Hybrid Macs and iPads Aren’t Going to Happen

| Particle Debris

It seems as if there's always some discussion of an Apple hybrid device going on. Perhaps it's a MacBook Air with a touchscreen that boots into iOS. Or maybe it's a supercollider smashup of iOS and OS X. Why does this discussion even start?

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First of all, I think that it's a lot easier to conceive of some kind of merger without knowing what the technical difficulties would be years after iOS branched from OS X. Or the market impact. If a famous Apple developer were to write a technical article, perhaps 10,000 words, explaining all the ins and outs of merging iOS and OS X, we could all learn something and go from there. But for an everyday columnist to just throw out the idea and hope that tens of thousands of readers will jump on the bandwagon and bring pressure to bear on Apple is ridiculous.

With regard to a dual OS, not a merged OS, the speculation often focuses on a standard 13-inch MacBook Air. However, when the display is removed from the hinges (or maybe not) it boots up as an iPad. That sounds pretty nifty, in a geek-snort kind of way, but the concept hasn't been terribly popular in the PC world,  I don't think it will be any more popular in the Apple world.

I don't see Apple trying to satisfy one small market with two very popular products. I don't see Apple trying to risk any kind of decline in Macintosh sales. I don't think the price point would be very favorable. I think this would be viewed as a desperate attempt to bring back the keyboard to iPads, and the comparison to the Microsoft Surface would be quick and brutal. Finally, I believe that Apple wants the iPad, as the quintessential tablet, to evolve naturally. The company has a good thing going, and hybrids smack of retrograde motion -- even if the company has protected its flank with an alluring patent.

Consider. iOS is derived from OS X and could, in principle, have multiple user accounts. The reason Apple doesn't do that, I surmise, is that it wants each person to have their own iPad. If iPads could be shared in a family, that would adversely impact sales. The same idea, of course, applies to hybrids.

I just don't see hybrids of any kind in Apple's future, and I think Macs and iPads will evolve in a natural way, serving the needs of the respective customers in the best possible way. That's why I believe that the mythical 12.9-inch iPad, if it arrives, will remain a pure iPad.

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Tech News Debris for the Week of January 27

On the 30th anniversary of the Mac, I saw something nifty and saved it. We love doing comparison charts, but they're generally with modern products, often from different companies. Here's a comparison chart that spans 30 years: the original 128K Mac vs. a modern 27-inch iMac. "1984 Macintosh vs. Today's Apple iMac: Spec Showdown." Very cool.

"The age of the iPod is over." This article takes a sensible look at the demise of the iPod's age of dominance. However, the article suggests, and I also believe that iPods will be around for awhile for various reasons: jogging with something really lightweight, use in older cars that have only a 3.5 mm jack, music in secure government areas that don't allow iPhones and gifts for kids too young to have an iPhone. Nothing ever dies completely, and so long as Apple can sell a few million a year, there may be a continuing market for at least one model. But, yes, I agree. We're generally done with iPods.

The next article has a similar theme, but the title is more dramatic. Steven Rosenbaum's thesis is to follow the advertising money to understand the future of conventional TV, and he's probably right that broadcast TV is in trouble. What with the age of the DVR, people skipping commercials routinely, it makes sense for advertising dollars to go where no DVR can. This will likely fit into any thinking by Apple. That is, we can forget about seeing any kind of interface to the DVR, as Google tried with the original Google TV. So let's follow the money: "Why Television Is Dead."

I don't even want to think about what this means in terms of the quality of broadcast TV in the future. Wait! Is it any good now? (Well, there is NCIS and Castle.)

Supply chain rumors have suggested that Apple may be working on a 12.9 inch iPad. The current top of the line iPad is called iPad Air. Therefore, the thinking goes, Apple will release an iPad Pro. But will it just be a larger iPad? Or will it be a new kind of animal? Federico Viticci at Mac Stories covers just about every conceivable scenario. Stuff to ponder: "Thinking About An iPad Pro."

I'm bringing up this next subject because we're constantly looking to the future and what new technologies will come along. In some circles it's thought that robot companions may assist with computational chores, relieving us from some customary tasks we do on Macs. Another scenario is assisting the disabled. In any case, a lot of the money being spent on robot research is in the government nowadays, and that raises questions about how future robots will behave.

We are not at all assured that intelligent, highly mobile robots with human-like characteristics will be built to comply with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. And so, a question like this must surface. "Should a robot decide when to kill?"

Finally, I just can't get enough of the new Mac Pro. Here's another extensive review fron Dave Girard at ars technica, this time with a specific viewpoint. "A pro with serious workstation needs reviews Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro."

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Teaser image credit: Apple

Killer robot via Shutterstock.

Comments

mactoid

Why is everyone so wigged out about a keyboard for the iPad? There have to be a dozen or more bluetooth keyboards for the iPad easily available (I own at least six of them!), and now that you can use bluetooth on the plane, there is no incentive for one that plugs in thru the port. 

I know why MS makes a big deal about it; it’s the only thing (they think) their pad device has going for it. Just don’t understand the clamoring for an iPad keyboard!

