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Apple’s new MacBook Pro touchscreen strip: What we don’t know

Ina Fried
Customers at an Apple store in Hangzhou, China.
Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

We all know a touchscreen strip is coming to the top of the keyboard on the new MacBook Pro. Thanks to a timely leak from Apple, we even know what it will look like.

But there's still a bunch we don't know. Here are some of the top questions on our mind, many of which we hope to get answers for at today's event.

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  1. What will Apple call the feature? Trademark filings suggest Magic Toolbar as a likely possibility.
  2. What will the keyboard be able to do out of the box, besides TouchID for Apple Pay? What will be in its default "key" set?
  3. How will Mac developers be able to make use of the touchscreen? One would presume those who write apps will be able to create custom function keys — as that would appear to be the main purpose of putting a touchscreen in place of standard keys. What else? (Will they be part of Mac apps, or some other form of extension?)
  4. Will developers be able to write apps just for the touchscreen? (À la Apple's new iMessage apps/stickers for the iPhone.) While function keys for a desktop app are nice, you can imagine some cool stuff being written just for the touchscreen if Apple allows it. I'm thinking sports scores, news, etc. Maybe even little animations, movies, or games.
  5. Beyond Apple Pay (in one of the leaked photos), what else will developers be able to do with Touch ID? Can it be used as a secure, express log-in technique instead of signing in with passwords in Mac apps, the way it can on iOS? How about on the web? Just via Safari — or also Chrome?
  6. What operating system controls the screen? Is it just part of the Mac? Or is it a little ARM device, or perhaps running its own little OS? Is it iOS? WatchOS? MagicToolbarOS?
  7. What's special about the display? Is it Apple's first use of OLED on the Mac? Does it have its own haptic engine for touch feedback?
  8. Will we see a keyboard-only version of this down the road, for use with an iMac or Mac Pro? That would probably require a separate processor and other computer parts, meaning that kind of accessory would likely not come cheap. Will this be built into other MacBooks, or just the Pro?
  9. Is Apple really ditching the escape key? And, if so, how will one force-quit applications that are freezing up? They still do that sometimes, you know.
  10. Will the whole keyboard just be one of these someday?

By Ina Fried,

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