04 November 2016
I thought about the Touch Bar a lot in the last few days. There are three ways of looking at it.
Don't believe Apple when they claim that function keys are silly because they are from the 1970s. This is just an excuse for why they choose to not make (or are not capable of making) the entire screen touchable similar to the Microsoft Surface Book or the Google Chromebook Pixel (failure).
Assume that this is the next step in Apple's (and the entire industry's) goal of making everything touchable. It's too expensive and complicated to make the entire keyboard area touchable now, but on an infinite time scale everything will be a touchable screen. Remember cell phones before the iPhone? They had buttons everywhere. Steve Jobs on stage in January 2007 explained why this was bad (emphasis mine):
And they all have these control buttons that are fixed in plastic and are the same for every application. Well, every application wants a slightly different user interface, a slightly optimized set of buttons, just for it. And what happens if you think of a great idea six months from now? You can’t run around and add a button to these things. They’re already shipped.
This logic also applies to laptops, and the Touch Bar is just step one.
Apple can no longer innovate. They couldn't leapfrog competitors on specs (in reality they did because of how thin and light the laptop is), so they added a gimmick that they can push with their massive marketing machine.
Personally, I believe #2 is accurate. My new MacBook Pro arrives later this month.