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Simulate New MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar on Existing Hardware

Want to experience Apple’s new Touch Bar interface before laying down the nearly $2,000 to purchase a computer with it? You’re in luck, as a developers¬†Andreas Verhoeven and Robbert Klarenbeek have created a Touch Bar Demo App that works with Macs running the latest build of Sierra.

Their hacked-together workaround of an application will bring the Touch Bar interface to older Macs, either using an on-screen bar accessible by pressing the Fn key, or using a connected iPad, if you have one available, as well as a bit of developer experience. The app isn’t anything too crazy, as its main function is to provide a display for Apple’s Touch Bar, which is already baked into the latest builds of macOS Sierra. Since the app will work on any Mac, even desktop users can take advantage of the new interface.

Installing the application on the Mac is pretty simple, while the iPad version will require a bit of hackery. To get started on the Mac, update Sierra to 10.12.1, build 16B2657 or later, as this is the first release with Touch Bar support built-in. After updating your Mac, simply download and install the Touch Bar Demo App from GitHub, and you should be ready to experience the Touch Bar interface.

To use the Touch Bar interface on an iPad, a copy of Xcode, and a bit of knowledge about sideloading applications onto your iPad is necessary, even though the process don’t look too difficult. Full instructions for sideloading applications can be found here.

While I’m not sure that I’ll be testing the iPad version, at least not right away, this is definitely an interesting concept and I’ll likely try it out on my Mac at some point in the future. What are your thoughts? Will you be testing out the virtual Touch Bar?

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