Why Apple’s next laptop should run iOS

“It’s time for Apple to expand beyond the MacBook and MacBook Pro,” Jason Snell writes for Macworld. “It’s time for the first iOS laptop.”

“When the Smart Keyboard is engaged, at a glance the iPad Pro already looks like a strange laptop,” Snell writes. “The problem with the iPad Pro is that it’s literally not a laptop: You can’t comfortably set it in your lap and get work done.”

“This year I’ve been using my iPad Pro with the Brydge keyboard, a Bluetooth keyboard with two clamps that turn the iPad Pro into something that looks an awful lot like a laptop — albeit one with no trackpad,” Snell writes. “My year spent with this keyboard has convinced me that an iOS laptop would have appeal to a lot of people. ‘

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’d love to see such a product just as soon as Apple proves they are able to get all of their existing products updated regularly, some of which have been languishing for years, and also get delayed products like HomePod out the door. For now, the Brydge keyboard is an excellent solution for those who want a “laptop” that runs iOS.

Remember, to turn the iOS keyboard into a trackpad, just hold two fingers down on the on-screen keyboard for a second. The characters on your keys will disappear as the keyboard turns into a touchpad. Slide your two fingers around to move the resulting cursor.

28 Comments

    1. I use my Macbook often in circumstances where I have to use a 3M privacy screen shield, so that people sitting next to me cannot read the content on my screen.

      Given that there is no mouse or trackpad on an iPad, so that one has to touch the screen to highlight or do almost anything, it is not suitable for me. If a MacBook went the same way, I would have to stop using it.

    2. An iOS-based Mac laptop would be somewhat like a Chromebook, it seems to me. If Apple could keep the price down to around $600, then it might be viable, especially if the capabilities of iOS continue to expand.

      However, my priority for a new Apple product would be a MacOS laptop running on the A11X Bionic processor. Apple should be able to deliver a less expensive product with better performance and the current low-end MacBooks. And, as the A-series processors continue to evolve, they will spread to the MBP and iMacs. Eventually, you might see a high-performance, massively parallel Mac Pro running dozens of A-series cores, but consuming far less power than most workstations.

      1. Well, hopefully they are not crazy enough to do that.

        I just spent 4 months on a contract web production job that required Windows and Joomla. Based upon hours, the job cost them 2-3 times what it would have had I produced it on a Mac using one of several good Mac web apps.

        The point is: Windows, from a practical point of view, cannot economically replace a Mac for certain things. In the context of this job I just completed, I could explain why, but it would take a 20 page document.

        Having said that, there are no apps in iOS that could have done as well as Windows apps could.

        I think that many iOS users dont know what can be done on Mac and to a lesser degree on Windows. They have only seen the crippled iOS apps and I suppose I can’t blame them for that. They have no clue where the apps that they use come from (they are produced on Mac’s in case you really don’t know)

        As one example, touch apps do not have the precision needed for selection of items, nothing beats a mouse and keyboard. I could cite many other items like that.

        Yes you can attach a keyboard and a mouse to an iOS device, but it can’t run apps with the power provided by an actual computer as opposed to a supercharged phone operating system.

        I talk to iOS users every day, I am one, and my conclusion from that is that there is a complete computer world out there that they have no knowledge of. If they haven’t seen anything other than iOS (or Android!) they tend to be TOTALLY unaware of the existence of anything else. So in that sense I don’t blame them, but the fact that they don’t know is their responsibility not mine.

        If you don’t know anything about aircraft, this analogy may not make sense, but here goes: A Citation is a wonderful fast aircraft for moving a few people across the country, but a cargo 747 will move tons of the goods those Citation passengers need to live on every day. Or an over the road truck, or a train.

        1. The point is not to switch all laptops to iOS, just that Apple could make a low end iOS laptop. Certainly they have already prototyped this. Apple could make a low end laptop with their own CPU and graphics for less cost. This could be fine for students and others who don’t require the heavy lifting provided by current MacBooks. Let iOS mature for two years and let Apple silicon mature for two years then this could be a viable, less expensive, solution for some people.

          1. IOS isn’t capable of doing what Windows can, let alone what a Mac can do.

            Simple math: you buy a Mac today, you can run Mac and Windows and linux apps, which covers most pro level apps. Buy an iOS device and you are in file management hell.

            For work efficiency, the processes and programs you use have a substantial impact beyond the limitations of the OS. The saying goes, if you can’t find the program on iOS, look for it on a Mac. If neither has what you seek, you will find it on Windows.

