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Apple’s Touch Bar Developer Guidelines Lean Towards Backwards Compatibility

Apple’s Touch Bar Developer Guidelines Lean Towards Backwards Compatibility

Owners of older model MacBook Pros who worry developers might leave them behind when developing apps to use Apple’s new Touch Bar-equipped machines can rest easy. Apple’s design guidelines for the new machines steers developers away from any non-interactive content for the new feature.

Apple's Touch Bar Developer Guidelines Lean Towards Backwards Compatibility


The Touch Bar shouldn’t show “alerts, messages, scrolling content, static content, or anything else that commands the user’s attention or distracts from their work on the main screen,” according to the document. Developers are expected to treat it as an input device, rather than a second screen, and in fact the guidelines encourage matching buttons to the look of the physical keyboard, whenever possible.

Apple also notes functions should be possible solely with the Touch Bar, both for backwards compatibility, and because users can choose to disable app controls in macOS. Apple also notes apps should offer the ability to complete tasks in the Touch Bar if that’s where they’re started, unless there is no other alternative.

When possible, allow tasks that start in the Touch Bar to finish in the Touch Bar. Users shouldn’t need to switch to the keyboard or trackpad to complete a task unless it’s a task that requires more complex interface controls than the Touch Bar provides.

Apple also urges developers to stay away from duplicating any “well-known” keyboard shortcuts, such as Copy, Cut, Paste, Save, or Quit using the Touch Bar. Also discouraged any duplication of key-based navigation, such as Page Up and Page Down.

Avoid using the Touch Bar for tasks associated with well-known keyboard shortcuts. In general, the Touch Bar shouldn’t include controls for tasks such as find, select all, deselect, copy, cut, paste, undo, redo, new, save, close, print, and quit. It also shouldn’t include controls that replicate key-based navigation, such as page up and page down.

The newly redesigned MacBook Pro debuted at Apple’s big “Hello Again” media event on Thursday. The new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro models became immediately available for ordering via Apple’s website. Shipping estimates for the new machines quickly slipped to 4 to 5 weeks.

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