Monday, Apr 26, 2021, 10:07 Hardware

macOS On The iPad Pro M1? Apple Says No – But Arguments Are A Bit Shaky

Microsoft offers so-called convertibles with their Surface Pro and Surface Go. Other manufacturers like Lenovo also have such tablet/notebook hybrids in their lineup. They run the same operating systems as notebooks and desktops. Apple, on the other hand, only relies on macOS for computers; iPhones and iPads come with iOS/iPadOS. However, Apple's own M1 chip works inside the new iPad Pro, just like in iMac, MacBook Pro 13", MacBook Air and Mac mini. What could be more obvious than to equip the tablets with the "big" operating system at some point?

Identical CPUs in Macs and iPad Pro
This wish was at least occasionally expressed in forums and social networks after Apple presented the new iPad Pro. It is anything but absurd for several reasons: Apple's Silicon Macs and the two high-end tablets use the same CPU architecture, and the large iPad Pro has a similarly large display as the MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1. Apple also has Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio keyboards in its lineup, which convert the flat computers into notebooks or desktops. However, their use does not change the operating system.



Merging Platforms is not up for Discussion
According to Apple, this will remain the case for the foreseeable future. A merger of the two device classes is not up for discussion, said marketing boss Greg Joswiak and the manager responsible for the hardware sector, John Ternus, in an interview with The Independent. On the other hand, they plan to continue focusing on improving the two separate product lines. Apple does not want to get bogged down in theories about how to align tablets and computers. In addition, customers are divided in this regard. Some preferred unification so they would no longer have to choose between Mac and iPad. Others feared a merger and even speculated a "plot" in which Apple was planning to eliminate a device category.

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iPad Pro has significant performance headroom
Ternus added that the California-based company does not want to restrict either Mac or iPad in any way to make the other device look better. "We're pushing ourselves to make both the best possible computer and the best possible tablet," Apple's hardware chief said. That's clear in the new iPad Pro, he said, with customers benefiting from the fact that the device has significant performance headroom and can't become obsolete after a short time. This is one of the reasons why the decision was made to equip the tablet with the M1, he said. "The best Apple Silicon chips always found their way into the iPad Pro, and the M1 is just the best of our processors."

Arguments shaky - why it's an artificial limitation after all
However, the arguments are vulnerable and not credible in at least one respect. Mac and iPad Pro both rely on an M1 chip and are more closely related than ever. Technically, it would be quite possible to (additionally) equip the iPad Pro with macOS - and thus show a mouse- and keyboard-oriented interface instead of a touch one when connecting it to an external display. In this case, it would indeed be clear to many users that they would no longer need Mac and iPad next to each other, which would certainly affect sales figures. Apple is of course aware of this fact - which is why even a tablet with the performance of a good desktop PC is only allowed to work with an adapted smartphone operating system.

Hardly anyone believes Apple's statement that this is not a deliberate limitation, but opens up opportunities. This is relatively clearly a marketing decision not to allow in-house competition. However, if you look a few years into the future, it seems to be the logical way to no longer need three different high-performance devices (Mac, iPad, iPhone) in parallel - at some point, one platform will completely replace the tasks of the others. However, Apple probably doesn't want to offer two completely different interfaces with one device – and they don't want to offer the same UI for mouse and touch. This would require much more harmonization of iPadOS and macOS – and is highly difficult because touch systems have totally different requirements for UI elements than normal desktop UIs.

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