Tim Bajarin: Why Apple will never merge iOS and macOS

“When Apple introduced its new MacBook Pro lineup in October, the company made it clear that these machines are meant for so-called ‘creatives,’ or people working in design, advertising, music, and so on,” Tim Bajarin writes for TIME Magazine. “The standout feature is a new interface called the Touch Bar, a touchscreen panel that sits above the keyboard and changes functions based on what software is running at a given moment.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs “believed that PCs are like trucks designed for specific uses, but the iPad and tablets in general are more like everyday cars — and that’s where the growth will be,” Bajarin writes. “Although I believe Apple will always make Macs, which represent about 12% of its quarterly revenue, it’s the iPad that’s more vital for Apple’s vision of computing’s future. Current Apple CEO Tim Cook was a disciple of Jobs, learning a great deal from him. We’re now seeing Cook use Jobs’ playbook more aggressively as he encourages many users to move from Macs to the iPad lineup and its mobile operating system, iOS.”

“For some time, many people thought Apple might merge macOS and iOS. But it seems clear to me that this will not be the case,” Bajarin writes. “Instead, I believe macOS will be pushed to those who need the Mac as a “truck” while iOS will evolve to become Apple’s mainstream computing software in the form of iPads.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last December:

Imagine an “iOS Pro” mode.

Turn on iOS Pro on your iPad Pro
1. Tap Settings > General, and make sure iOS Pro is turned on.
2. There is no step two.

Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

Shouldn’t such a thing already exist? Where would iPad sales be if it did?

Also, as we wrote in March:

When on the road, we want the ultimate in portability (hence why we’re still carrying 11-inch MBAs until the next-gen 12-inch MacBook arrives) — but we want the 4GB RAM packed into the bigger iPad Pro vs. the reported 2GB in the smaller iPad Pro. Screen redraws due to a lack of RAM have been the stumbling block for us really using iPad in the field since its inception. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro finally has enough RAM.

And, as we wrote in February:

Here’s the thing: The iPad saturated its addressable market so quickly and the iPads are so well made and last so damn long that unless Apple provides a really compelling reason to upgrade, most people are just not upgrading yet. We handed off our original iPads to relatives a couple years ago and they’re still being used! Yes, they lack sensors to support many modern iPad games, but they are still in use. We also have immediate family members still using perfectly working iPad 2, iPad 3, and older iPad Air and mini models. The obsolescence cycle for iPad rivals that of the Mac. It’s very long.

The iPad is not a niche product. It had unprecedented uptake and the devices have such long, useful lives that the replacement cycle still hasn’t really kicked in. When it does — and when the macroeconomy improves to the point where users can consider adding the joys of iPad to their computing lives — then we’ll see iPad unit sales growth again. In the meantime, Apple should redouble their efforts at improving iPad – adding Apple Pencil, Smart Connector, and multi-user support (to mention just three things) — that will make the iPad even more appealing to buyers.


    1. There’s no substitute for screen real estate. We need lots of power and large screens to be more productive.

      Tim gets it wrong in this article. Anyone who thinks iOS is a substitute for OS X is delusional. iOS is a simple, low power OS that expresses Apps in Card Views. It has hampered multi-tasking and is thus extremely poor at productivity.

      -Small screen.
      -Low power.
      -Lack of precise input (e.g., no mouse input). Apple Pencil is a step in the right direction though.

      1. The future (in 3-6 years) is wall sized screens. I actually use a 98″ 4K screen from LG (Don’t ask what it cost.)

        It is mounted on a stand against a wall and I have a tiny rollable desk with a tilted area for wireless keyboard and trackpad, and a flat area for notepad and drink.

        This is the future of intense/challenging desktop computing. As prices of 4K and OLED screens drop, I suspect many people with go this route. It is 10x better than having multiple screens.

        1. In addition to being great for one person work, it makes it incredibly easy to work together with one or two other colleagues.

          In my view, traditional desktop is going to split into very large screens and no-screen/VR and remain relevant in those contexts where stationary computing delivers much greater performance. This is where Apple should go for Pro Macs in the future.

