Apple announced its new MacBook Pro last night, featuring the all-new Touch Bar screen that replaces the function row with an OLED dynamic display. The touch bar can show shortcuts, controls and quick actions depending on what app you are in and what app you are doing. Apple showed off expansive support for Touch Bar in their stock apps at the event yesterday — and now third-party developers are showing what they can contribute to the new interface.
Microsoft has announced comprehensive updates to Office for Mac 2016 to take advantage of the Touch Bar in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. Here’s how it looks …
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Office support was announced on stage by Phil Schiller, a blog post has elaborated exactly what is coming to Office for Mac.
For Word, the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar includes formatting options for the current text, such as bold, italics, underline, text color and bullet styles. Rather than reaching into menus, users can simply tap the dynamic buttons on the Touch Bar itself.
Microsoft highlights how the Touch Bar drastically improves the practicality of full-screen mode. Word can display the common tasks as buttons on the touch bar whilst the main laptop display is dedicated to the document content. Word is further embracing this workflow with a new “Focus Mode” that hides all ribbons and onscreen toolbars on the main display. You can even preview heading and paragraph styles from the Touch Bar, just one tap to apply, removing the need for drill-down contextual menus or ribbons.
In PowerPoint, Touch Bar assists with manipulating the onscreen objects. The Reorder Objects action is readily accessible and brings up a ‘graphical map’ of all the slide’s layers. The Touch Bar also includes quick presentation buttons and text formatting controls like what was seen in Word.
With the Excel update, users can more quickly write formula into their cells by using the suggestions surfaced on the Touch Bar. Type ‘=’ into any cell and the Touch Bar displays common functions, like sum or average, which can be selected and instantly dropped into the spreadsheet calculations. Confirm the formula expression is correct with a green, vibrant, Confirm button.
Outlook adds commands relating to email management and triage at one tap, thanks to the Touch Bar integration. Recent documents are shown when composing an email to quickly add files as attachments, for example. The Today view button on Touch Bar reveals a mini outline of your schedule and calendar, so you can skim your events without using the main desktop window at all. Outlook also includes quick options for Skype calls, like Video, Share Desktop and Hang Up buttons.
The Touch Bar features change as you an application, with controls that update as you move around different tasks and views in an application. Microsoft Office is a critical application for professionals across many jobs so it’s great to see they are onboard, although a date for release of the new Office for Mac with Touch Bar was not given. For more details, check the Microsoft Office blog post.
The new MacBook Pro headlines the Touch Bar as the major change in the hardware but there are many other improvements, including new Intel CPUs and AMD graphics, louder speakers, new butterfly keyboard, 2x larger trackpad and more. The new MacBook Pro is enclosed in a ~20% lighter and smaller enclosure. It starts at $1799 for 13-inch configurations and $2399 for 15-inch configurations.