In a series of tweets sent out last night, and now in an interview with The Verge, developer Steven Troughton-Smith has detailed the inner workings of the MacBook Pro’s new retina Touch Bar, describing its T1 chip as “a variant of the system-on-a-chip used in the Apple Watch.” This means that the Touch Bar is essentially running watchOS on the T1 chip, which macOS then communicates with through an interconnected USB bridge that “relays multitouch events back to macOS.”
The developer described this software setup as advantageous for the MacBook Pro’s security, since the T1 chip also acts as a layer of protection and “gates access” to the laptop’s FaceTime camera and Touch ID sensor. In the series of Tweets he sent out last night, Troughton-Smith also theorized that watchOS could power the Touch Bar alone without relying on macOS to be running on the MacBook Pro, which Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi has now confirmed.
You can theorise about the future here. Now that Apple has put an ARM iOS-like device inside every MacBook Pro, you can imagine a future wherein said iOS device takes over more and more functionality from the traditional x86 macOS device, up to a point where macOS only gets called upon when needed.
We may actually have just been given a hint of Apple’s transition-to-ARM strategy.
I think Apple’s ultimate strategy will be to sell only iOS devices, so you program via a touch screen and make iOS apps via the iPad itself through some kind of new Xcode.
We’ve already seen their Swift playground, which I think is meant to test out those grounds and see how popular that approach will be among kids, so that they will be used to the idea of programming directly on the iPad, when it matures enough for that.
Then all software developed for Apple devices will have to go through Apple and the App Store.
From their perspective, they can really lean on producing only iPhones and iPads up to desktop size with one single CPU/GPU architecture, and that can become quite elegant, if they so choose.
This will make Apple pretty much irrelevant as a developer/creative platform for the rest of us, so I just hope someone else will pick up the mantle of making solid hardware and OS combinations for us to replace the Macbook, the Mac Pro and the Macbook Pro.
They are way into “sugared water” territory now.
It is anyway time for me to start looking at how to dismantle a decade of using OSX and lots of paid OSX only apps and move elsewhere.