macOS and iPadOS on the iPad Pro

What of the argument to put both macOS and iPadOS onto the iPad Pro, and let people switch between them, putting both systems on one device and eliminating the need to purchase both a Mac and an iPad? This violates Apple’s design aesthetic, and lacks historical precedent. 

For one, it’s clunky; a mashing together of two systems that don’t even function together is a chimera, not an evolved solution. 

Two, it’s neither simple nor a ‘solution’. One still could not conduct all their work on one OS; having to shut down one before rebooting into another operating system is less efficient than running two systems simultaneously on different devices with realtime work-sharing, eg Universal Control coming in macOS Monterey. That’s economy of motion, and an Apple solution, not system boot-switching with no continuity. 

Three, it violates the principle of an integrated platform, to which Apple has been demonstratively dedicated, with services like Handoff, cloud syncing and even Universal Control. 

Finally, Apple is about optimization of each component of their platform, whether hardware or software, as a function of their core philosophy and culture – efficient simplicity. Each part has to hold its own relative to other parts. Each product pushes other components into having to justify their continued existence, in turn moving the entire platform forward. Components that fail to justify their existence in this harmonized platform are discontinued, eg the iPod. Putting macOS on the iPad would not only violate that principle, but would declare that the iPad can neither evolve nor hold its own relative to the Mac. Given its adoption (more on that below), history says that Apple would kill, not upgrade iPad. 

Apple and its Customers

We have argued before that Apple’s secret asset is the user community, with which Apple engages in an ongoing dialogue of offer and acceptance of products and services. The creative genius of the user community complements that of Apple’s development and design teams in moving the platform and its ecosystem forward.

Recently, Charlotte Henry covered (via MacRumors) the SellCell iPhone 13 and iOS 15 survey. What came out of that survey should concern Apple. Amongst users, 52.6% were only somewhat or not at all excited about the iOS and iPadOS 15 updates. However slight, that’s still a majority. This suggests a misalignment between Apple’s offer and the community’s expectations and acceptance. 

The key question is why. Was Apple simply trying to mislead or misdirect? Was this a ploy to get users to purchase both iPads and Macs by intentionally hobbling the iPad Pro? And what, if anything does this mean for the future of the iPad? 

Apple is a data driven company, and when it comes to product development, they rely on user data analytics. For the 2021 iPad Pro, the user community now has insight into some of these data from the SellCell survey, and the answer to many of the questions concerning iPadOS development and pro apps can be found in these data. 

When users were asked what features were missing in iOS and iPadOS, only 14.9% of respondents listed professional tools on the iPad, and only 13.2% said better external display support for the iPad. In other words, at most, only about 15% of this representative sample of Apple customers were concerned about iPad Pro specific deficits; the rest focused on iOS. In short, Apple’s calculation is about critical mass. However vocal and influential these iPad Pro users might be, they are insufficient to either threaten the sales of MacBooks or to compensate for any loss of sales in MacBooks by the purchasing the iPad Pro. However dedicated, they remain a minority. 

The majority of iPad users are neither using the Pro version, nor are they using iPads for productivity at sufficient prevalence for Apple to divert investment into the iPad Pro as the preferred portable computer. 

This is not about sentimentality, but about responsiveness to market forces. One can like or not like Apple’s decision, but one cannot argue with its hard, cold logic. Apple is not a sentimental company. 

If Apple believes that the iPad is the future of computing, and there is already an advance guard of early adopting power users who agree, then they are going to have to both demonstrate that use case, and grow that adoption in the user base. Only when those demanding the iPad Pro as their primary computing device achieve critical mass will they convert the iPad’s potential into the kinetics that will transport portable computing, together with its requisite resources and supports, in its direction. Not a day sooner. 

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The RAM specs on the M1 are not being tapped, since all current iPadOS – compatible apps are capped at 5GB, I was surprised by the reaction to this. “OMG I can’t use all 16GB for my one app.” Before the 2021 Pros were announced all iPads had four or at most six GB of RAM. You couldn’t get anywhere near 5GB dedicated to any one app anyway. So after thinking about a 1TB 11-inch model for the extra RAM, I’m now leaning toward a 256GB 12.9 inch one. The bigger screen will be more useful and I’ll still have… Read more »


Funny thing, I’ve made a point of increasing the storage of my devices, usually doubling it when I bought each new one,32GB, 64GB, 128GB. My 10.5 has 256GB so I at first assumed that I should go with the 512. But then I looked at my usage. I’m only using 97GB on the iPad. Digging deeper I found that half of that was movies I had bought but could download again at any time. I’m actually using only about 50GB, So 256GB it is. I think I’ve reached my max, for a while at least.