What if the first touch-capable Mac is a dual-booting iPad Pro?

I haven’t seen this idea explored and maybe it’s an obvious idea but I keep thinking about it so I thought I’d put it out there.

What if the first touch-capable Mac isn’t actually a Mac? Now that they’ll be using the same chip, what if they start by introducing an iPad Pro that can dual-boot into MacOS when attached to a Magic Keyboard or similar? And your Universal apps and data carry over between modes? That seems to me like a faster path to a touch Mac without actually releasing a touch-capable Mac.

Ridiculous idea? Maybe there’s no reason for such a thing to exist.

In Dec '19, MacSparky asked for our wishes for 2020. Here was my main wish:

I accidentally posted a new topic, which I have deleted.

The thought has crossed my mind, but I see two problems with it. First, the current iPad Pro models only have 6GB of RAM, which is on the low end for macOS (the Apple Silicon Developer Transition Kits come with 16GB, for instance). Second, even with the changes in Big Sur, macOS is not really designed as an entirely touch-driven OS. Some controls are still quite small, like the stoplight buttons in the upper left corner of every window, window resizing controls, etc. (not to mention all the custom UI within applications that’s optimized for pointer-based input).

I think a touch-enabled macOS device is still going to be primarily a pointer and keyboard driven experience, with the ability to reach up and do quick touch input and interact with iOS and iPadOS apps running on Apple Silicon Macs.

I’ve been going on about this for years now, even specifically suggesting we’d see a dual-boot machine in 2021. :upside_down_face:

The two devices do seem to be converging, especially now with the ability to simply run iPad apps natively inside new ARMacs and run unmodified, from day one. But that’s a selling point for Macs. Does Apple need any time soon to offer the reverse capability to iPads, or would doing so sink sales of the new Macs?

Yes, it’s hard to right-touch an icon :slight_smile:

Wouldn’t you use your right hand for a right click and left hand for left click?


Apple is laying the groundwork to fix that, starting with more button-like icons, and the new extended spacing of menubar icons.

Since the Macs can run iPad apps unmodified from the App Store it makes sense to be able to touch the screen when running those apps; that Apple isn’t requiring iOS app developers to in any way accommodate their apps to be used without touch hints strongly that we’re going to see Macs with touch. (Or else that Apple isn’t concerned if some iPad apps don’t work properly on Big Sur.)

I don’t know that the new icons are necessarily a touch accommodation. No reason they’d be easier to mash with your finger than a similarly sized circle or an irregular polygon. I think they’re probably just so iOS and iPadOS apps don’t stand out as “different” or “foreign” in the dock and the Applications folder. Everybody gets a roundrect/squircle.

It’s not just icon shape, it’s a combination of things, including the ability to natively run iOS apps. And there’s zero reason to so greatly space out menubar icons unless it’s for touch.

Sorry, I was just referring to the new app icons in Big Sur, not the other UI changes.

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I’ve expected for a long time that Apple will come out with a dual-OS machine, but that prognostication was off since you don’t even need to run iOS in order to run iOS apps on new Macs.

But since Apple has spent years saying how they don’t intend to make a ‘touch Mac’ and explaining the ergonomic research behind their decision, I’ve expected that any dual-OS touch device would only have basic touch functionality for macOS, including selections, scrolling, and zooming. Hadn’t considered launching but that makes sense too.

I always expected the touchmacs to be notebook computers only, with keyboards that fold back for touch-only use.

Image on 2020-06-29 01.22.36 PM

Let the notebook Macs (the vast majority sold being notebooks) the best portable Macs while also offering iOS apps, and let iPads be the best possible execution of a tablet, while offering desktop/docking add-ons. Any consideration of merging the two devices would probably be years off.

Based on what Apple is doing with Catalyst, SwiftUI, the graphical changes to Big Sur, iOS/iPadOS apps and potentially touch input on Apple Silicon Macs, my prediction is that while Apple isn’t merging the iPad/Mac at the OS level, they are merging the two app platforms. They’re making it as easy as possible for developers to develop cross platform apps, while retaining the ability to customize those apps for each individual platform. I think Terminal and Apple Script will remain on (and exclusive to) the Mac for a long time to come and while the true tablet form factor will remain exclusive to iPadOS. But by and large the same apps will run on both platforms.

Dual booting macOS and iPad is is an awful idea.

Talk about poor user experience.

Why would you take the always on experience of the iPad and wreck it with the need to reboot. The need to reboot to gain no benefits.

There’s no compelling use case here. There never really was, but now there’s cursor support in iPadOS and macOS is going to run iPad apps natively then all you’re getting with a dual boot device is crappy user experience.

It certainly wasn’t a poor experience in 1993 when Apple migrated to PowerPC with a Classic Mac OS9 runtime environment, and it isn’t a poor user experience for anyone running Parallels today.

It’s possible, but I think there are competing interests (different developers on different platforms) and a real-life shortage of Apple devs who have to support a daunting number of multiple hardware platforms, software platforms, and emulation modes.

Two very specific use cases are absolutely a false equivalence with a mainstream consumer device in 2020.

You’re also confusing good user experience with necessity. Nobody would run parallels if they could just run the relevant software natively. Sometimes the path of least resistance also sucks.

I provided two citations of this being done without it being an awful idea or poor experience, one by Apple itself in '93, one a current example used by millions today. Simply saying it sucks and you don’t accept the citations - while not offering anything to support your opinion, has sadly not swayed me. :man_shrugging: (The claim about needing a reboot is a false one, by the way. Have you never used a PowerMac or Parallels?)

… except, it seems, me? (I do take your point about applications, but I (and others) do find it quite useful to run multiple operating system instances concurrently on the same computer.)

Lots of people do, but are you honestly going to suggest that this is something the average computer user wants, needs, will tolerate, and will understand how to do?

A very specific subset of Mac users runs more than a single OS. Even those users are unlikely to see any benefit to running macOS and iPadOS side by side. It’s also not a reasonable comparison for anyone on a forum called Mac Power Users to assert that their use case and technical knowledge is representative of the Mac user base in general.

So yeah dual booting is super useful to a minority of users. That’s not the same as good user experience for everyone else, and it’s certainly not a common use case. You’re also doing it for access to software you can’t otherwise run on your Mac - which is not a use case that makes sense for macOS/iPadOS.

i wasn’t disagreeing in the slightest with the notion that most people don’t need to run more than one OS on their computer.

Nor saying anything at all about dual booting. I was only responding to the assertion that, “Nobody would run Parallels if they could just run the relevant software natively,” by observing that there are people who have use cases for virtualization (not talking about not dual booting) that go beyond running this or that app that’s not natively available. I’ll also be the second to observe that those use cases are far from mainstream, but then so is using Xcode or most other “pro” apps.

I think that I completely agree with you about dual booting, as I can’t see a use case for that for which dual booting is the best answer, but I’m slightly uncomfortable with assuming that because I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.