MacBook Pro Lacks One of iPad’s Greatest Features — Touch

The iPad will not replace the MacBook, but they should share this feature.

Martin Andersson Aaberge
Jan 16 · 4 min read
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Photo by author

Will your iPad Pro replace your MacBook Pro?

I bought the iPad Pro, the magic keyboard, and the Logitech MX Master 3 mouse. It was set up like a computer, and it felt like one — almost.

It didn’t replace my MacBook Pro no matter how hard I tried, but I use them side by side. They offer great functionality and complement each other. However, there is one feature I miss on the MacBook Pro — touch.

In 2016 Phil Schiller told us the MacBooks would not have touch screens. This view was repeated in 2019. Schiller said they would rather spend their resources making the Mac a keyboard and mouse device and iPad a touch device.

Apple is one of the world leaders in UX, so I assume they have data to back up their choices.

I still miss touch, though.

The MacBook already has a touch experience

When the touch bar was introduced to the MacBook, several YouTubers complained about it. They’d rather see the function keys stay the way they were.

Then developers chimed in. The lack of a physical escape key was a big issue. The escape key returned with the MacBook Pro 16," and the introduction of this MacBook was a “We’re listening” release.

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Photo by Tim Samuel from Pexels

Is the touch bar perfect now? That depends on who you ask. In my case, it is a much-welcomed feature.

Your function keys are still there, but you have more ways to interact with them.

Great examples of the touch bar experience

If you want to see a perfect example of how you can implement the touch bar to your application, give MS Excel a ride.

As a non-native speaker, the touch bar offers several great functionalities. Solid word prediction and a real-time spell checker are great when typing.

Pop-ups that require actions will bring up alternatives on the touch bar. Moving your finger 5cm and keep working is faster than using the mouse.

Why do we want to touch our MacBook screens?

Time.

It might not feel like much, but reaching for your mouse when you have both hands on your keyboard, takes time. Maybe only a fraction of a second, but multiply that by 500.000, and it adds up throughout your lifetime.

Multiple options in search

If you search and are presented with several results, your brain already knows what it wants to click. You can use your arrows to travel up and down, but that forces you to start at the top. If you know what you want to click, the finger can take you there quicker.

Placing your cursor

When you are typing and need to go up to another paragraph and change a word in the middle of a sentence, there are several ways you can do this. You can grab your mouse like we normally do, or you can use use the keyboard.

Although you can get there fairly quickly by using a combination of arrows, command, and option, reaching for the screen and the exact location you are looking for might be faster.

Moving notifications out of the way

When my daughter was 2 years old, I witnessed her swipe a notification out of the way on my iPhone. I was amazed, but it’s intuitive. Something animates into your screen. It makes sense that you can swipe it back out where it came from.

When you do this with a mouse, you grab it, go to the notification location, stop, and then perform the swipe motion. With your finger, you are already heading in the right direction. You only need to drop it down on the screen for a brief moment during the swipe.

The Big Sur tease

With the release of Big Sur, the MacBook operating system even feels like an iPad.

The icons are square, and menu elements resemble what we are used to seeing on the smaller screens.

The Control Center screams iOS, but no touching, please.

The daily use of the MacBook makes me want to touch it more and more every time I lay my hands on it.

Final Thoughts

Before I got the iPad Pro, I didn’t understand the need for a MacBook touch screen.

After using them extensively for months, I realized I don’t miss the MacBook functionality when using the iPad. I miss the iPad functionality on the MacBook.

We might see keys with LED displays before we can touch our screens, but I wish Mr. Schiller changes his mind.

The iPad will not replace my MacBook, but I do love its functionalities…

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Mac O’Clock

The best stories for Apple owners and enthusiasts

Martin Andersson Aaberge

Written by

CG supervisor with 17 years of experience in the Animation- and VFX industry. Studying Design, Use and Interaction (UX) at the University of Oslo

Mac O’Clock

The best stories for Apple owners and enthusiasts

Martin Andersson Aaberge

Written by

CG supervisor with 17 years of experience in the Animation- and VFX industry. Studying Design, Use and Interaction (UX) at the University of Oslo

Mac O’Clock

The best stories for Apple owners and enthusiasts

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