            It’s sad but that is how it is.

          2. Aren’t you just saying that you want Apple to make a Brydge-type keyboard, which is more functional than the current smart cover/keyboard? I don’t see the point of a laptop that runs iOS that can’t be detached from its base. MDN has posted Apple’s patent for a computer whose screen detaches from the base to become a tablet. I think a machine that runs Mac OS when docked and iOS when detached is a compelling idea. If anyone can do it right it’s Apple, but at this point it’d probably be expensive as hell.

    1. Yes. Translation for those who don’t yet know: “iPad Pro” means “Mac Amateur”. That is Apple’s attempt at offering an entry level ios Surface style “laptop” which doesn’t hold the screen for you without a table. That may be fine for consumer grade stuff but the OS will hold you back.

      By the way, how would Apple be able to offer a combo device with both Intel compatibility and an A chip, plus touchscreen, for a lower price than current MacBooks? A kludged Apple Surface would be blown out of the water on price alone. Apple is too stingy to even drop the antique MB Air down to the level it belongs, where kids can afford them.

  1. Who would buy it? NOT I. Such a highly specialized laptop with iOS sort of already exists: buy a 13″ iPad Pro with attachable keyboard and VOILA! you’ve got your dream machine, but without a mouse. Highly productive people who are not delusional need all of the underlying power of XNU/MACH that’s in their general purpose macOS desktops also in their portable laptop computers. Some have found that the new powerful file-based MacBook Pro laptops can even replace their older desktop iMacs in order to get serious work done.

  2. Personally, I think at this point in time Apple should officially licence out macOS 10.13 High Sierra to third-party companies that are going to build the bloody headless Mac that people need and want.

    When Apple updates their hardware to the Coffee Lake processors, I am going to build a Hackintosh that will run macOS 10.13 and Windows 10 Pro. I am tired of the exhorbitant prices for what Apple offers. FFS, Apple is still on a 3 TB HDD for the iMac. How about 10-12 TB HDDs as an option that are on the market right now?

    Apple is on a slow decline whether you want to admit it or not. When many pro and power users leave the platform it will collapse at some point. Apple is basically a boutique consumer company now, and I don’t see that changing with Timmy as CEO.

  3. NO NO NO NO NO!!!!! Please NO….!!!!!!!

    What the eff are people thinking?… iOS is LIMITED compared to OSX (or MacOS).

    What Apple needs to do is make the next MacOS more like Snow Leopard.

  4. As a Mac user, it is impossible to use an iOS device without being constantly aware of all the compromises made by Apple in creating iOS.

    Indeed, I am typing this on my Macbook because it is impossible to type a comment on this article on my iPad – this happens on this site from time to time – in this case the survey about the iPhone X Notch seems to be responsible: you can click in the comment box but the screen immediately moves and the cursor disappears – you can try as many times as you like, but it is impossible…

    And, hey, while the iPad doesn’t have a proper trackpad it is cumbersome to type and edit text.

    iOS is ok for simple tasks – hopeless for anything serious, even Mail, especially if you have a large mailbox.

  5. Just give us a virtual iOS environment as a App for macOS as a way to run any a simulated iPad or iPhone environment… kind of like the Xcode Simulator, but without restrictions.

    In a live music environment I use a number of apps only available for either iOS or macOS, but not made for both. With all the gear I have to drag around, I would love to do it all with my MacBook Pro.

  6. That’s a good point, MDN. As fabulous as Apple is, it still have not shown that it can walk and chew gum at the same time. As soon as Apple proves it can update it’s already existing products on a timely basis, perhaps then we can consider something like an iOS laptop

  7. Reasons for including an AXX chip in addition to the Intel chipset:
    Apple have a fantastic iOS developer ecosystem that could help drive more iPhone users to the Mac.
    Likewise could help devs think more about Mac apps
    Allow users to use the same App regardless of device

    What I don’t want to see is a cheap AXX laptop. Apple never races to the bottom.

  8. Gotta love Jason Snell and his advocacy of iPads. He could just parrot high praise of everything coming out of apple as so many tech reporters do, yet he calls for this new for Apple product. No one is stopping Microsoft from shipping surface pros and they seem to have found a niche as I see them frequently in the wild jungles of the Starbucks lobby.

    Here’s the thing. Apple controls the whole widget. They make the processor and the os. They vet all of the software and there is already a Microsoft product for iPad. Why not ship this iPad eMate and let the market decide. If it is successful, then we’re on our way back to innovation from Apple Computer.

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