The Artist’s Palette

Apple's Touch Bar is the beginning of a renaissance

Impression, Sunrise. Claude Monet. 1873.
Impression, Sunrise. Claude Monet. 1873.

 

My first impression? This is huge.

Artists, creators, writers, producers, editors, developers — I mean the list could go on forever. The scope of who uses tools are boundless. The Apple Touch Bar will beautify and simplify all of our lives. But why?

 

Organization

Contextual menus, swappable menus, extended UI’s, no more ugly menus within menus! No more of this shit:

illustrator_menu
Kill me

 

All of those hideous, non-navigated sub-menus can now be contextually available within the Touch Bar UI when a use selects something innocuous such as the Line Segment Tool. The Touch Bar will reveal its contents and maybe general tool options as well: The Arc Tool, Spiral Tool, rectangle Tool, Options, Etc.

Apple’s Ive video featured what looks like Preview, and Image Editing Tools:

 

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-12-34-pm screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-11-28-pm

 

The Live DJ Demo was particularly cerebral and instantly sold me.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-07-55-pm

 

Inspiration

I wasn’t particularly skeptical about the Touch Bar — but rather unsure. Unsure in a familiar way I’ve felt before. Like an artist’s palette:

 

m-0161e-1

 

 

Now we can add another HID to the list of user tools on the MacBook! This is going to be awesome. Getting menus out of the way will hopefully inspire creators so they spend less time navigating menu hell:

 

macpaint

 

and spend more time on the just the canvas:

 

nada-macpaint

 

Usability

The reason this is such a big deal is because Microsoft just announced the Microsoft Surface Studio. Their new PC appears to deliver the same artiste aesthetic the Apple MacBooks and iMac’s have delivered for years. So it’s good to see some ownership and taste dripping into their home-brewed desktop lineup.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-11-38-31-am

 

The problem with the Surface Studio is that between ASUS, Samsung, and Microsoft a user can find that aesthetic anywhere. The Surface Studio attempts to replicate the artist’s palette too closely. This is where the uncanny valley takes over and the user experience of the Studio begins to feels strange — not because it is not an effective OS but because the machine does not truly reflect the experience of the artist’s palette (or in this case, the artist’s studio).

The Touch Bar UI delivers something altogether different and makes no visible attempts to skeuomorph anything. It is a sterile container of transmutable interfaces — geographically separated from the display, instantly creating a hierarchy of menus for the user.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-59-38-pm

 

Conclusion

So non-vital menus, can now move south, freeing the Display area. This will be a lot of fun!

Right?!

 

Oh boy…

 

Just kidding. The documentation is pretty clear.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-33-44-pm

 

This was a smart move for Apple. The MacBook Pro needed something different to set itself apart from their lineup. It needed a good shave. Now it feels grown up.

The future for Apple appears to be wrought with public doubt as their self-driving project takes a step back and iPhone revenue down. But that doesn’t mean Apple’s products are not headed for a revival. With cash in the coffers, Apple is perfectly setup to undergo a renaissance.

I personally believe Apple has some of the best UI Designers in the world and if this is a sign of things to come, I’m looking forward to a new UI paradigm.

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