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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. (The claim about needing a reboot is a false one, by the way. Have you never used a PowerMac or Parallels?)
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.
Dual booting isn’t necessary and is far too heavyweight, as others have noted. Virtualisation, and lighter weight still, solutions are better. I would expect Mac to be the Convergence platform, with the new ability for iOS and iPad OS apps to run near-natively there.
(I say “near-natively” because I don’t know whether iOS APIs are a shim over Mac OS ones. I obviously don’t mean emulated instructions.)