What is actually holding Apple back from allowing iPads to use Macos?

Is there any software, hardware or other restrictions keeping iPads from using Macos

I don’t get it!

Of course, if it’s simply a case of “it’s a car, not a truck” to put it in Jobsian; that’s fine. I disagree, but that’s their prerogative.
However, I can’t believe they’re dumb enough to not see the obvious benefits of a dual-boot or even “dual interface” version of iPads; so I have to believe there’s a non-obvious reason behind it.

The balance sheet is holding them back. They will kill one category or the other with their new product, and history shows they are ready to do so, but only once they know this will be successful.

Apple is never going to do a dual boot on a consumer device and advertise this as this makes things complex, whereas they have always aimed to appeal to consumers with simplicity. As for “dual interface”, this did not exactly go particularly well with Stage Manager so far.

They will not do anything of a kind until and unless everything is quite seamless for the user.

That said, I’m sure that there’s an iPad Pro running macOS with touch interface somewhere deep in Apple’s labs, much like they had OS X compiled and running on Intel years before the transition to Intel was announced. Apple always keeps their options open.


I completely disagree. They might lose the Macbook Air sales, but so what?

The initial “point” of the iPad is that it was a computer for everyone. The lack of features made it appealing to people who are not tech savvy do not want to mess with OS decisions and have some that just works.

Yes the IPad OS could be more powerful but it’s not a Mac nor should it be


I’m not suggesting we delete iPados, I’m just saying there could be an alternate OS running mode. Dual boot or something.

I’ve used Macs for decades, and have been using an iPad as my primary computer for around five years. And I’ve run Macs remotely from an iPad so I have an idea what it would be like using an iPad running macOS.

It is difficult to get things done on an 11 inch screen, even with a keyboard and mouse. And it is virtually impossible to do it while holding the computer in your hand.

So to be useful, IMO, a macOS iPad would need to be at least 13 in and have a keyboard and pointing device. And it would need extensive UI modifications to be a useful touch first computer. Perhaps Apple will offer a touch screen MacBook in the future that folds backward like the Lenovo Yoga. Or a convertible that can be separated from the keyboard.

Personally I think it is more likely we will see a much larger iPad-like computer that could be marketed to artists, etc. Or to managers/executives who would like something larger than a Macbook but smaller than an iMac sitting on their desks. Something like this might run some kind of hybrid iPad/Mac OS. But I would be surprised.

Because, while I agree iPadOS needs more polishing, it is superior to macOS on a handheld touchscreen device.


I’m pretty sure that is the reason. “Dual boot”. Can you think of any other Apple product where Apple provided multiple operating systems?

The closest parallel would be Intel Macs offering Bootcamp, but that wasn’t something really intended for use by the average user. It was an acknowledgement of the fact that a Mac could run Windows since the architecture was the same, so they built in a way for you to install it.

Apple isn’t going to say “so what” about losing a product line until the replacement is just as good. I would imagine that running macOS without a keyboard/mouse would suck, and that’s going to be a use case if they make it available. It’s just silly to open that can of worms until/unless they have something viable to offer.


Yes. MkLinux, the first Linux I fiddled with many years ago.

Another is A/UX, one I did not use.

Multiple OSs available for Mac hardware.

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If we’re going back to the 80s, I guess then we can include DOS / ProDOS / GS/OS in the mix. :slight_smile:

To me though that’s illustrative - there’s really nothing since Apple released OS X (which we could possibly argue A/UX was a move toward), and there’s nothing from the past 20 years. It doesn’t seem to be how modern Apple thinks. One device, one operating system, one consistent experience is the current doctrine.


Agreed. None of us has seen macOS running on an 11-inch iPad. But Apple has. And I’m glad they don’t release a half-baked product that won’t work as well as iPad power users imagine it will.


iPad power users shouldn’t need macOS. (he said while running for cover :grinning:)


:rofl: No need to run for cover. I suspect actual iPad power users don’t want macOS as they are likely iPad power users because the enjoy and appreciate iPadOS for what it is. It seems to me it’s the disgruntled Mac users that want touch that want macOS on iPads.

I would add to the discussion that I think macOS on any iPad smaller than the 13" is a fools errand. I’ve tried used my dad’s 11" Macbook Air from 2010 and it’s way too tiny. I mean, yeah, it works, but yuck. Not for me.

