The Touch-Bar Edition Friday, October 28, 2016

The New MacBook Pro Looks And Feels So Good It's Unreal, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

We’ll start with the marquee feature, the Touch Bar. What you might not have gathered from the keynote is that it has a matte finish, which makes the buttons on it somehow feel a little more physical. It’s bright, but not so bright that it distracts — it seems to be about on par with the brightness of the backlit keyboard.

I have questions about whether or not all these changing function buttons will be comprehensible, but in my brief time with them they all made sense to me. There’s no haptic feedback on them, unfortunately, but obviously they all worked perfectly. That included quickly applying filters in Photos and sorting emails in Mail.

Does The Mac Still Matters?, by Shara Tibken and Connie Guglielmo, CNET

“We didn’t want to just create a speed bump on the MacBook Pro,” he says. “In our view this is a big, big step forward. It is a new system architecture, and it allows us to then create many things to come, things that we can’t envision yet.”

That might not be completely candid. Ive tells us he and his team have spent the last 20-plus years learning and building from each new design. Along the way, they’ve experimented with anodizing and finishes, played around with new materials beyond aluminum (or “ah-loo-MIN-ium,” as anyone who has listened to him narrating new product videos knows). And, of course, new ways to interact with Apple’s products, like the Touch Bar.

“We unanimously were very compelled by [the Touch Bar] as a direction, based on, one, using it, and also having the sense this is the beginning of a very interesting direction,” Ive said. “But [it] still just marks a beginning.”

Perpendicular Philosophy, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Microsoft believes that traditional computer interfaces and modern mobile-device touchscreen interfaces should be melded together, blurring the lines between tablet and PC. This week’s introduction of the Surface Studio—think of an iMac that can be folded down onto your desk and used as a gigantic iPad—is perhaps the most impressive iteration of that belief to date.

Apple, in contrast, believes that touchscreen interfaces are great and computers are great and they’re not the same thing. Apple has steadfastly resisted adding touchscreens to the Mac, and when you ask the company’s executives why, they have been remarkably consistent on this point for the past few years.

The Future Of PCs And Macs Is Expensive, by Vlad Savov, The Verge

The personal desktop computer used to once be an exclusive and expensive machine, though we now know it and its laptop counterpart as a mass-market commodity that most people can afford. This week, however, the companies that defined the personal computer, Microsoft and Apple, gave us a glimpse of the future and it looks like a return to the past: the PC is going back to being an exclusive and expensive machine.

Apple’s Prices For MacBook Memory And Storage Are Detached From Reality, by Mike Murphy, Quartz

You could even buy a complete HP computer with a 17-inch screen and a 2 TB hard drive for only slightly more than the MacBook Pro upgrade.

Apple's Cord Situation Is Completely Out Of Control, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

Apple's head of design Jony Ive said last month that "we believe in a wireless future." But my immediate future — deciding whether or not I buy a new MacBook Pro — looks to be full of different cords and dongles.

The Mac Line Is Still Kinda Broken, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

However, Apple left a lot of work undone. Most of the Mac line is in as big of a mess as it was yesterday. Desktop users really have only one decent choice — the iMac — and now it is behind the MacBook Pro.

Apple Updates Final Cut Pro X & iMovie With Support For Touch Bar In New MacBook Pros, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

The update, which will available to download today on the Mac App Store, adds support for the Touch Bar in the just-announced 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro. The update also brings refinements to the app’s revolutionary Magic Timeline.

Microsoft Explains How Word, PowerPoint, Excel, And Outlook Work With Touch Bar, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

In Word, users will be able to use "Word Focus Mode," which eliminates the clutter of on-screen ribbons and commands "so you can simply focus on your work." All of the relevant UI is then moved down onto Touch Bar, with classic buttons like copy/paste, bold, italics, underline, list, indent, and more found on Apple's new multi-touch panel.

TV App In Apple TV

Apple’s New ‘TV’ App Is Its Way Of Simplifying All Your Streaming Content, by Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica

At today's event, Apple unveiled its newest video streaming system: an app called TV. Similar to what rumors stated, the new app is meant to help users find their most watched content across all the streaming services they may subscribe to by aggregating those shows and movies in one place. TV will also recommend new content to watch based on your history.

Apple’s New TV Universe Has A Few Conspicuous Holes In It, by Mathew Ingram, Fortune

As an all-in-one service for finding video to watch, the app looked fairly impressive. But it has two rather large holes in it: It doesn’t allow you to search for shows that are available on either Netflix or on Amazon’s Prime Video


Apple Launches New Website To Promote Accessibility Features, by Husain Sumra, MacRumors

Cook says that Apple believes that if people have access to its product they can help push humanity forward and "change the world in the process."

60dB Brings Personalized, Short-form Audio Stories To iPhone And Soon, Echo, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

A new mobile application called 60dB, launching today, wants to offer a better, more personalized radio service focused on short-form audio content. The app includes news, sports, business, entertainment, comedy stories and more, from a variety of publishers, which are customized to your interests the more you use the service. A separate section for longer stories is also available, for when you have more time to devote to listening.

Minecraft Is Coming To Apple TV By The End Of The Year, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

During its "Hello Again" event today Apple revealed that the popular crafting video game Minecraft is heading to the fourth-generation Apple TV sometime by the end of 2016.


It’s Bill Murray: A Facial Recognition Algorithm Settles The Debate, by Adrienne Lafrance, The Atlantic

One of the ways computer scientists test the accuracy of their work is to map one person’s distinctive facial expressions onto a simulation of another famous face. The idea is that if their model is good enough, Hillary Clinton still looks like Hillary Clinton, even when she’s making a Tom Hanks expression.

Camera-phone Lucida, by Jacob Mikanowski, The Point

Art changes all the time, and when it changes, so does its history. Strong forms give birth to their own ancestors. The word “selfie” only dates back to 2002, when it was coined on an Australian internet forum (and what an antique wind already blows from that word “forum”) by a clumsy drunk who took a photo of himself after tripping over a staircase at a friend’s twenty-first birthday party, and it hasn’t been in widespread use for more than a few years. By 2013 it was the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year. By now, in 2016, the selfie is as common as water, responsible for a clutch of hideous gadgets as well as several dozen fatalities: a plane crash, a boat capsizing, and at least one (alleged) dolphin murder.

Pushing That Crosswalk Button May Make You Feel Better, But …, by Christopher Mele, New York Times

Though these buttons may not function, they do serve a function for our mental health, Ellen J. Langer, a psychology professor at Harvard University who has studied the illusion of control, said in an email.

“Perceived control is very important,” she said. “It diminishes stress and promotes well being.”

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My first impression of the Touch Bar -- not that impressed. I have yet to be convinced this is the future.


One of the first computer I used -- it was probably in secondary school -- has function keys on the left side of the keyboard.


Thanks for reading.