Apple announced its new range of MacBook Pros at the end of 2016. There is a 13-inch model and a 15-inch model available, both sporting a new feature called Touch Bar, along with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Replacing the function keys on the keyboard is a Retina multi-touch display, known as Touch Bar, while Touch ID is incorporated in the top right corner.
Here is everything you can do with the Apple Touch Bar, how it works and what apps will support it.
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Apple Touch Bar: How does it work?
Apple's Touch Bar adapts to the software you are using, whether that is Photoshop, Microsoft Word or Apple's Calendar and it presents you with relevant tools based on the application. This could be anything from system controls like display brightness, to allowing you to format text.
The idea of Touch Bar is to offer something that is more versatile and capable than the function keys that have been around for decades, and let's face it, that we barely use.
Apple Touch Bar: What can I do with it?
The Touch Bar is integrated into MacOS Sierra, meaning all native Apple apps, such as Mail, Safari, Photos, iTunes etc, will all work seamlessly with it and allow you to perform a range of tasks.
The Touch Bar includes a dedicated Siri button within it, meaning a quick tap of the signature Siri logo and you can ask your new MacBook Pro whatever you fancy.
You'll be able to scroll through your photo library with your finger, select a photo, rotate images, crop an image, add a filter, mark images as a favourite and move through a video. The Touch Bar will also present a "Done" button so you can tap it when you're finished, and you'll be able to run your finger along it to see different filter effects.
Mail and Messages
When Mail or Messages is open, the Touch Bar will offer Quick Type options to help you write an email or message faster, format the text, and present you with emojis that you can scroll through using your finger.
Within Mail, Touch Bar will show options including composing a message, replying and flagging, as well as selecting trash or moving a particular email to a specific folder.
Touch Bar also offers support for reactions in Messages, so you can give a quick thumbs up to an iMessage using the Touch Bar, for example.
You'll be able to use the Touch Bar to tap through your open Safari tabs and it will show you your favourites, enabling to you slide between the likes of Facebook and Google, with a quick touch opening up a saved site. An escape button will also appear on the Touch Bar, along with previous and next buttons, and a search bar, helping you navigate quickly.
Keynote, Numbers and Pages
The Touch Bar works with Keynote, Numbers and Pages, as you would expect, allowing you to complete a range of tasks from changing the colour of text, to skipping a slide and formatting text.
You'll be able to search iTunes, as well as skip tracks, play and pause, ensuring controlling playback is nice and simple.
You'll be able to search for places in Maps using the Touch Bar, with Apple claiming it is now so much easier.
The Touch Bar will bring up weekly blocks, allowing you to scroll through quickly and easily to see when you're busy and when you're available without needing to move your cursor.
No need to move your mouse when you get a FaceTime call again. The Touch Bar will show you who is calling with their picture, as well as give you the options of answering, declining or sending a message.
Options will appear not the Touch Bar to help you edit your movies, enabling you to slide through reels with your finger.
The Touch Bar can be used to play musical instruments in Garage Band, offering access to a range of controls from Tone to Level.
If you really miss those function keys, pressing and holding the FN key on the keyboard will bring up access to the function keys on the Touch Bar so you won't need to miss them for long.
Primary System Controls
You might not miss all the function keys but some are pretty useful, such as brightness controls. Thankfully you'll still be able to access all these controls, as well as customise the ones that you want to see all the time, whether that's volume, brightness or the keyboard backlight controls. A tap on the arrow to the left of the controls showing will expand the options, giving you access to more.
The Touch Bar can also be customised, with plenty of options available, from adding a connecting to a server icon to a Do Not Disturb one or a new screenshot control icon. By selecting "Customise Touch Bar" in the Edit menu on Finder, you can drag and drop the icons you want to the bottom of the screen and you will see the new icons appear drop on the Touch Bar straight away.
You can customise the control strip and the primary system controls, as we mentioned above.
Apple Touch Bar: Third-party apps
Apple announced that third-party apps would also eventually be compatible with the Touch Bar. Although it didn't offer a definitive list, there were a couple of big names mentioned.
Adobe has added Touch Bar compatibility to Photoshop. Users can use it to switch between layers, as well as perform various tasks including scrolling through the history of your changes.
Final Cut Pro
Users of Final Cut Pro will be able to navigate through their projects with an interactive display of your entire timeline appearing on the Touch Bar.
Apple announced Microsoft was working on offering Touch Bar functionality with Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as Skype for Business, though a timeframe of when it would happen wasn't detailed.
Touch Bar support for AFFinity Designer was also announced, but we're still waiting details on when.
Another one without a timescale, but Pixelmator will also offer Touch Bar support eventually.
DJ Pro fans will also be pleased to know the Touch Bar will also be compatible with this app, allowing you to mix songs and access various features with your fingers. Compatibility will arrive later this year.
Sketch is another third-party app that will feature Touch Bar support, though again, no details on when were revealed.
DaVinci Resolve was the last of the third-party apps to announce Touch Bar support. We will update this feature when we hear details of when the update will arrive.
Apple Touch ID on Mac: What will it do?
Touch ID has also now been incorportated on the Mac, appearing at the right-hand end of the Touch Bar and integrated into the power button.
Aside from unlocking your Mac, the Touch ID will also recognise fingerprints of different users, switching accounts immediately. As you might expect, you'll be able to make secure online payments with Apple Pay using Touch ID too, making spending money far too easy.