Why MacBooks Don't Have Touchscreens
9:35

Why MacBooks Don't Have Touchscreens

Laptops
Speaker 1: When you're shopping for a laptop, you're choosing based on a few different factors like size or price, or how much storage you want these days. You also have the option to go with one of many touchscreen options. Think of the Microsoft surface or the Lenovo yoga lineup. For example, touchscreens have revolutionized the way we use tech like phones, kiosks and car infotainment systems. So it seems natural that they'd also make their way into laptops, but there's still one major company that's [00:00:30] never added a touchscreen to its laptops, apple, despite apple being ahead of the curve. When it comes to a lot of tech innovation, think of the iPhone, iPad and AirPods, for example, it never felt compelled to build a laptop with a touchscreen. The closest it came was when it introduced the touch bar in 2016, the touch bar is basically a thin screen that sits above the keyboard on the MacBook pro it changes based on the app you're using. Speaker 1: So if you're on your desktop, you'll see the function keys, but [00:01:00] then when you open up messages, you'd see emoji or suggested words instead. But the touch bar was short lived, and admittedly not very popular. Apple killed it off in 2021. Now newer MacBooks don't have any touchscreen elements that might seem surprising if apple has the technology to make a touchscreen laptop and touchscreens have become intuitive in so much of the tech we use. Why not build that into MacBooks? Well, there are a few reasons why it's shied away for so long and why [00:01:30] we probably won't get that touchscreen functionality in MacBooks anytime soon. Yeah. Speaker 1: The first thing we have to understand is that apple, like any smart company will do what it thinks is best for sales. So in the last few years, it's released a wider range of products from the apple watch to air tags and even subscription services like apple TV. Plus apple wants to cover as many bases as possible and sell products for a variety of use cases. [00:02:00] One of its biggest products is the iPad. iPads have essentially served as a middle ground between a smartphone and a full on laptop. They're bigger than a phone, but less bulky than a laptop. And then with additions like a keyboard attachment and the apple pencil iPads essentially become mini laptops. So if MacBooks also added touch screens, customers might feel like they could just go with either an iPad or a MacBook. If the two devices have a lot of the same functionality, Dan Ackerman [00:02:30] is seen as expert on computers. Speaker 2: I think if there's one reason why apple does not put touch into Mac, it is because they want you to still feel like you have to buy a MacBook and an iPad. They don't want you to feel like you're getting both devices in one and they want to keep those worlds as separate as possible. Even though in a lot of other ways, those two worlds are coming together. Speaker 1: Basically it wouldn't really make sense to still buy an iPad. If your laptop also had a touch screen, but with more power and [00:03:00] storage in 2016, Apple's SVP of software engineering cred, Feder GI told CNET that apple explored the idea of a touchscreen Mac many years ago, and even had working models, but piece outta a touchscreen compromised the experience Speaker 3: For a device, uh, that you hold in your hand like a phone or a tablet, uh, it's very natural. Rest your hand on the tablet and, and work that way. Grafting touch on something that fundamentally was designed around a precise pointer, really compromises the experience. [00:03:30] Apple Speaker 1: Will probably keep promoting the Mac and iPad as two separate and essential devices until maybe someday it decides to roll out a touchscreen MacBook. Speaker 2: They'll always say in the most opaque way possible that, you know, iPads, your iPads and max or max, and they work the way they're supposed to work and those work the way those are supposed to work. And that's it until the day they show up with a touchscreen MacBook and then they'll go, this is the greatest thing ever is the touchscreen MacBook. And we've been wanting to do this for years, but you're not gonna know that until it's sitting right in [00:04:00] front of you, Speaker 1: The release of the touch bar could have been an opportunity for apple to test the waters and see what a touch component could bring to the table. But it didn't really live up to the company's expectations. Speaker 2: The touch bar was definitely a misstep in terms of adding touch screens to max, it wasn't accepted. It didn't work out in a lot of ways. I think it was too early because it was doing things that people weren't really asking for. And it was also taking away things that people wanted, which is [00:04:30] physical buttons for functions, especially that escape key. Uh, you know, that's what people really missed most of all, but a lot of people who do, you know, production and stuff, they rely on those function keys, and they don't wanna have a touch version of it. They wanna have the tactile keys there, so you can add touch without taking other things away. That's not what the touch bar did. The, the touch bar