Apple last year dropped the polarizing Touch Bar from the MacBook Pro models, but Dell has just launched a new laptop with a touch bar in the trackpad …

Background

Back in 2016, Apple replaced the function keys on the high-end MacBook Pro models with the Touch Bar – a high-resolution touch-sensitive strip that allowed access to function keys but could also have dynamically changing content depending on both apps and user preferences.

Apple described it as one of the headline features of the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro.

The Touch Bar places controls right at the user’s fingertips and adapts when using the system or apps like Mail, Finder, Calendar, Numbers, GarageBand, Final Cut Pro X and many more, including third-party apps. For example, the Touch Bar can show Tabs and Favorites in Safari, enable easy access to emoji in Messages, provide a simple way to edit images or scrub through videos in Photos and so much more.

Not everyone was a fan, however, with the lack of a physical Escape key coming in for particular criticism. Apple responded to this in 2019 with a hybrid design, with a normal Escape key and a shorter Touch Bar. Two years later, the physical function keys were back, and it was like the Touch Bar never existed.

Dell puts touch bar in the trackpad

Dell clearly thinks the idea had something going for it. But instead of replacing the function keys, the new Latitude 9330 effectively embeds a touch bar into the trackpad.

Interestingly, however, the company has opted to enable the feature only for Zoom calls.

The new Latitude 9330 is the world’s first laptop with a collaboration touchpad – offering quick access to microphone mute/unmute, video on/off, screen share and chat in Zoom meetings. With the collaboration touchpad, you have all these controls at your fingertips and once the meeting ends, the icons disappear (no longer enabled), and the full trackpad is restored.

Dell’s new high-end laptop also includes some high-tech privacy features.

The latest Intelligent Privacy features conceal information on your screen when an onlooker is detected and dims the screen when you look away – also saving battery […]

Enter SafeShutter. It’s the industry’s first automatic security webcam that knows when to automatically open or close by syncing to your video conferencing applications (if you give it permission), so you can work securely and confidently from anywhere.

What are your thoughts on embedding a touch bar into a trackpad? Let us know in the comments.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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