Here's everything you can do with the new MacBook Touch Bar

Apple has unveiled the new MacBook Pro and the most interesting part of it by far is the Touch Bar — a touch-sensitive, context-aware OLED strip that replaces the function keys above the keyboard. Buttons on the Touch Bar change depending on the software you're using, so that when you're in your mail app it'll show you a button for deleting emails, for example, whereas in a photo app it'll show you buttons for adjusting the image.

The most useful keys look like they'll stick around in all contexts (that includes brightness and volume controls on the far right, and the escape key on the far left), but the rest will change based on what you're doing. Third-party developers can also add their own functionality. Here's what we've seen it do so far:

  • Edit pictures. In Apple's own photo app there are buttons for adjusting tilt, crop, picture rotation, and adding filters. You can also scroll through images in a carousel.
  • Edit videos. In Final Cut Pro you can scrub through an individual clip, or navigate the whole timeline of a larger video project.
  • Add emoji. In Messages and Mail you can select an emoji from the Touch Bar, and it'll even suggest emoji to replace words you're typing.
  • Suggest words. Like autosuggest in iOS, the Touch Bar will prompt you with basic response to conversations.
  • Edit documents. Format options like bold, italicize, and underline are accessible in the Touch Bar.
  • Control music. Basic playback controls, such as play, pause, skip track, etc, all appear when you're listening to music.
  • Browse the web. When using Safari you get buttons for new tabs, starting search, and navigating back and forward in web pages. You can also see tab previews in the Touch Bar or access your bookmarks.
  • Manage your email. In Mail, you can use the Touch Bar to create a new message, reply, function, move an email to the trash, or archive it.
  • Make presentations. In Keynote you can use the Touch Bar to adjust things like text and pictures and navigate through your slides.
  • Access Siri. Along with brightness and volume controls, it looks like accessing Siri is also a permanent addition to the Touch Bar on the far right-hand side.
  • Accept or reject FaceTime calls. You'll need an iPhone and Continuity running on your Mac to get your calls sent there in the first place though.
  • Find places in Maps. When using Apple's mapping app you get shortcut buttons for basic searches — for cinemas, restauraunts, coffee shops, etc.
  • Scroll through your calendar. Use Apple's calendar app and the Touch Bar will let you quickly navigate between weeks.
  • Use Touch ID. This doesn't appear to be part of the Touch Bar's OLED display, but lives just to the right of it. You can use Touch ID to pay for purchases, log in to your account, or switch accounts on the same machine.
  • Customize your Touch Bar. The default buttons are what you'd normall get on a MacBook, but you can switch this up, with shortcuts for things like locking the screen, taking screenshots, and dictation.
  • Code code code. The Touch Bar even works in Terminal and Xcode, bringing up a number of common navigation functions.
  • Access the function keys. Yep, F1 through F12 aren't going away — you'll just need to hold down the function button on the keyboard to bring those up.

And that's all we've got so far, but remember: third-party developers can also add their own functionality. We know there are custom Touch Bar buttons for Photoshop, Skype, and Office, and presumably more will follow. What's more, the Touch Bar even feels good, says our own Dieter Bohn, who had a chance to try it out today. Maybe we won't miss physical function buttons after all?



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