MacBook Pro Touch Bar Uses Variant of watchOS

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The Touch Bar in the new MacBook Pro lineup is a unique OLED touchscreen, and it apparently shares even more in common with the Apple Watch.

In a recent interview with The Verge, which was expanded upon from a series of tweets, developer Steven Troughton-Smith breaks down what he’s discovered about the Touch Bar in the new MacBook Pro, exposing its similarities to the Apple Watch, and a few other important findings.

As Troughton-Smith describes it, the Touch Bar’s integrated T1 chip is a “variant of the system-on-a-chip used in the Apple Watch.” Breaking it down further, that means the Touch Bar is essentially running watchOS, at which point macOS Sierra “relays multitouch events back to macOS” through a USB bridge relay.

“From everything I can piece together, the T1 chip in the new MacBook Pro is a variant of the system-on-a-chip used in the Apple Watch,” explains Troughton-Smith, in an interview with The Verge. “Running watchOS on the T1 lets the Mac benefit from Apple’s deep work on iOS embedded security, as the T1 gates access to the Touch ID sensor and, from the looks of it, the front-facing camera in the new MacBook Pro too.”

A few other noteworthy tidbits: the T1 chip in the Touch Bar does not have any fixed storage, and instead boots from a ramdisk measuring in at 25MB. That means it’s not the full version that is found in watchOS. What’s more, the T1 chip and the Touch ID sensor are paired together, at the factory level, so if one acts up you won’t be able to replace them individually.

And, just maybe, this means that the MacBook Pro lineup could bridge the gap between macOS and iOS at some point in the future:

“Perhaps someday it could run a higher class processor, like Apple’s A-series chips, and allow macOS to ‘run’ iOS apps and Extensions, like iMessage apps, or manage notifications, system tasks, networking, during sleep, without having to power up the x86 CPU.”

[via The Verge]