Would Apple ever make a convertible MacBook?

“Apple has steadfastly insisted that touchscreens don’t have a place on the Mac,” Jason Snell writes for Macworld. “Some of that comes from ergonomic arguments — as Craig Federighi told Wired, ‘We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do.’ (Of course, this is directly contradicted by the fact that Apple sells its own keyboard for the iPad.)”

“Once a critical mass of Mac apps have been born of iOS, things start to get interesting,” Snell writes. “A Mac with a touchscreen today seems like a weird idea, but would it be weird to touch a screen that’s running an app that was originally designed to work with touch?”

“I’m thinking more of the addition of touch to the existing mouse-and-keyboard paradigm, not its replacement. But there is a class of laptop that Apple hasn’t made, that might be enabled by this scenario: a convertible laptop. These devices are laptops first, but they’re tablets second — you either detach their keyboards or flip the keyboard behind the screen so that you can hold the device like it’s a tablet, but a bit thicker,” Snell writes. “I can add a keyboard to my iPad when I want — and remove it when I don’t need a keyboard. But what if I could travel with a device that would work like a tablet when I wanted it, but bring all sorts of Mac features to the table — not just a cursor and pointing device but support for the Terminal, the ability to natively read SD cards and USB drives, and of course, compatibility with all the apps I run on my iMac Pro today. What then?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ve wanted a “headless MacBook” for awhile now.

Here’s an idea: Apple could sell iPad Pros as they do now, and for those wanting a “Mac,” Apple could sell them the macOS-powered display-less keyboard/trackpad/cpu/RAM/SSD/battery base unit. Attach your iPad for the display and off you go, you Mac-headed truck driver! Plus, you get to use the iPad’s battery, too, extending battery life to provide a truly all-day battery for portable Mac users. Detach the display and you get your iOS-powered iPad back, same as always.

Too outside the box? We’d love to be able to take our 12-inch iPad Pro, mate it with this theoretical Mac base unit, and turn it into a portable Mac. Right now, we carry 12-inch iPad Pros and MacBooks in our backpacks. Guess what’s redundant? Right, the displays. We don’t need to carry two screens on the road. The iPad Pro’s screen would do just fine, thanks.

Buy the Mac base on its own (for those who already have 12.9-inch iPad Pros) or buy it as part of a package (get a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro at a nice discount when you buy it with the Mac base). Imagine if Apple had unveiled this headless MacBook that you use with your iPad at their iPad event last fall. How many more 12-inch iPad Pro sales would such a product have generated? Enough to return iPad to unit sales growth, we bet. And, how many more Macs would have been sold, too?MacDailyNews, January 7, 2017

Illustration from Apple's hybrid Mac-iPad patent application
Illustration from Apple’s hybrid Mac-iPad patent application

16 Comments

    1. If they made a decent Mac mini you could buy the display of your choosing and not worry about Apple’s sizing of iMacs.

      Sitting in front of a nice 32 H-P Pavilion right now. Matte screen with DisplayPort and HDMI.

        1. This monitor is sharper than any stand alone monitor Apple has ever sold, including the LED Cinema they used to sell for a Grand.

          Unless you are using a Barco Coronis I would venture you are using a cheap monitor.

  1. MDN take, yes please! I’m finding my new iPad Pro not quite productive enough to be used exclusively on the road, the multi tasking is a bit lame and the file system still not ideal. Also business apps in iOS safari don’t always scale correctly so I can’t use my work CRM reliably. So a headless MacBook as MDN suggests would be absolutely perfect. I’d buy one tomorrow if I could, this would be so much more superior than lugging around an iPad and a MacBook together. Come on Apple, you’ve had the capability to do this for at least 5 years now, what’s stopping you? If it’s fear of canabalising MacBook sales that’s just backward thinking, a combined product would turbo charge Mac and iPad sales in a heartbeat.

  2. After keyboard products were released for the iPad, Apple had a convertible product with a touchscreen. Admittedly, iOS is not macOS. Even after a decade of iOS evolution. But the potential for a convertible product has existed for the past ten years, and it would not be that difficult to make it a reality.

    iPad Pro (with Apple Pencil) + magnetically attached keyboard with magnetic keyboard = great starting point for an Apple convertible device

  3. My dongle is already a 2-in-1 device. I can use it to uck others, and I can use it to uck myself. It’s ucking great! You only wish you were me.

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