Two and a half years ago, I wrote an article asking a simple question. If Apple were to create an iPad hybrid in the body of a MacBook, would you buy it? There were patents and speculation at the time that made it reasonable to consider such a question. That, and the iPad Pro was beginning to push the boundaries of what we expect from an Apple tablet.
Things have certainly changed today and such a device doesn’t seem nearly as far away. Over the last two years we have gotten a new iPad Pro design, a new Apple Pencil, iPadOS, USB-C and full touchpad support. We even have a Magic Keyboard with built-in touchpad that can virtually transform an iPad Pro into something very, very close to a laptop. However, I still think the question of an iPadOS device in the shell of a MacBook is relevant, at least enough to speculate over.
Apple’s changes to the iPad and its OS over the last two and half years have naturally cleared up some of the things I speculated about at the time. It’s often fun to look back:
There are plenty of particulars and compromises that would have to worked out for such a device. First off, would Apple stick with USB-C exclusively, or add Lightning for charging? Maybe both? I think that one could go either way.
Next up is the issue of the touchpad. We all know that the MacBooks have some of the best touchpads in the business. Would Apple dare to add support to iOS and the iPad, or would this device stick to touchscreen only and ditch the MacBook’s touchpad? I personally think that a device like this without a touchpad would be more likely.
As for the iPad’s Home Button, that is rumored to be on its way out the door on the iPad Pro anyway, so I highly doubt it would find its way into such a product. If you have used a Bluetooth or Smart Connector keyboard with an iPad Pro, then you already know that the Home Button wouldn’t be necessary with one permanently attached. Between keyboard shortcuts and touchscreen gestures, we would be completely covered without it
USB-C was added and the Home Button subtracted almost two years ago with the 2018 iPad Pro redesign, so all of that’s been dealt with. The touchpad has similarly been addressed just recently. I would say that the table is pretty well set for such a hybrid device as the one I propose.
There is the more recent complication of the Magic Keyboard to consider, though. I’m sure many people would respond that my question is moot because such a device will never exist. Apple answered the question by making a modular accessory that turns the iPad Pro into something close enough. Maybe, maybe not. I guess it depends on your perspective.
There are a few reasons why iPadOS running on MacBook hardware is still intriguing. I addressed one of them in my article two years ago:
Another big positive for power users would be battery life. With more space for a bigger battery combined with the iPad Pro’s efficient processor, you can bet that this hybrid device would be able to outlast current iPad Pros. While my 12.9″ Pro is certainly very capable, when you add a constantly used backlit keyboard drawing power from the Smart Connector, battery life takes a noticeable hit. For someone like me, the extra battery life of a hybrid would bring just a little more independence.
Add in LTE, which is already available on iPads but is unlikely to ever come to the Mac, and you have a very versatile machine that powers up instantly, has great battery life, and is always connected. I understand how unlikely it is that any of this will come to the Mac, and that is a big reason why I want people’s opinion on this iOS hybrid device first.
All of this is very true. I’ve had my own issues with iPad Pro battery life while using a Magic Keyboard. While I feel pretty certain that my first one was defective, I still notice the impact when I use the keyboard’s backlight. An iPadOS device in a slim notebook body can hold a bigger battery and offer superior battery life.
Then there is the matter of weight. Such a device would undoubtedly be lighter than an iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard. That pair is already heavier than a new MacBook Air. An even slimmer MacBook design would likely beat it by a few more ounces. Better battery life and a lighter weight package make a hybrid device an interesting alternative that can potentially push iPadOS forward.
Just like two and a half years ago, I ask again:
So, would you buy an iPad Pro/MacBook hybrid? I would love to know either why or why not. What would you use it for? How much would you be willing to pay for it? Do you think it would sell, or would it just be a niche item for iPad fans like me?
Let me know what you think about the idea of an iPadOS device in the body of a MacBook in the comments below or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.