MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar is powered by iOS

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macbook pro touch bar
I bet you didn't know that!
Photo: Apple

One thing Apple didn’t tell us during its big MacBook Pro unveiling on Thursday is that its new machine runs iOS. However, it’s not quite the iOS you’re already used to.

Instead, Apple’s mobile operating system is there solely to power the MacBook Pro’s new OLED Touch Bar.

In actual fact, the Touch Bar runs a modified version of watchOS, which itself is a modified version of iOS. It’s powered by Apple’s new T1 chipset, and it runs independently of macOS Sierra, which is used by the rest of the machine.

“Touch Bar runs watchOS, and macOS sends it framebuffer data over USB,” explains iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith. “This presumably then relays multitouch events back to macOS.”

Troughton-Smith also explains that the T1 chip uses ARM architecture — like the chips in our iOS devices — and also manages the security of things like Touch ID, the Touch Bar, and even the MacBook Pro’s front-facing FaceTime camera.

It’s thought Apple chose a modified version of watchOS because the T1 chip is similar to the new S1 chip found in the latest Apple Watch. Theoretically, the Touch Bar could be active while macOS and the MacBook Pro’s own CPU are off.

It’s incredibly interesting that Apple is running watchOS and macOS side-by-side like this, rather than just making the Touch Bar’s operating system an extension of the former. It makes us wonder whether the company will take things a step further in the future.

One possible route Apple could take is to make an entire display that uses iOS, which could allow for a 2-in-1 notebook with a detachable tablet display like the Microsoft Surface Book. However, it seems highly unlikely a device like this is in Apple’s plans.

Via: Boy Genius Report