Here's an unexpected drawback of Apple's latest flagship laptops: law students in several states are being asked to disable the Touch Bar on their new MacBook Pros, or leave them at home entirely, if they plan to use the machines when they take the bar exam in February. According to an announcement from testing software company ExamSoft, the Touch Bar's predictive text feature could compromise "exam integrity."
If you do bring your fresh new MacBook Pro to a state bar examination in North Carolina, for example, be aware that test proctors have been instructed to keep a look out for models with the Touch Bar and technicians will be on hand to ensure the feature is disabled. Test takers will be approved to use the laptops provided they followed ExamSoft's helpful instructions for reverting the Touch Bar back to a row of standard function keys and save those Doom sessions for later.
In other states, however, the new model of MacBook Pro is banned outright. According to notices from the New York State Board of Law Examiners and the Colorado Supreme Court, users who show up with a Touch Bar-equipped model in those states will have to write their answers by hand, but they will be allowed to re-download the ExamSoft software to another machine for free if they do it in advance.
Although not every state has issued a formal notice yet, Ohio State University law professor and Bar Exam Wizard blogger Katherine Silver Kelly reports that the Touch Bar is also banned in California, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. So prospective lawyers should do their due diligence and check with their local jurisdiction before heading to their exam site.