Apple just unveiled a MacBook laptop it said it would never make: the new MacBook Pro has a touchscreen display, albeit not the kind of touchscreen display you want. It also has an ARM processor, albeit not the kind that can power the entire thing. It also has iOS running right alongside macOS, but it’s not the kind of iOS experience you expect.
The Touch Bar display runs a modified version of watchOS, which itself is a modified version of iOS. That means Touch Bar runs independently of macOS, and that certainly makes sense.
Because it integrates the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that’s also used for Apple Pay purchases, the Touch Bar needs a secure enclave to protect your payment information. That’s done with the help of Apple’s T1 processor, which is an ARM processor, and probably a variation of the S1 found inside the Apple Watch.
Interestingly, the front-facing camera is also connected to the T1 chip, for security reasons — just ask Mark Zuckerberg or the FBI about front-facing cameras on laptops and why they need to be secured.
These discoveries come from developer Steven Troughton-Smith, who already explored the code that makes Touch Bar tick.
So, does this mean Apple will make a detachable laptop like the Surface Book that can run both macOS and iOS, depending on what you need? No, not really, though it certainly looks like Apple is toying with the idea of making iOS and macOS work together on a Mac in some ways. It also proves that Apple is experimenting with ARM processors on Macs, even if these custom chips are relegated to specific functions and can’t run the entire show.
That said, these discoveries are certainly exciting. Furthermore, it looks like Apple has been working on this particular MacBook Pro feature for quite a while, as most of its apps, if not all, already have Touch Bar support.