In October last year, Apple – on behalf of Microsoft – announced that the Office suite would soon add support for the new Touch Bar added in the latest iteration of Apple’s MacBook.
The next day, Microsoft detailed how the Touch Bar support would work; today, the Touch Bar support has arrived for Office Insiders on the macOS.
The Touch Bar
Apple’s Touch Bar is not a new idea, but Apple’s implementation of it is quite wholesome; the idea is to replace the stuck-in-the-past function keys with a touchscreen. The touchscreen can display relevant options depending on what the user is doing – it’s the same argument used for on-screen keyboards when the first iPhone came along.
Having these inputs as a display on a touchscreen beside the keyboard gives developers the unique opportunity to customize parts of the hardware, and extend their software into a distant realm.
Office for Mac
Today’s update for Office Insiders on macOS adds the Touch Bar support; the idea is to display options that are relevant to what the user is doing at the time.
Word, for example, will have an option to quickly switch to the Focus Mode, along with several options to change the color of the text or the font style, etc.
PowerPoint, on the other hand, will display a graphical map of all the layers on a slide; it’s also possible to reorder the layers right from the Touch Bar.
Excel, meanwhile, highlights the most used functions, provides a few options to customize cells, and recommends a few charts for the type of data the user is working with.
In addition to the big three Office applications; Outlook and Skype for Business are also getting Touch Bar support.
Outlook, by default, will display a ‘Today’ view on the Touch Bar, listing all the events of the day; while composing an email in Outlook, the Touch Bar will display a list of the most recent documents, enabling users to attach them with a tap.
Skype for Business, on the other hand, will provide users quick access to the mute, hang up, share desktop, and video call functions.
Office Insiders on macOS can download the Insider update right now; the version is bumped to 15.31 if you want to make sure you are on the right version.
Once installed, the Touch Bar should start working instantly and as expected; if you do find any bugs – you are an Insider – kindly report them.
A tiny caveat, though: the Outlook and Skype for Business support aren’t quite baked yet. That’s not part of today’s rollout for Insiders. Hopefully, it won’t take too long.