Will We See Web Support For Apple’s Touchbar?

Briefly on the New Mac

On Thursday, October 27, Apple announced it’s past due update to the MacBook Pro. There are things I like and don’t like about the new MacBook, but the one thing I do like is the TouchBar. The TouchBar is a great addition to the Mac family and would be a great addition to Windows as well.

We’ve been mapping functionality to 40 year old technology. The TouchBar essentially replaces the function keys with digital ones that change based on application for added functionality. It’s neat, but as a web developer, I immediately thought about the web’s potential; assuming web developers can harness it’s power.

Is It Plausible?

The idea of harnessing Apple specific hardware isn’t too farfetched. In June, Apple announced that ApplePay would be making it’s way to the Web. ApplePay would work with the iPhone (or now the Mac’s) TouchID sensor and Safari. Maybe Apple will release an API or maybe it’ll just be supported with special conditional tags like you would write for IE support.

<!--[if Apple TouchBar]>
HTML for TouchBar
<![endif] -->
An example of how the touchbar could be used for the web.

Either way, access to the TouchBar would be neat but certainly not crucial. Supporting the TouchBar within its first year or so would be just for bragging rights.

The Possibilities

Imagine being able to code share links, the top level navigation items, or a page’s sub items. The possibilities are endless really. Other possibilities are web push notifications, an entirely different menu (I would advise against that), call to actions and more. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. I can quickly see this being abused for banner ads, malicious links, etc…

With all that said, I do hope that Apple will pull an ApplePay and open up some of the Mac specific hardware up to developers. The only question would be, will it be (if at all) supported with every major browser or just Safari.

Originally published at daveberning.io on October 31, 2016.

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