There’s a rumor going around Apple could work on bigger iPads that could continue to blur the line between its tablets and MacBooks. Yes, bigger iPads are reportedly being considered, perhaps up to 16 inches, which would be the equivalent of its largest MacBook Pro.
It seems strange to a company that has shrunk its bones that Apple would want to oversize the iPad. But as we have seen with smartphones and the iPhone 12 mini‘s Reportedly less than outstanding sales, people seem to think that bigger is better in the tech arena.
While the latest 12.9 inch iPad Pro 2021 is excellent while it is arguably closer to MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1 I am less convinced than ever that bigger iPads will bridge the gap between slate and laptop.
It’s the software, not the hardware
Tom’s Guide has the latest iPad pros and other iPad Air 2020, both that dock with the Magic keyboard for a pseudo laptop experience. And for years, iPad hardware has been superb, easily keeping Android rivals at bay; I can only think of one person who regularly uses an Android tablet.
iPadOS is also a wonderful tablet operating system. Pretty much any app runs fine (Android tablets still have problems here), and it feels smooth, even on a 60Hz refresh rate display. But while I like my iPad mini for small productivity tasks like hacking notes or tapping an opinion piece while lounging on a sofa, iOS is not an operating system for work.
As Tom’s Guide’s Mark Spoonauer found out, there is at least one 5 reasons why the 2020 iPad Pro won’t replace its laptop, and the top one relates to the software. Despite the improvements made to iPadOS, it still offers an equally robust user experience that doesn’t exactly match what you get on macOS. Yes, there is a Files app, but it cannot be compared to the Finder.
I wouldn’t expect iPadOS to be functionally identical to macOS, although I would love it if the iPad Pro went with his Apple M1 chip would dual boot macOS and iPadOS. But iPadOS ‘sandboxing limitations and lack of a real window surface prevent it from being a real workhorse platform – at least for me.
Apple can make future iPads the size of one of ours best tv but that still doesn’t make them a MacBook replacement if they don’t have the software to do the job.
Larger iPads create a tricky balancing act
When combined with the Magic Keyboard, the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro is heavier than the MacBook Air. And that weight is more top-heavy than the MacBook, which has most of its weight on the bottom of the laptop.
I can’t see how the problem of making future iPads much larger can be solved unless the Magic Keyboard is made heavier to prevent the iPad from tipping over when used in a laptop shape. Bigger may be better, it is rarely more difficult. So I’m not sure how, despite their engineering skills, Apple will create, for example, a 16-inch iPad that can still be used as a slim, portable laptop-like device.
But which design should Apple adopt? With the Microsoft Surface Book approach, Apple could put a more powerful processor, graphics accelerator, and larger battery in a new Magic Keyboard Pro to offset the weight of a large tablet display. But I don’t think this would be a very Apple thing, a bigger iPad with a bigger display is one thing, but a giant laptop-tablet hybrid is another.
And I would also ask what is that supposed to be? iPads may have moved closer to MacBooks, but they’re still pretty much separate machines. Apple has been pretty adamant about keeping the iPadOS and macOS ecosystem separate. So making a bigger, MacBook-like iPad would seem pretty weird.
What kind of touchscreen MacBooks could Apple make?
While Apple doesn’t seem to want this, I think it would be better to put a touchscreen in the MacBook Air or Pro – or even a 2-in-1 MacBook with a 360-degree hinge so it could fit into one Transform form of tablet. Add in Apple Pencil support and you have a device that could have the power and flexibility to appeal to more digital artists and other creative professionals. The kind who still haven’t gotten to grips with the iPadOS differences.
This touchscreen MacBook of my dreams now makes even more sense with Apple Silicon-based Macs supporting iOS apps. But Apple has made no sign that such a device is in the works, although it appears to be a logical move.
Of course, the whole concept of bigger iPads can’t come to fruition. The source of the rumors is a pretty reliable tipster Bloombergs Mark Gurman for pointing out that large iPads may not be featured. Rather, I hope it doesn’t and that Apple uses its research and development power to come up with something new; maybe it could speed up work on that Apple car or do the long rumored Apple glasses a reality.