took something away to add the little touchscreen. And that's where I think it went wrong. Speaker 1: Some people want touchscreen max so badly that they found roundabout ways to incorporate it Speaker 2: Over the years. I've even seen [00:05:00] people come up with add-on devices that add touchscreen to max. Like you used to be able to buy these little bars that you would plant, I think at the bottom of the screen, and it would shoot like a little light beam up, uh, and you'd have some software and your finger would break the beam by going around, you know, on the screen. And it would give you kind of a touchscreen environment on your MacBook, but they never really worked Speaker 1: On the flip side, a lot of windows laptops, and especially those that are high end have touch screens built into them. This goes back to the launch [00:05:30] of Microsoft's windows eight operating system in 2012, which looked more like a tablet operating system. Similarly, a lot of PCs at this time functioned more like tablets and were foldable and detachable from their keyboards. That's worked pretty well for windows computers. Speaker 2: I think windows laptops are uniquely suited for touchscreens right now because that windows operating system is frankly kind of janky still. And some things are easier to do with touch. It's just easier to touch this and touch that and get to the wifi networks [00:06:00] and the in the start menu, sometimes on the Mac side, I think the interface is much more natural and cleaner, so you don't have the same need need for it. But I bet there are a lot of interesting ways people could come up with to use it, especially if you're doing stuff like I know writing the fader in a, uh, music program or doing a jog wheel while you're video editing right on the screen there, they don't quite have that desperation need for it. That windows laptops ended up having, cuz they really needed to add that functionality to compete. But that doesn't mean they're not gonna get [00:06:30] there eventually. And now that they're all running off the same base, uh, types of chips, you know, you have M one chips in max and you have M one chips in iPads. Uh, that just means it's easier than ever to get them to mesh. Speaker 1: Also apple isn't really the kind of company that follows the lead of other tech giants. It's always done its own thing when it comes to both hardware and software, because it knows it has a strong loyal following. One example is the fact that iPhones use a [00:07:00] lightning cable to charge while the vast majority of other phones use USBC. This can be an inconvenience for users who just want a universal cable, but apple gets away with it because ultimately customers believe in the overall product. Although apple may be forced to change that soon, following a new European union mandate, you can check out my video on this for more as big as touch screens are right now though, they're only going to become more ubiquitous with time. Today's kids are touch native [00:07:30] since they grew up in a world where touch screens are basically everywhere from phones to video games, to toys, even retro gadgets like flip bones are getting the touchscreen treatment. These days with companies like Samsung launching devices, like the galaxy Z flip four and Z fold four, check out my other video on flip bones for more on that. Eventually trying to market a laptop that doesn't have a touch component will be a tougher cell. Speaker 2: That philosophy of, oh, max have to be one way in iPads have [00:08:00] to be another way. And it just doesn't make sense. That's gonna die out as that generation, you know, moves away and new generations come in where people are less concerned about the dividing line between what's a computer and what's a tablet and what's a phone. You know, they're not really the phones aren't really phones anymore. They're little computers. The iPad's not a consumption in movie viewing device. It's a creativity device. It's gonna be a productivity device. It's very computer like. So I think it's gonna take a while, but they are all going to come together. Speaker 1: Especially [00:08:30] now that iPhones, max and iPads are all built on Apple's chips. It could be easier to create that sense of unity and shared functionality across Apple's devices. Speaker 2: On a long enough timeline, you will eventually have a grand unified theory of apple operating systems where iPads and Mac, and maybe even phones some other kind of futuristic devices. They will all operate in a very unified universal way and you will have to have touch on these devices. It's just become such a part of how [00:09:00] we interact with everything from, you know, ATMs to phones, to tablets, to, you know, handheld game console. Everything is touch base Speaker 1: In the meantime, apple and all its biggest fans will probably continue to swear that MacBook are perfect just the way they are without touch screens. But what do you think, would you prefer a MacBook with a touch screen or do you like the way max function right now without a touch component? Let us know when the comments and don't forget to hit like and subscribe for more content from CNET.

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