What it is: Apple announced a new iMac Pro and released a wireless iMac keyboard, but the Touch Bar is missing.
In the wake of Apples’ latest flurry of announcements on Monday, they released a wireless keyboard that includes a numeric keypad (the previous keyboard with a numeric keypad plugged into the computer’s USB port). Apple also announced the iMac Pro. However, if you look carefully, these new keyboards still retain the relatively useless top row of function keys. Since the Touch Bar replaces and duplicates the function keys, nobody seems to have noticed the missing Touch Bar on these new keyboards.
Implementing the Touch Bar on a wireless keyboard should be technically simple to do. The hard part is that the Touch Bar is used for fingerprint recognition. On a laptop, the Touch Bar is integrated as part of the computer itself so the fingerprint recognition sensor cannot be spoofed. On a wireless keyboard, a Touch Bar is not physically connected to the computer, which means that a Touch Bar on a wireless keyboard must send finger print recognition data wirelessly to the computer.
That means a hacker could spoof a fingerprint by sending a bogus wireless signal to the computer.
There’s the dilemma facing the Touch Bar. When placed close to the screen like a laptop, the Touch Bar is easily visible and convenient to use. When placed far away from the display on a wireless keyboard, the Touch Bar will not be as easily seen and used. Then there’s the security element of keeping the wireless connection secure between the Touch Bar fingerprint sensor and the iMac nearby.
Can these problems be overcome? Maybe, but it highlights the limitations of the Touch Bar for desktop computers. The Touch bar is essentially a separate computer so it adds to the cost of the keyboard.
For now, it looks like the Touch Bar is limited to laptops. Time will tell whether the Touch Bar eventually migrates to the desktop as costs drop and security increases. Until then, the Touch Bar may be an alternative user interface that might never catch on. That means we’ll all be stuck with relatively useless rows of function keys forever. Let’s hope the Touch Bar migrates to the desktop soon.