The Touch-Bar-Reviews-Are-Out Edition Monday, November 14, 2016

MacBook Pro With Touch Bar Review: Keyboard Chameleon, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

So who says there’s nothing new under the sun? Here’s a new dimension added to the Mac, with a debt owed to iOS, but undeniably its own approach. It never forgets it’s a companion to the keyboard and trackpad, but adds more flexibility than a static keyboard ever could. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves—and I have to admit, I kind of want one to place above the top row of my own external Mac keyboard now. I never felt that way about function keys.

New MacBook Pro Is A Fast, Slim Tweener, by Walt Mossberge, The Verge

The new 13” MacBooks — even the base model without the Touch Bar — are costly. And they may make pros unhappy. But, for everyday Mac lovers — users of the Air or maybe the older low-end Pro — they are now your only thin, modern, option with a full-fledged processor. The Touch Bar has potential, but it’s not magic. The battery isn’t likely to deliver on Apple’s claims. You can’t count on liking the keyboard. But, if you’re a Mac devotee ready to move past the Air — not back to a lower-powered MacBook — this is what Apple is offering. Take it or leave it.

Review: Touch Bar MacBook Pros Give An Expensive Glimpse At The Mac's Future, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

It feels like Apple might have a comprehensive vision for the future of its computers, but that it's only ready to show us a small, expensive peek right now. The sooner the Touch Bar and USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 can spread across the entire lineup and end this awkward transitional phase, the better.

MacBook Pro 2016 Review: The Love/hate Future Of Laptops, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

Apple's vision for the future of laptops won't be for everyone — even if they, and I, think it will be for more people than ever before.

Including an entirely new generation of pros.

Apple Looks Ahead With The New MacBook Pro, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

The Touch Bar feels like a nice bonus for the time being. It’s a compelling new input device that has the potential to alter the way we interact with applications on a laptop. In this early stage, it’s a cool feature that further distinguishes the Pro from other similarly spec-ed laptops, proving most useful in the consumption and creation of media like video, audio and images — all part of the creative professional demographic that has long served as one of the company’s core user bases. As Apple and third-party developers continue to play around with the form, its usefulness will only continue to grow. And perhaps it won’t be too long before we start seeing desktop applications built with the Touch Bar in mind, rather than adding such functionality in hindsight. The addition of Touch ID, however, has some immediately welcome functionality, including more secure startups and purchasing.

World Affairs

China Threatens To Cut Sales Of iPhones And US Cars If 'Naive' Trump Pursues Trade War, by Tom Phillips, The Guardian

US president-elect Donald Trump would be a “naive” fool to launch an all-out trade war against China, a Communist party-controlled newspaper has claimed. [...]

China’s foreign ministry has used more diplomatic language to caution Trump not to square up to Beijing.

Banks Rubbish Apple's Security Claims Over NFC Access, by Allie Coyne, ITNews

Apple's claims that opening up access to the NFC chips in its iPhones would compromise the device's security are unfounded, three of Australia's biggest banks say. [...]

"It is important to distinguish between potential security issues that happen to involve Android devices, and the suggestion that the potential security issues actually arise because of the provision of access to the Android NFC function," the banks said in their submission.

Musical Notes

Google Revamps Play Music With Optional Recommendations Based On Your Location And Activity, by Jordan Novet, VentureBeat

Probably the most fascinating aspect of the new version of the app is that, if you opt in, it will recommend music that’s appropriate given your location and what you’re currently doing. So if you’re sitting in your office, Google will suggest music that’s appropriate for that context.

Google & Amazon Increase Pressure On Apple Music & Spotify With New Features, International Expansion, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac


Microsoft Launches iPhone App For Color Blind Users, by Bogdan Popa, Softpedia

Microsoft Garage has just launched a new iPhone app that’s specifically aimed at color blind people, as it helps them distinguish colors in a photo they take with the camera by automatically adjusting certain colors.

Cold In Your Hotel Room? By Voice Or Tablet, You Can Change That, by Elaine Glusac, New York Times

Using Apple’s audio assistant Siri in 10 pilot rooms each at the Aloft Boston Seaport and the Aloft Santa Clara in California, guests can request a change in the temperature, adjust the lighting or ask for information on local attractions.

Preschoolers Show App-titude For Languages, by Lauren Martyn-Jones, The Courier-Mail

Jessica McKenzie, the director of the Chermside Early Education Centre and Preschool, said the language apps had been a hit with her little ones, who were learning Chinese. “The children have really enjoyed the apps; they are easy to use, the kids can understand them and they are fun,” she said.


Microsoft Announces Visual Studio For Mac, by MSPowerUser

Microsoft today announced that they are a new version of Visual Studio for Mac. This is based on Xamarin Studio, but its UX is inspired by Visual Studio on Windows. If don’t want full IDE experience, you can always use Visual Studio Code, a lightweight yet rich standalone source editor.


Facebook, In Cross Hairs After Election, Is Said To Question Its Influence, by Mike Issac, New York Times

Late on Tuesday night, as it became clear that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton to win the presidential election, a private chat sprang up on Facebook among several vice presidents and executives of the social network.

What role, they asked each other, had their company played in the election’s outcome?

Facebook’s top executives concluded that they should address the issue and assuage staff concerns at a quarterly all-hands meeting. They also called a smaller meeting with the company’s policy team, according to three people who saw the private chat and are familiar with the decisions; they requested anonymity because the discussion was confidential.

Bottom of the Page

In so many ways, I wish I can go back to live under a rock.


The "Unlock with Touch ID" animation on the new Touch Bar reminds me of the "Click here to Begin" animation in Windows 95 when the Start button was introduced.


Where's my rock?


Thanks for reading.