          Wall sized facetime is awesome. I call it “Roomtime” since its great for conferencing with lots of people at both ends.

      2. I think you didn’t read the article. Tim says iOS and OS X will never merge because they are for different purposes. iOS is for the majority of users while OS X is for those who need trucks. So those who need large screens, full power or very precise input devises will use OS X.

      3. “It has hampered multi-tasking and is thus extremely poor at productivity.” I totally agree. iOS may be capable of completing 99% of tasks for 99% of users, but it’s almost always less precise and efficient. Writing and editing a word document is a clunky mess on an iPad, even with an external keyboard.It’s cheaper than a laptop so Apple can move many more units of what is essentially its netbook, but it’s hard to imagine iOS becoming as good or even better than Mac OS at anything, short of having an excellent keyboard/trackpad and an evolution of iOS to make it more like Mac OS.

  1. There will always be a very good reason not to ever merge the two:

    Because small mobile touch devices are by definition low-power, battery efficient computers that use imprecise input and do light weight tasks —- not heavy computation.

    Macs do not and should not ever be compromised to the lesser capabilities all the derivative Apple Balkanized OSes impose onto the user.

    The fact that Cook has accelerated iOS development and floundered around with TVos and other duds while doing nothing to improve the Mac performance relative to the competition doesn’t show that iOS is in any way more capable for serious processing, it shows what a poor value Cook now offers his pro customers.

  2. Apple give us two apps of Pages and Numbers so that we can open two documents in the same app in split screen.
    The iPad will never be a strong computer until you can open two or more documents in the same Application.

  3. I think they are merging right now under our eyes . Why do you think they are calling it macOS now . They will revil it to the public when it is 100% done . That’s why , OS X has been going a bit downhill since snow leopard 10.6 . Every year they are bringing all new components that are now strong enough under iOS to replace old parts in OS X. QuickTime API , Metal , Security, Siri among others . The next step is the new file system . One day they will be : Tadam ! This new version on MacOS is iOS with a different interface . The transition as started years ago. That’s why OS X what so fleaky for years !

  4. Combining hardware and os is a terrible concept. Look at Microsoft Surface and how it turns out

    Combining data source however is the true pioneer of data technology. Look at iCloud and how it turns out. Only the flaw is limited cloud storage.

  5. In Apple’s ivory tower view of reality, they might not want to merge them. But sometimes the competition forces you to do what some purists didn’t want to do. Microsoft is running one OS for tablets and laptops and I’ll betcha a lot of people are finding that useful.

  6. With all due redpect MDN..

    Dont claim ideas coming from other members who post here (and many other forums including feedback to apple) as yours ideas..!

    Its not right and it not responsible and it low!
    Its opportunistic …..

  7. I do not agree with the article. If we look at the iPad Pro now and compare it to laptops from a few years ago, we should see that the iPad is just as fast. Check out Geekbench for the numbers. I belive we will see an iPad Pro/iPhone which, in a few years time which will have the same processing powere as current laptops. This iPad or iPhone will drive an external monitor for when we want a large screen to work from. This could explain why we have not seen an major (Mac) hardware updates. Apple will have us using our iPhones/iPad as we use our computers now.

    Think of the benifets. Wherever you go you will have access to all our files (in the cloud), programs or Apps. I may be wrone but Apple is not spending money on developing hardware outside of the iOS family.

    Mac Pro
    Airport – Routers
    Displays – This one confuses me.
    Macbook Air

    And a halfbacked update to the MacBook Pro.

    I could be wrong, but I do not think I am.


  8. Why can’t anyone say what they actually mean? The core operating system functions in iOS and OS X are one and the same. It’s the UI that is different as well as the hardware abstraction layer to talk to Intel versus A series processors.

    As Seb B above pointed out, components developed on one platform are moving to the other. So we are seeing continued alignment/convergence. Initially the movement was from OS X to iOS but now it’s the reverse. If only Apple could create a real database driven filing system for both platforms…

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