iPad and Mac Convergence isn’t the Answer, it’s about Seamless Workflow

| Analysis

Hey, Mac users: Get over it. The Mac isn't becoming an iPad any time soon.

We've had a chip on our shoulder ever since 2007, when Apple rolled out the iPhone, and the iPhone (and later the iPad) eclipsed the Mac as Apple's bigger money maker. Many of us are convinced that it'll just be a matter of time before Apple kills off OS X.

Converged iOS and OS X devices? Don't count on it.Converged iOS and OS X devices? Don't count on it.

Tim Cook once again tried to drive a stake through that particular vampire's heart this week during a recent interview with Independent.ie.

"We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad. Because what that would wind up doing, or what we’re worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants," said Cook.

Cook doesn't dispute that a converged device is exactly what some customers are asking for. I work for an Apple-authorized iPad and Mac reseller, and I'm regularly asked by my customers for touchscreen Macs — especially laptops. They've seen the two-in-one devices running Windows, and they assume that Apple will follow suit.

iOS and OS X certainly share a lot of commonality, and Apple *has* been able to blur the lines between operating systems and devices when it suits Apple's purposes: You can take and make phone calls from your Mac using your iPhone, for example, and continue writing an e-mail on your iPad right from where you left off on your Mac. 

There's a key difference here, however: The goal is to enable you to be more productive, to do more with the technology you have, and to get that work done with the device largely getting out of the way. That's not convergence. It's workflow management.

What's more, a lot of people come to the Mac these days after using an iPhone or an iPad. Apple estimates about half the people buying Macs are new to the platform entirely — they're Windows users, for the most part. iOS, iPhones and iPads inform them about what to expect from Apple products, so it makes sense to make that experience as seamless as possible.

But convergence? That's a different story entirely. There isn't a need for it to happen: OS X and iOS are fundamentally different user experiences. OS X is a cursor-driven interface while iOS is a touch driven interface. As Mr. Cook has articulated, Apple understands and respects the difference. 

I fully expect that as time goes on, we'll see Apple continue to find ways to streamline and tailor the OS X and iOS experiences to make sure that working with both is as seamless as possible. By keeping OS X and iOS distinct but interoperable, Apple's creating a whole greater than the sum of the parts.

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Yes, precisely. Remember netbooks? There’s a reason Chromebooks and Surfaces are floundering. Yes, we do still need file systems and larger screens in spite of what the young’uns may think, and it absolutely cracks me up to no end to be labelled a ‘luddite’ for saying so. wink


$1600 - Underpowered MacBook 12” laptop thats equipped like a tablet
+1400 - Overpowered iPad Pro tablet that wants to be a laptop
=3000 - Total for two great devices with swimming in compromises

Its very easy to see why Tim Cook doesn’t want convergence. He’s found a way to sell two products that overlap in 90% of its function.

Don’t get me wrong. I drool for both of these devices but lets be honest here. EVERY product has compromises.

- iPhones have portability but compromise with small screens
- iPads have big screens but compromise OS limitations
- MacBooks have a full OS but compromise with storage/power limitations
- iMacs have power but compromise on upgradability
- Mac Pros have upgradability but lack portability

So for Tim Cook claiming that Convergence doesn’t work is ridiculous. Sure, taking electrical tape to tie an iPad to a MacBook is an awful idea. But what if Apple pushed their insane brilliance into a hybrid product. Is it really going to be unusable?!? Of course not.

Apple CAN figure out how to make a hybrid system. They just don’t want to because its less profitable. And as we’ve seen with the New Apple then “Think Different” has been replace with “Think Profits”.


I wholeheartedly agree. OS X and iOS are different user experiences and should remain that way. Microsoft is finding, again and to its repeated disappointment, that using a shoehorn is not the way to build an OS.

That said, I stand by me earlier comments that iPad Pro could make a fine OS X system if paired with a keyboard and pointing device (Magic Keyboard, and Magic Mouse or Trackpad). I use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad Air 2 and keep being frustrated that I can’t pair my Magic Mouse with it.  Grrrr.

As well as doing iOS-ey things, sometimes I like to do OS X-style ones. For now that means having two devices. It would be great to have just one (with kbd+pointing device).


“Many of us are convinced that it’ll just be a matter of time before Apple kills off OS X.”

I have not been worried at all about this. This simple reason is that, at a minimum, OS X has to survive so that developers can build iOS apps. Apple lost control of the toolchain before and is NOT going to let that happen again.


I’m sorry, Uriel, but I strongly disagree. It’s not a profit thing. It’s because this is really hard and neither Apple nor anyone else has figured it out. “Tablet mode” and “laptop mode” are quite different from a user-interaction standpoint. There are overlaps such as when I use a keyboard with iPad for writing email, but there are also big, big differences.

Maybe they will figure it out in time but today is not that day.

Scott B in DC

Who said the Mac was going to turn into an iOS device except the know-nothing pundits who spew crap on CNBC?


I like the iPad Pro because it’s an iPad.
I like the MacBook because it’s a Mac.

I think that together they world be a perfectly portable and complimentary pair.

The iPad has the great display for video and drawing (and, oh, those wonderful speakers!). The Mac will run Photoshop and Xcode that will let me do things the iPad can’t.

I could even have the Mac tether to the iPad for ‘anywhere internet’ while I write code to run on the iPad. I can use the iPad as a secondary display or even a secondary input device! Who needs a Cintiq anymore?

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