Spyder Ryder

For quite awhile now, Apple has been trying to make their desktop and laptop computers immolate the ipad and the iphone.  On a tablet you use your fingers to swipe between screens, and ever since Lion, they have been trying to make every desktop do the same thing, except we had to buy a magic mouse or magic touchpad in order to do that.  But if they’d just put a damned touch screen on our laptops and desktops, we could interact with the OS just like we do IOS, and what, quite obviously, Apple is wanting us to do.  Right now they are in limbo, giving us swiping ability in our OSX, without the proper way to do it.  I think there is a huge market for a touch screen on the laptops and desktops ONLY because Apple forced us to use OSX like IOS and move screens around.  OSX is really designed for a touchscreen now.  It’s the natural progession.

geoduck

Consider. iOS is derived from OS X and could, in principle, have multiple user accounts.

Thank you, no.
I can see the need for multiple users, in the corporate world. I never have seen the need for it in the home environment. Maybe because
I learned on Classic Mac OS, maybe because I don’t have anything to hide from my wife, whatever the reason but I don’t need multiple accounts on my Mac. My wife’s computer, my computer, all of my virtual machines, have one account. As far as an iPad, iPhone, etc., no. I REALLY don’t want multiple accounts on my Devices.

iJack

“Why does this discussion even start?”

It was pretty popular here a year or so ago; not least with some of the TMO staff. Articles like, “The iOSification of OS X?” I hate the idea.

“Why is everyone so wigged out about a keyboard for the iPad?”

Not me. Got me a Logitec Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for my mini, and I love it! I can actually type on it, and the ƒ keys make shortcuts a reality.

Lancashire-Witch

I shall be really sad when my iPod Classic dies

It’s still the best device for listening to podcasts.

wab95

John:

It’s difficult to get enthused, or to have one’s imagination stirred by the present hackneyed concept of a hybrid device that somehow converges iOS and OSX software and/or hardware features with a supposed functional enhancement that, somehow, improves human productivity. One gets even let’s stimulated when analysts call for such hybridisation without specifying a ‘how’, let alone a ‘why’. However, what gets one piqued is when a supposed analyst says something asinine like Patrick Wang’s comment that a hybrid device will “make the iPad lineup more appealing to business customers”. Seriously? As if the iPad’s uptake by Fortune 500 companies, outperforming every other tablet in enterprise market penetration, was not evidence enough of its ‘appeal’. This is the type of flawed reasoning that one associates with sheer inattentiveness or intake of mind altering substances, and not serious commentary meant to move the conversation and the industry forward.

Given the iPad’s uptake in both the personal consumer and enterprise spaces, and its continued expansion in both, complaining about its form factor and functionality conjures images of critics of the first flying machines, and despite seeing every machine with flapping wings crash and burn, having some arm-chair Einstein opine what a pity it is that the Wright brothers chose to make a flying machine whose wings don’t flap, and that what they really need to do is make a flapping flying machine. The Wright brothers response would probably not be fit to print.

Such an argument would be as devoid of inferential reasoning as is the idea of a hybrid device. Where is the evidence that this is desired by anyone other than armchair critics (and the occasional commenters/MS apologists at tech websites)? Where is the empirical data of enhanced performance? Where are the market survey data of pent up demand amongst enterprise clients? In the absence of any of these, how is it that these analysts continue to churn out this click bait chum? Perhaps if we just stop clicking, these analysts will move along to something thought-worthy.

Regarding the iPad Pro, Federici Viticci has articulated some well-reasoned conclusions about likely scenarios. I think that John Brownlee, whom you cited earlier, is correct that the iPad solves the form factor challenge, and that this is unlikely to change. I also cannot envision different versions of the iOS for consumers and professionals, although I could be wrong. I think that would simply add complexity and confusion to the platform for clients and developers, alike. If there is a professional iPad in our future, my feeling is that this is going to be all about the performance capacity of the hardware, which might or mightn’t access unique capabilities in iOS. What it should do, however, to justify the professional moniker, is provide a level of performance that approaches or matches desktop level performance for the applications that it runs. As a professional, I neither need nor require multiple resizable windows on my iPad. I could use a bit more screen real estate, but am functional with the 9.7 inch display (the Mini is no substitute for productivity in my usage). What I really require, however, is horsepower and performance that can do serious scientific computational work, including rendering of graphic displays of analysed data. I think the iPad, with its new 64-bit architecture, is well on its way to making this possible, with or without a larger screen. However, in my view, anyone who truly wants a tactile keyboard and a cursor, really wants and already has OS X on a Mac, rather than iOS on an iPad.

KitsuneStudios

Geoduck: I could see use on iOS for multiple users as an option, the same reason I use multiple users on my home computer: To keep my work account separate from my home account, while sharing the same machine.

A number of tools I use (Adobe CC, DropBox, Skype, Google account) are different between the home and office, and are used in different ways. It’s probably a bad idea to add my role-playing group to my office Google account so we can use Google Hangouts to play games on the weekend, or share game files with dropbox.

Same on my phone, which defaults to my personal Google account rather than my office account for e-mail and calendars. Multiple users would allow me to set up my phone for office contacts, email alerts, and office tools while at work, then games and personal browsing at home.

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