Lost in Apple’s prime-time “Scary Fast” event Monday night, which introduced new MacBook Pro models based on Apple’s new M3 processors, was the demise of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple failed to mention that, like Michael Myers slashing a babysitter, it killed off the 13-inch Pro without any display of emotion.
The 13-inch Pro model was always a bit of an oddball, squeezed between the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Airs and 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros. It was also that last remaining MacBook with the much-derided Touch Bar. Every MacBook now has a traditional row of physical function keys. And we are all the better for it.
I give Apple credit for taking a swing with the Touch Bar, but I’m not going to shed a tear at its funeral. My first MacBook predated the Touch Bar. My second MacBook featured the Touch Bar. My current MacBook marks a return to the classic function key row. Guess which was my least favorite MacBook?
If you said the Touch Bar model, stand up and collect your prize. I admit I was curious and perhaps even a bit excited about the Touch Bar when I first got my Touch Bar MacBook. Within days, however, the honeymoon was over, and I was ready to run back into the arms of a row of function keys. But because I’m loyal (and cheap), I stayed with my Touch Bar MacBook for four years.
Function row > Touch Bar
The Touch Bar made my daily life in front of my MacBook a bit more of a chore. It prevented me, for instance, from blindly tapping a function key once or twice to adjust the volume or screen brightness. Instead of performing that simple maneuver, the Touch Bar forced me to look down from the display and tap and hold and slide to turn the volume down a notch. That might not seem like that big of a deal, but that’s an action I perform dozens of times a day. It got old fast.
The Touch Bar not only made simple processes more complicated, but it was also distracting at times. When typing in certain apps, it would flash and blink with every keystroke. It looked like a mini fireworks display was occurring right above my fingertips when I was trying to concentrate and work.
I never found an app that made good use of the Touch Bar that might offset the number of minor annoyances I had collected about it. I had hoped it would offer assistance in navigating my photos library, but the photo thumbnails were so tiny on the Touch Bar that I found them useless. I also never found the controls it offered in Chrome or Safari more useful than simply navigating either browser via the MacBook’s stellar touchpad.
With the 13-inch MacBook Pro meeting its end, the Touch Bar can pull up a seat next to the butterfly keyboard and Intel processors in Apple’s scrapheap of MacBook features that came and went.