Categories / Inspiration

Apple Ditches Function Keys, Introduces Touch Bar

Kevin Whipps May 25, 2021 · 4 min read

Every time Apple has an event, the design world listens. Why? Well come on, a lot of designers use Macs and Apple devices on a regular basis, and if our tools are getting an upgrade, we should probably know about it, right? The way I see it, anytime I can do something better by using something that’s more efficient than what I’ve got, I should at least be aware of its existence.
That, and I’m a bit of an Apple geek, but whatever.
So with that in mind, here’s what Apple announced at today’s big event held at Town Hall in Cupertino, California.

The New MacBook Pro(s)

The big news of the day is the release of the new MacBook Pro. It’s all aluminum, has a beefier hinge, an upgraded version of the keyboard from the MacBook (the 12-inch model), and it’s faster, too. But you don’t care about any of that, because you could’ve guessed that before even reading this article.
What you care about are two things: that funky thing that’s where the function keys used to be, and the ports. Here’s why.
The 2016 MacBook Pro
That funky thing is called the TouchBar, and it’s freakin’ amazing. Long story short, it replaces the row of function keys with an OLED strip Retina display that uses multi-touch and an AppleID scanner instead. It’s contextual; open Safari and it shows you your bookmarks. Open Photoshop and some of your tools are there. It changes based on what you’re doing and how, and it’s very, very cool.
MacBook Pro TouchBar
As a designer, the important thing to know is that Adobe and Sketch are onboard with this deal. Adobe showed off a demo of Photoshop with the new TouchBar, and it was pretty sweet. Pixelmator, Sketch and Affinity Designer all have new versions coming too, so that’s also neat. Point is, it looks like it will be a very useful tool, particularly once the applications start to work with it.
Check it out in action:

Now the other important part: the ports.
Yes, there is a headphone jack. However, there is not an SD card slot, nor any other kind of port other than four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Now you may be thinking, “But Kevin, doesn’t Thunderbolt use a different type of connection?” Well Thunderbolt 1 and 2 did, but 3 uses the same setup as USB-C, which means that you can use any USB-C device with it. Also, it means that you can charge the MacBook Pro on any port, and there’s no more MagSafe plug.
Let’s get personal for a second here. I had one of the new MacBooks for about a year before I sold it, and it was pretty neat. Not having fans is cool, and the screen was gorgeous, but I didn’t love the keyboard and it wasn’t enough for my daily driving use. As far as convenience, I always had to carry around a little USB-C to USB 3.0 adapter because my backup drives and peripherals all take USB 3.0. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was inconvenient, particularly one day at a photo shoot. I had to run out to Target to get an adapter, and $30 later I was ready to go.
With the new MacBook Pro, you’re gonna want to have an adapter in your laptop bag for sure. Better yet, might wanna have at least two, maybe four. And that’s gonna get expensive, what with the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter being $70 and USB-C to USB adapter sitting at $19.
Pricing starts at $1,799 for the 13-inch MacBook Pro and $2,399 for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, with prices going up over the $4 grand mark if you want a 2TB drive.

Are You In?

I’ve needed a new Mac for a while now, but I’ll admit, the pricing kinda freaks me out. Are you going to get a new MacBook Pro? Let me know!

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About the Author
Kevin Whipps

Hi! My name is Kevin Whipps, and I'm a writer and editor based in Phoenix, Arizona. When I'm not working taking pictures of old cars and trucks, I'm either writing articles for Creative Market or hawking stickers at Whipps Sticker Co.

