This Handy Tool Simulates Mac’s Touch Bar

MacBook Pro Touch Bar

MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, a touch-sensitive strip that can display a range of customizable icons, displays, and buttons, is a new venture within the normally-stolid world of computing hardware, but some people might not be ready to upgrade quite yet. If that sounds like you, there’s a new GitHub repo that puts Touch Bar on an iPad… something fun to play around with until you get a MacBook Pro (if you’re a macOS person, of course).

Via a wired connection (USB to Lightning, or USB-C to Lightning if you’ve got the new MacBook Pro), Touch Bar Demo App lets you try out apps with Touch Bar functionality on any MacBook or desktop computer. Early testing suggests it works in almost real-time, with minimal lag between your iPad touch and on-screen response.

To try it, you’ll need the latest build (16B2657) of macOS Sierra, which has Touch Bar support. Then, simply download the latest release of the app from its downloads page and make sure it’s in your applications folder. From there, you need to build the app in Xcode and make sure it’s signed (as the developers note, you can sideload if you prefer) to push to your iPad.

Once you’ve got the app on your mobile device and wired to your MacBook, apps like Pages or Photos can be enjoyed with Touch Bar functionality. In addition to just plain toying with it – which is a smart move before dropping a few grand on a new MacBook Pro – you can build apps for use with your new touch capacitive toy.

Xcode includes a Touch Bar simulator, but having some real-world experience is always preferred. While not specifically designed for testing your own apps with that functionality built in, there doesn’t seem to be anything preventing it, so long as you take your builds beyond Xcode and create a native app. It may also be a good way to test actual touch capabilities, as Macs are non-touchscreen devices, so testing Touch Bar functionality in a simulator is still a bit wonky.

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