Some laptops are simply utilitarian tools for getting work done. Some are objects of desire. Apple’s high-end new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is as much about wants as it is about needs. Few people really need the laptop’s long, thin touchscreen that runs along the top of the keyboard, but it sure is cool.
The Touch Bar replaces the usual row of function keys (including classics like F1, F2, and F3) with a touch-sensitive strip of screen. You can use it like it is intended (for volume controls, Siri activation, or touch-activated function keys), or you can look for inspiration for creative Mac owners who have turned the Touch Bar into their own personal entertainment device. Check out these delightful Touch Bar apps, ranging from classic games to goofy animations, and open your mind to the possibilities.
A quick reminder: These apps exist outside of the official Apple store, so download and install at your own risk.
The classic iconic video game Pac-Man is usually played on a squarish screen that gives you lots of corners, nooks and crannies to hide out from the bad-guy ghosts. That’s why it is so funny to see Pac-Man transformed into a straight line on a MacBook Touch Bar.
Pac-Bar is an unofficial Pac-Man tribute. You use your keyboard’s arrow keys to move the hungry yellow hero along to the tones of pellet-munching sound effects. You will feel like you’re in an old video-game arcade. It’s a totally new way to experience Pac-Man, and it’s an even more challenging playing experience when you can’t see the ghosts coming from far away.
2. Piano keys
You’ve heard of the world’s tiniest violin; now meet one of the world’s smallest digital pianos. The Touch Bar Piano application puts a row of itsy-bitsy black-and-white keys right at your fingertips (and you will need to use your fingertips to operate them).
Choose from a classic piano sound or select from a variety of other instruments including drums, choir sounds, and special effects like applause. Load up Touch Bar Piano, put on some headphones, and go ahead and play "Chopsticks" until your fingers are tired.
3. Knight Rider
Put on your David Hasselhoff leather jacket and get ready to blast back to the 1980s with a "Knight Rider"-style Touch Bar display. The KnightTouchBar2000 takes the flashing red light look from the nose of famous TV car KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) and puts it above your MacBook Pro keyboard.
This isn’t just about the funny visuals. The app also plays the "Knight Rider" theme song so you can feel like you’re battling the bad guys and driving the world’s coolest car without ever leaving your desk.
Celebrate your very modern Mac with a mini-game featuring a 66-million-year-old dinosaur. TouchBarDino is a goofy and endearing little game based on the Running T-Rex game available in the Google Chrome browser when your internet is offline.
The game features a little T. rex dinosaur that runs along in a straight line and has to contend with a series of saguaro cactus obstacles. Tap the Touch Bar to make the dino jump. It’s all about timing and seeing how far you can go before running into a cactus. It’s an amusing diversion that will give you a fun break from working on your laptop.
5. Nyan Cat
There are two kinds of internet users in this world: those who know about Nyan Cat and those who don’t. In case you don’t, Nyan Cat is an online sensation that started as a popular YouTube video depicting an animated cat with a Pop-Tart body flying through space to the sounds of a jaunty Japanese pop tune. It leaves a colorful rainbow trail behind it. Yes, it’s silly, but it’s also very cute.
The TouchBar Nyan Cat app puts this delightfully odd animation right on your MacBook so you can enjoy the absurdity whenever you need a happy little pick-me-up.
Bonus: Search your photos
The Touch Bar isn’t just about fun and games. Apple’s very own Photos app, which comes preinstalled on your MacBook, is optimized for use with the Touch Bar. This is especially handy if you have a massive library and need to scroll through your thumbnails very quickly. When in library view, the images will be displayed in little slices, but the Touch Bar will give you the date they were taken, so you can narrow down your search. It’s like having your own visual time machine under your fingertip.
Once you find the photo you want, use the Touch Bar to handle basic editing functions, like adjusting the color, cropping, retouching, or adding an artsy filter. It’s an intuitive way to integrate the Touch Bar into your regular computing activities.