It’s not every day that Apple invents a whole new interaction model. The last big one was of course the multi touch iPhone screen. Now, Apple’s added a thin striped OLED display on the top of the keyboard on the new MacBook Pros, called the Touch Bar. But it’s glorified shortcuts bar. It could just be the next big thing. It’s a shame you can’t try it without spending $1799.
Well, if you just want to see what the fuss is all about, the next best thing is to emulate the Touch Bar on your Mac. And if you want to actually “touch” the Touch Bar, try doing that on the iPad. Thanks to a developer project on GitHub and some clever side loading on the iPad, that’s actually possible. Read on to find out how.
How to Install and Try Software Touch Bar on Any Mac
Installing and trying a floating, on screen Touch Bar on the Mac is relatively easier than doing so on the iPad..
Step 1: First, you’ll need a differently, updated build of macOS Sierra 10.12.1 (build 16B2657). Head over to this link to download the update file (1.3 GB). Right now, you can’t get this build simply by updating from the App Store. Once the update file is downloaded, install it.
Step 2: Next, we need to download Touch Bar Demo app. Head over to this GitHub link and download the latest version of “TouchBarServer.zip”
Step 3: Once, downloaded, it will show up as an app file. Drag it over to the Applications folder.
Step 4: Open the app. As this is an app from a third party developer, you’ll need to dodge Apple’s security warning. If your Mac doesn’t let you install the app, you need to head to “Security & Privacy” section in System Preferences, and allow app installs from anywhere.
Step 5: Once the app is open, it will show up as a menu bar utility.
Actually using the app is pretty simple.
Just press the “fn” key (it’s the key at the bottom-left corner of the keyboard) and right where your cursor is, the Touch Bar will show up.
You’ll see controls depending on which app you’re in. Currently, you’ll only see it for Apple’s apps like Safari, Preview and more.
How to Try the Touch Bar on an iPad
To try this on the iPad, you’ll need to side load the app using Xcode. Fun. To do it that way, check out the instructions from the developer here.
But It’s made a bit simpler thanks to a precompiled Xcode project file.
Note: The app will need to be reinstalled every 7 days, unless you have an Apple developer account. We’re guessing that you only want to “try” the Touch Bar simulator and don’t see yourself using this for a long time. For that use case, this method should work well.
Step 1: Download the “TouchBarClient.ipa” file from here.
Step 2: Then download and install “Cydia Impactor” from here.
Step 3: Open “Impactor” and connect your iPad. Your iPad name should show up in the list.
Step 4: Drag in the file that we downloaded on top to the section that says “SuperSU“.
Step 5: Enter your Apple ID information to sign the application.
Step 6: The app should now be ready to launch. Make sure that “Allow iOS Touch Bar Clients” option from the menu bar utility is checked.
Simulator Is the next Best Thing
It’s simulated, but it is the real thing. So you’ll get a feel about how all the controls work, how the functionality differs between apps and how iOS’s features like text prediction and emojis actually work.
On that note, are you actually planning on getting the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar? Share with us in the comments below.
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