I’d be curious how many of the folks that currently use a Mac and clamor for macOS with touch have actually spent much time with a 13" iPad Pro attached to a Magic Keyboard with trackpad or other trackpad-type keyboard cover case. Specifically one that’s running the current or last year’s version of iPadOS. I’d guess that IF the rumors are true, by the time Apple releases a macOS touch enabled computer it’s going to look even more like iPadOS with larger touch targets and elements throughout the OS. Currently, Files on my iPad already looks so similar to the Finder that with a few visual tweaks they’ll be indistinguishable from one another.

In other words, visually, iPadOS on a 13" iPad has over the past 3 years come to look more and more like a Mac. Not identical, but increasingly similar. Imagining iPadOS 17 or 18 on a 16" screen with improved Stage Manager. Still not a Mac but ever closer in that “pro” mode. Imagining that and then thinking about the time/effort/cost of macOS with touch.

  1. Who will want to spend the extra money on a touch screen Mac? What does touch bring to that type of user? I’ve heard/read some pundits say it would be nice for just having the option for casual use of a touch screen even if the trackpad remains primary. But if the cost increase is 10 or 20% does that make sense for such a causal “nice-to-have” option?
  2. What will Mac users think about a macOS that has increasingly adopted a larger touch style visual interface?
  3. In a world with touch-based Macs does Apple continue with 13" or larger iPad hardware and iPadOS development that is increasingly closer to a touch enabled macOS? In other words, as they converge is there need for both? Or would macOS take over the pro version of iPadOS for larger iPads that are now Macs? The convergence would be interesting.

I can imagine having a good laugh if Apple were to release touch-based Macs in 2 years and the result being lots of initial excitement followed in a year by “Oh, meh, I don’t use it much because I’m a Mac power user and I prefer a keyboard and trackpad. If you want touch you should probably get an iPad.” Now I’m the one running for cover :grimacing:


What would the home button/bar do in macOS? iPad UX would have it immediately quit to the iPadOS home screen with the user fully confident that the backgrounded macOS cannot drain the battery or slow down the iPad (if the user even thinks about what hidden apps do.) Very hard to do with a massive, general computing OS that could be used a billion different ways when that button is pressed.

If they treat macOS any differently than another app, they’ve now a difficult UX problem, since any amount of confusing modality ruins the experience for millions of iPad users.

They’ve also the technical challenge of running running performant, sandboxed macOS without limiting its ability to do general computing.

Windows S mode is an interesting case study. It’s a Windows installation that is safe to hand to users who would be likely to mess up regular Windows. It’s performant and secure, but it limits what you can do with the computer (no root, and only MS app store apps can be installed.) Exiting S Mode requires a series of steps that no casual user will accidentally do, and the messaging is clear that exiting S Mode is permanent. Someone might complain that they can’t just flip back and forth between the OS modes, maybe insist there’s an R&D version somewhere that works, but that’s an example of the reality of the technical and UX tradeoffs here when shipping to such a large customer base.

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This isn’t true. Apple used to have an 11” Laptop (I want to say MacBook Air, but I could be wrong) and it worked great. Some people (Jason Snell among them) regularly references that they’d love a replacement.

I’d love the ability to run MacOS on an 11” ipad, I’d be severely torn on whether to run iPadOS or macOS


I had the 2011 11” MacBook Air. It was a fantastic device, unbelievably portable and powerful for its time. I had it for 5 years and then a friend used it for two more.



I couldn’t afford one at the time or I would have jumped at it. I love a very small laptop.

Anyone remember the Toshiba Libretto. A great little portable laptop before I used a Mac.

My 11-inch MBA was very compact, cute, but too small. A 15-inch MBP had a nice screen but seemed big and did not get taken many places. My 13-inch M1 MBA is just right.


The 11" Air was the last Apple laptop I had and my favourite of the 10 or so models I used going back to the Powerbook 180.

I’m familiar with it and the12" MacBook “Adorable”.

Jason is a writer. IMO a Mac will almost always be the best choice for someone who is static.


I completely agree that an 11" screen might be too small for a lot of users/use cases, but for me it’d be fine.

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