Unpopular Opinion: Apple Should Kill the Mac in the Next Five Years
Apple has been heading in a confusing direction lately when it comes to the iPad and the Mac. If Apple does indeed stick to innovating on the iPad as a productivity machine, where will the Mac belong in our lives after a couple of years? I’m not sure that Apple will continue to make the iPad a better computer. iOS 9 was the first step in the right direction but they didn’t follow suit with iOS 10. Apple may or may not be on a tick tock schedule with the iPad, but one thing is for sure, the iPad deserves to put a nail in the Mac’s coffin.
I was so excited the day that Steve introduced the first iPad in 2010. I saw it as the future of computing. Instead of lugging around foldable, heavy, and mouse based notebooks we’d carry around ultra light, ultra thin, super powerful, multitouch based tablets. When I bought the first iPad I felt it immediately. I wanted this thing to be my main computer. I wanted to discard my Apple notebook and use the iPad full time. Of course, in 2010 the iPad was not much more than a larger iPod Touch. It couldn’t print, it couldn’t run truly desktop class apps, and it couldn’t replace your laptop. But that didn’t take away any of the magic. The first major update to the iPad introduced AirPrint, multitasking, folders, and more in iOS 4.2. This was the first step towards making the iPad a computer replacement. iOS 5 allowed the iPad to be set free from a Mac, no longer requiring that you connect to iTunes to set up the device. It also introduced iCloud to further disconnect you from desktop tethers. After iOS 5 though, the iPad didn’t get much love. Even the first beta of iOS 7 didn’t run on the iPad. With iOS 9 Apple appeared to be getting serious about computing on the iPad when they introduced picture in picture, split view, slide over, and stronger keyboard support. iOS 11 has been the biggest update yet to the iPad, fundamentally changing the way it works. iOS 11 highlights the possible future the product has as Apple’s default computing platform.
Today many fellow bloggers have published articles and videos about the tenth anniversary of the MacBook Air’s introduction. But I’d prefer to spend the tenth anniversary of the MacBook Air envisioning the next ten years. I don’t necessarily think Apple is heading in this direction. But I certainly hope that they do. My unpopular opinion is to kill the Mac and power up the iPad. What Apple should do should be done in phases. Not all at once. Each year for the next few years Apple should continue adding important features to the iPad to make it on par with he Mac in terms of power and usability. The iPad now has a file system, more power than some Macs, a pro motion Retina display, and app interoperability. If Apple works with developers to bring more desktop class applications like Adobe Illustrator, Indesign, and Photoshop iPad would be more capable of being a Mac replacement than ever before. Another major addition that the iPad needs is the ability to run more than two apps at once. There is a slight work around on current generation iPad Pros that allows you to put one app in slide over on top of a split view of two apps. You can even put a picture in picture video on top of the three apps. So the iPad has proved that it can run four apps at least at the same time without even remotely choking. What Apple should do is create a window system akin to panel kit in apps like Pixure. When a user wants to run more than two apps at once, a desktop like view appears turning the two current apps into windows. All you’d have to do is drag an app out of the dock and all of a sudden you’ve got a Mac style window management system. I see these apps still in groups that are siloed. They stick together much like apps do currently when you visit the multitasking view. Apple needs to also bring over external mouse and trackpad support to help out older users who prefer legacy inputs. Lastly, Apple needs to work with accessory manufactures to create a diverse ecosystem of accessories, cables, and input devices that rival the Mac’s.
In terms of hardware, Apple should bundle a Smart Keyboard cover with the iPad to complete the package. The ideal Smart Keyboard cover would also have a trackpad built into it. I’d also think that Apple should bump up the storage capacities in the iPad Pro models to be 128, 256, and 512 gigabytes in order to satisfy more power users. This also leads me to the need for there to be a 15” iPad Pro. Not only would a large canvas be amazing on a multitouch device like the iPad, it would be a necessary product if the iPad were to replace the Mac completely. Lots of professionals prefer the 15” MacBook Pro so a 15” iPad Pro would have to exist.
Some of you are probably wondering what I think Apple should do with the Mac after they’ve stopped producing macOS. There are two options that I see in this situation. The first is that Apple updates all recent Macs at the time to the new, more powerful version of iOS leaving support for legacy Mac apps inside the version that runs on Macs. Apple could continue to update these Macs until they believe they can no longer support the software or they can offer this as the final software update for the Mac. The other option is for Apple to continue supporting macOS in terms of bugs and vulnerabilities without adding new features. In the second case, Apple would need to stop selling Macs much sooner to prevent customer uproar. I think the first plan is much stronger and could even fit with Apple’s future product plans. Mark Gurman reported that Apple is working on a universal app system binary to allow apps to run on iOS and macOS. If that’s indeed true than Apple may be heading in the right direction. They may be approaching a future where iPad productivity is king just in a slightly different way. If Mac apps can run on iOS, then that means the iPad may get more powerful much faster without them having to kill the Mac. However, the longer that Apple continues to sell and support the Mac, the longer it is going to take to get people more used to working on iPads.
Long story short, the reason I want this to happen is that I firmly believe the iPad is a better product than the Mac. It’s more flexible, more comfortable to use, and more fun. People like Federico Viticci of MacStories have proven that the iPad can be your main computer even now. But I want to see a future where the iPad is Apple’s main computer too.