Apple Needs a Single Computer OS

 This is a concept, I addressed a few months back.  I feel I needed to take another crack at it with the recent announcement of Logic and Final Cut Pro for the iPad.  While the touch interface definitely has its advantages, the limitations of iPadOS lead to important features in both that are just not possible on the Mac.  However, what if those limitations were lifted and the iPad and Mac were treated as equals?  Let’s take a look at the history that is holding Apple’s platforms back.

No Longer a Big iPhone

The iPad started as a touch device running iOS.  Since the Second Generation Pro in the current form factor, it has become a much different device that has become much closer to a desktop computer than the large iPod that it was born as.  While there was a hardware difference between the Mac and iPad during the Intel days; that gap closed considerably with the M-Series chips shared between the Mac and the iPads Air and Pro.  At this point, there’s only a software distinction between the two, with iPadOS still a variant of iOS holding modern iPads back.  

If the touch interface were integrated into macOS, there would be absolutely no reason that one couldn’t use the 11 or 13-inch iPad and a Magic Trackpad as one’s only computer.  The two possible exceptions would be the base model iPad and iPad Mini which are still based on iPhone hardware.  That said, the A14 and A15 are faster chips than many of the final-generation Intel-based Macs, which would make running macOS on the 10th Generation base iPad certainly doable, and the OS runs on Macs with only 4GB of memory, the buyers would most likely be looking for the more scaled-back simple interface of iOS.  As for the Mini, the 8.3” screen is simply too small and should stay on iOS. 

Holding Back the Mac

The other casualty in the artificial distinction between iPad and Mac is the Mac itself.  There was plenty of reason to keep the Mac separate from the iPad a decade ago.  Touch was in its infancy and the iPad just couldn’t do what an intel-powered Mac could.  Both Apple Silicon and the touch interface have matured since then.  Apple had the right idea with the Touch Bar, but the wrong execution.  The screen itself needed to be a touch interface.  Macs themselves have also gravitated overwhelmingly towards laptops where reaching for the screen for a touch-enabled task is far easier than on a big screen and after years of iPads and touch-enabled Windows work machines, quite frankly, intuitive.  Macs feel like a relic of a bygone era, stuck in 2010.  A convertible design would not only make Macs more usable in 2023, but allow Apple to move past a design language that Jony Ive started on the PowerBook G4 in 2001.

MacBooks wouldn’t be the only Macs that could get an upgrade with a touch-based overhaul of macOS.  While Apple has sat in its corner, Microsoft has been innovating.  The last sentence feels like something out of a parallel dimension, but it's true.  While their software team, has been quite keeping up, Microsoft’s hardware division has been pushing boundaries with the Surface line.  The Surface Studio turns from an all-in-one to a massive tablet in an instant because of its hinged stand.  A similar redesign for the iMac could be the next big thing in art and engineering and breathe new life into the product.  Take away the M-series SoC and you have the next generation of Apple display for the Mac Mini, Studio, and Mac Pro if the latter ever finally makes the Intel to Apple Silicon transition. 

Final Thoughts 

It’s 2023, and the computing world has changed so much.  It’s time to stop hampering each and bring all the best features to both.  It’s time for Apple to stop being so conservative with design, and quite frankly, be the Apple that takes risks again.