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Circuit Breaker

This hack lets you simulate the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar on an iPad

Still waiting for Apple to ship your shiny, new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro? Curious to try out the new feature before plunking down $1,799+ worth of cash? Sticking with your old laptop, but interested in seeing how the new UI works anyway?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you should try installing Andreas Verhoeven and Robbert Klarenbeek’s Touch Bar Demo App. The application is a hacked-together workaround to enable using Touch Bar on an older Mac, either as an on-screen bar by pressing the Fn key, or on a connected iPad, should you have one handy. The app simply provides an alternative display for Apple’s already baked-in Touch Bar support — so the bar will dynamically change based on what applications you have open, just like it will on the actual hardware, assuming the application in question actually supports it. Another nice perk is that the application works on any Mac that can run the latest version of macOS, letting you use the Touch Bar interface with Apple’s iMac or Mac Pro desktops in addition to just older MacBooks.

To get the Mac side of things set up, you’ll need to update macOS Sierra to version 10.12.1, build 16B2657 — which adds the Touch Bar support to the operating system — from Apple’s website here. Then, simply download the application from the Touch Bar Demo App’s GitHub page, and you’re good to go.

Getting the iOS application installed to use the iPad as the Touch Bar is a bit tricker, however. To get it up and running, you’ll need to have a copy of Xcode installed. Then, you’ll need to download the TouchBar Xcode project file from the GitHub repo, and sideload the application using Xcode. Full instructions are here — it’s not too difficult to do, but if it’s your first time working with Xcode, it may take you a little longer to get things up and running. Then, simply launch the application on your iPad, connect it via USB to your Mac, and you’re good to go.