If true, the iPad would be able to perform more functions like a full computer. And it would support applications from both the Mac App Store and iOS App Store.
Apple executives have been quick to dismiss this sort of product in the past. Microsoft does this with the Surface tablet, which is both a tablet and a desktop computer.
In 2012, CEO Tim Cook likened the convergence of tablets and laptops to combining “a toaster and a refrigerator… those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user.”
“We are not going to that party,” he added. “But others might from a defensive point of view.”
And earlier this year, a trio of Apple executives (Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, and Bud Tribble) told Macworld that iOS and OS X will remain separate platforms.
“[It’s] absolutely a non-goal,” Federighi said. “You don’t want to say the Mac became less good at being a Mac because someone tried to turn it into iOS.”
But the crux of this argument is against merging iOS and OS X; Apple doesn’t want to create one operating system to rule them all. But they have never dismissed the idea of porting a full version of OS X to a mobile device like a large 12.9-inch tablet.
Frankly, putting OS X in a jumbo-sized iPad would be a brilliant move.
Products evolve. Look no further than the iPhone, which has grown from its small form factor to look and behave more like a pocket-sized tablet. And now there are so many large phones out there, the tablet needs more reasons to exist. Sure, it has a big beautiful screen, but it needs more.
The challenge with the iPad, and all tablets, is creating enough “newness” in each model while still offering portability and plenty of battery life. People buy tablets as often as they buy full computers, not phones, so people need a good reason to buy a new iPad. The ability to handle desktop applications for the first time would be a major reason to buy this tablet over others.
From a technical perspective, it wouldn’t be that hard for Apple to accomplish a desktop-class iPad. The A8 chip, Apple’s second-generation 64-bit chip that powers the iPhone 6/6 Plus, has “desktop-level architecture.” Even if Apple needed to throw in an extra Intel processor, which Mac computers require to run OS X, the 12.9-inch iPad would still host enough interior real estate to handle an extra chipset, and more importantly, a bigger battery to power all of these chips.
Apple would have to build a touch-optimised version of OS X, but that shouldn’t be too difficult. At its core, iOS has always been a touch-optimised version of OS X (that’s also simplified and reconfigured for smaller devices), so Apple simply needs to teach the full version of OS X to understand touch inputs as well as pointer clicks.
Add a few ports for peripherals (maybe, finally, USB?), Touch ID for security purposes, and a detachable Bluetooth-enabled keyboard (the iPad’s digital keyboard still requires your full attention), and you’ve got a yourself Macintosh Tablet — a device that works like a traditional tablet, but can also be “plugged in” to behave like a full computer.
And who knows, maybe Apple will be generous and make it cheaper than its thousand-dollar laptops.
You might be thinking, “ok, but why?” Here’s one big reason: OS X allows users to have multiple windows, “spaces,” and applications on the screen at once. If people want multitasking — true multitasking, not just double clicking to quickly enter another already-open app — OS X would give iPad users the ability to have several elements running on screen simultaneously, which would be a major boon for productivity.
Then there’s the filing system. Current iPad users can’t access the files in their tablet, because it doesn’t work that way. But Finder in OS X would let iPad users have an organised place to keep all their files, documents, and more.
And of course, being able to use the iPad like a tablet when you need portability and a full computer when you need to get things done quickly, like typing, you have both options.
Again, this is all about productivity.
With better organisation, multitasking, and security, an iPad like this would solidify Apple’s standing as the preferred tablet for the enterprise, while also appealing to smaller businesses and merchants that use iPads to track their finances and even process customer payments (through Square, but maybe Apple Pay, too).
Some may worry about an “iPad Pro” like this eating into Mac sales, since there’d be little reason to purchase a more expensive device when the tablet can do all the same things — but it’s also a tablet. Apple wouldn’t need an all-in-one iPad solution like this, but the iPhone was an all-in-one solution (phone, Internet, and music), and look how that product turned out.