Big software companies like Adobe, Google, and Microsoft have all begun modifying their most widely used applications to include support for the Touch Bar display on Apple’s latest MacBook Pro laptops. Some indie developers have done the same thing.
But many, many Mac apps don’t let you do anything with the Touch Bar, five months after Apple unveiled its 2016 MacBook Pro and introduced tools and guidelines to help developers build for its Touch Bar.
That’s about to change.
See, many developers rely on open-source software called Electron to operate desktop versions of their existing web applications. Earlier this week, the team behind Electron released a beta version of the software with new features that will let developers add Touch Bar functionality into existing Electron-powered apps.
“The new Touch Bar API allows you to add buttons, labels, popovers, color pickers, sliders, and spacers. These elements can be dynamically updated and also emit events when they are interacted with,” Kevin Sawicki, a developer at GitHub who contributed to the additions, wrote in a blog post.
Electron is among the most popular projects on GitHub. Sure enough, GitHub is the company behind it. Electron serves as the underlying framework for another piece of GitHub open-source software, the Atom text editor.
Now Atom could very well get Touch Bar support soon. The same thing could happen to Microsoft’s competing Visual Studio Code text editor.
Altogether more than 300 apps are built with Electron. That includes Basecamp 3, Brave, Discord, Ghost, Hyper, Docker’s Kitematic, Mattermost, Nylas N1, Automattic’s Simplenote, Slack, Tidal, Tweeten, WordPress.com, and Yhat Rodeo. Already someone has shared a plugin that brings Touch Bar support to Hyper.
In other words, get ready to see the Touch Bar becoming useful in more and more of the apps you use on the Touch Bar every day.