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  • I love my macbook pro, had 3 of them now but this new mac looks terrible. That touch bar is just a stupid gimmick its not what users want. Apple have lost their way on this one. 6 years ago
  • I am due for an upgrade laptop wise but this Macbook Pro just dropped the ball. Pricing is the major thing for me. They didn't add anything new besides the Touch Bar but the cost raised drastically. Honestly I don't think the touch bar will be all that useful, more of a feature kinda like Force Touch. I have the wireless Magic Trackpad 2 with my iMac but I haven't used Force Touch once in the almost year I've had it. Apple just needs to add more useful features for me to want to even buy it at this point. 6 years ago
  • @Michael Struble This makes interesting reading 6 years ago
  • So disappointed, really feel like Apple has lost it. I switched from Windows around 9 years ago, it really is the first time that I am considering switching back, shame because macOS is really great. I actually don't mind the Touch Bar, I do think it can be interesting for some uses, but it's far from a game changer. But comparing to my current Macbook Pro, I don't understand how ditching the MagSafe, Ethernet port, Thunderbolt, Standard USB ports and SD slot is progress! I do honestly use almost all these on a daily basis. I shoot my pictures on SD cards, and often import them through Lightroom on the go, and back at home I plug the ethernet cable in to copy the pictures on a NAS on my local network. All of these steps are not possible with the new Macbook "Pro". I do put the "Pro" in quotes because that's really what Apple doesn't seem to get anymore, making computers that actually help professionals do their work! Do they even consult with professionals or listen to user needs? 6 years ago
  • woow new macbook pro its powerful tool. Anyone who buys Apple does not expect to buy a cheap device. 6 years ago
  • Not worth the money. Period. 6 years ago
  • I don't think the new macbook is more powerful, its slower. I don't mind the price so much. Its the fact that they are adding silly things and removing good things. 6 years ago
  • And that's exactly why I think it's not worth your money. It's just simply overpriced. It's like shit wrapped in gold and sold as gold. But one thing I must admit - Apple's marketers are geniuses (although making a fool of another human is not that hard nowadays - just look around ;) ). 6 years ago
  • I think Microsoft's new Surface Studio just blew this thing out of the water! So impressed with them (although I am a Mac user). Will be interesting to see how things pan out for both these new devices. 6 years ago
  • The fact that it isn't a touch screen is very disappointing / same with the iMac - Surface Studio is light years ahead ... also Apple stop making your desktops and even laptops into giant iPhones. You need to create an OS for professionals 6 years ago
  • I'm agreeing with Gabor here. He said :: But comparing to my current Macbook Pro, I don't understand how ditching the MagSafe, Ethernet port, Thunderbolt, Standard USB ports and SD slot is progress! I do honestly use almost all these on a daily basis. I must agree. This will force me into figuring out an entirely NEW system and after 30 years of being in love with Mac, I fear I may have to switch out. No SD slot? No Ethernet or standard USB? so, to accommodate Apple's new dream I have to upgrade my entire studio? That is just not gonna happen. It's too bad, because my beloved MacBookPro (vintage 2012) really needs an upgrade. 6 years ago
  • They really shouldn't call it a "Pro." It's not geared to folks who actually use it to make a living! Macbook Hobby is more appropriate. 6 years ago
  • I agree with Janie Waters. It is completely bullshit. I love being on a Mac but the new politic they're practicing those last years is starting to annoy me a lot. No USB, no st card, Ethernet or hdmi slot?? Really?? We have to buy so much more stuff to work. And the new MacBook Pro may be a bit lighter but we have to carry 1kg of adapters to get the job done. I don't like microsoft but I'm sick of Apple. I hope we'll have an another solution in the future. 6 years ago
  • No really no step forward on this one. I'm also, for the first time in years, thinking about changing back to windows, because they upped their game, with this new Microsoft Surface Dial/Studio for example. Still hate the interface thou... but please Apple, get a grip! 6 years ago
  • Looking to upgrade and the macbook pro looks awesome! 2 Tb SSD and 16 Gb Ram + i7 = awesome power! the Touchbar works with terminal and Xcode and customizable so it will prob be a game-changer for developing. Can't wait to try it out! 6 years ago
  • I was very disappointed with the updates. Whether the Touch Bar proves to be more than just a gimmick is redundant when (like me) you use your MacBook Pro in clamshell mode, connected to a larger display. And I expected to see a higher 32GB RAM option available. Pricing here in the UK is ridiculous as well. I'd love a 2TB SSD but that's over £1000 extra! So I will be sticking with my current 15" top specced MacBook Pro which is only a couple of years old. It will be interesting to see what other updates occur early next year. As many people have said, Apple don't appear to be actually listening to their 'pro' customers any more which is increasingly frustrating. 6 years ago