Your prediction on the “convergence problem”

Like many, I am itching for Apple to make a portable device that will allow me to take handwritten notes and use Mac OS. Yeah I have a MacBook and an iPad but I just don’t like carrying both around, which means that the newest device (currently iPad Air 4th Gen) usually wins out.

So the obvious solution everyone talks about is a touchscreen Mac. But Jason Snell has recently been surmising that an iPad with a Mac VM mode may be the answer or an iPad that goes into “Mac mode” as Mark Gurman puts it.

Which do you think will it be? A touchscreen Mac or a “Mac mode” iPad? Or something else or that Apple will never solve this problem?

As for me, if Apple doesn’t have this sorted by 2025, I think I will get a 15” MacBook Air with a neo smart pen instead of an iPad.

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I’ve argued before and still think Apple is getting there, whether intentionally or not (and I’m pretty sure Apple does most things intentionally).

I have zero information beyond what I see as a consumer. But that’s a lot: at least some iPads increasingly resemble a MacBook screen, now even with the camera on the long edge. Sidecar and Universal Control establish mouse and keyboard use on the iPad. Apple’s keyboards give the iPad an optional MacBook-like form factor. The macOS look and feel has gotten more touch-friendly, with the now-not-so-recent redesign and its larger icons etc. iPads can use SSDs. Oh – and don’t they use similar chips too? I bet I’m missing a few things.

I’m also sure there is more to be done. And none of this means Apple will in fact pull any of the possible triggers: putting macOS on an iPad, putting iPadOS on a Mac or somehow merging the two.

But I increasingly think the groundwork is being laid so Apple can do one or all of these if or when it thinks it makes sense to do so.

We’ll see!

I am 99% certain that Apple has touchscreen Macs and macOS iPads gathering dust in some lab. And neither will see the light of day until Apple sees an opportunity for financial gain.

Why sell a device that combines the advantages of an iPad and a Mac when they can sell you two devices today?

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I get the logic of this statement. I would personally be willing to pay the price of a base model iPad in addition to the price of a laptop for the convenience of an all-in-one form factor. I may be in the minority there. But hey, I already pay an absurd amount for ram and storage for the privilege of owning a Mac, so why not?

I would love this, too, but I think the moment has passed. I imagine Apple’s design questions are focused on a world where both the keyboard and the screen are relics.

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That is exciting to think of. I am too impatient to think about it too much though.

A large tech investor was interviewed on CNBC a couple of days ago and was asked ‘how transformative’ is AI expected to be.

He said if we list technologies on the same scale.

Electricity would be at 100,
AI would be at 90,
the Internet at 50, and the
Smartphone at 30.

Sounds like some people would agree with you.

I don’t see a problem. The convergence is slowly happening year by year. A 13" M1 or M2 iPad Pro has converged quite closely to a Mac in 2023. It’s not a Mac, it’s still an iPad. It still has the option of being used as a tablet via touch and without an attached keyboard. But iPad OS 17 with Stage Manager is far closer to a Mac and earlier this year the release of Final Cut Pro and Logic would add to the evidence that Apple intends to keep pushing iPad forward.

It’s gotten so close at this point that I see no reason why they would undermine years of work and progress with iPadOS and the apps to bring a touch screen to the Mac. And I don’t think they’ll add a Mac emulation mode. They’ll keep iterating iPadOS. They’ll bring some sort of version of Xcode to iPad. They’ll keep improving the hardware.

If not this year then in the not too distant future I do think there will be a larger iPad Pro. I’d expect there to be a 15", 13" and maybe a continuation of the 11" as a Pro or that size may just “drop” to the status of Air. And I’d expect a continued investment in new, more capable versions of iPad specific keyboards.

Still no cellular radio on Macs. Too much potential for unplanned excessive data usage with Mac apps. Apple has never come up with their own version of the TripMode app. And while iOS apps can run on a Mac, no one goes to the Mac App Store to get an app for their iPad.

I’m happy with two separate devices. I use my old iPad (a first gen iPad Air) only to read e-books.

Perhaps that is because Apple wants to use their own modems in a cellular Mac?

It would help (in this theoretical discussion) to actually define the problem.

It’s apparent that the pure portability of an iPad allows it to become a notepad, but what about macOS do you need in this mythical device?

Because, rather than convergence, the theory I have heard which I find more believable — because it’s pretty much already here — is ‘The Star Trek Universe’. That is where anything the crew needed to access could be found on the giant ship’s screen, on portable tablets around the ship, or on small, handheld devices carried outside the ship.

Mac, iPad, iPhone. Job done.

Now, that doesn’t solve your desire not to carry two devices. But… how many people (like me) wait until they can get back to a “fixed base” before doing the heavy lifting that requires a Mac? I’d wager very many, if not most.

Then there’s Apple’s own argument… you can use an iPad for anything. (I know, I know.)

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Well, sure, but hasn’t Apple wanted to do that for years and not been able to? Apple has chafed under Qualcomm’s dominant position in modems for a long time. They have battled in courts and in the research lab for years.

Yes, “They hate Qualcomm’s living guts” says Edward Snyder, a wireless industry expert. But Apple has to use their modems in the iPhone and would lose sales on a lot of iPads if they didn’t offer a cellular option.

But they may prefer to withhold a cellular option on the Mac rather than pay Qualcomm one cent more than necessary.