Apple Doubles Down on Keeping Mac and iPad Separate, Despite M1

iPad Pro attached to keyboard
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPad Pro now uses M1, Apple's homegrown processor that is also in the 21-inch iMac, 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini. That's a lot of power, but don't expect the iPad to merge with the Mac line anytime soon.

In an interview with The Independent, Apple hardware lead John Ternus and marketing chief Greg ‘Joz’ Joswiak were steadfast that the two platforms are separate.

"There’s two conflicting stories people like to tell about the iPad and Mac," Joswiak told The Independent.  "On the one hand, people say that they are in conflict with each other. That somebody has to decide whether they want a Mac, or they want an iPad. Or people say that we’re merging them into one: that there’s really this grand conspiracy we have, to eliminate the two categories and make them one. And the reality is neither is true. We’re quite proud of the fact that we work really, really hard to create the best products in their respective category."

Indeed, the iPad Pro is far and away better than any other Android tablet. Between the M1 and, if you splurge on a keyboard cover, the iPad Pro can easily handle many workflows with aplomb.

“We don’t think about well, we’re going to limit what this device can do because we don’t want to step on the toes of this [other] one or anything like that,” Ternus said. “We’re pushing to make the best Mac we can make; we’re pushing to make the best iPad we can make. And people choose." He pointed out that some people have both, and that their workflow spans both devices.

But it also highlights what some consider the Mac's biggest weakness: its lack of a touchscreen. Apple has long suggested that the Mac and macOS weren't designed for touch, while critics have bragged about the flexibility some Windows PCs have gained from touch screen options. The iPad, however, is getting its most advanced touchscreen ever, with mini-LED technology with extreme dynamic range borrowed from the desktop Pro Display XDR.

The Mac, as of macOS Big Sur, can run some iOS and iPad OS apps. This doesn't yet go the opposite way, and Apple can't show the same pro apps running on both the iPad and the iMac in stage demos.

Yesterday, The Verge's Monica Chin wrote an op-ed entitled "Put macOS on the iPad, you cowards," suggesting perhaps the ultimate convergence. If you're not going to put touch on the Mac, let users run their Mac apps on the iPad. After all, they share the same processor.

But with rumors of iPadOS 15 getting a significant change, perhaps one differing it more from iOS on the iPhone, it doesn't seem like the Mac and the iPad will become one anytime soon. Or perhaps ever.

"[W]e’re just going to keep making them [the iMac and iPad Pro] better. And we’re not going to get all caught up in, you know, theories around merging or anything like that," Ternus said.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon

  • Heat_Fan89
    They might say that and it's true for now but eventually I can envision the entire product line being unified. I saw this coming together awhile back when they introduced Handoff. It reconfirmed my belief once MacOS Big Sur was made to look like iPadOS. It's not a bad idea if they unify the entire line because you'll feel right at home whether you are on an iPad, iPhone or a Mac.

    If they do merge, eventually I can see them treating the Mac's OS upgrades much like they do with their iDevices which means you can upgrade and rollback as long as Apple is signing the OS version prior to the cutoff date. For many it's no big deal for others it could be a big deal.
  • hotaru.hino
    If anything at this point, the two ecosystems share the same OS, the same apps, the only difference is the UI/UX. And as much as you want to try to merge a tablet UI/UX with a desktop one.. well ask Microsoft how that's going. They've been at it for nearly 10 years.
  • mrv_co
    Just as Apple claimed originally that IOS was a derivative of OS X (now MacOS), conventional wisdom has been for quite some time that the two will consolidate at some point (much to the chagrin of MacOS fans, since it's been difficult to see this being anything but a regression from a proper desktop OS). Regardless, if there was MacOS support for the new (or future) iPad Pros, I would be far more interested in the 11 and 12 inch iPad Pros. Otherwise, I'll take an iPad Pro Mini w/ IOS.
  • spiketheaardvark
    Sure Apple could move MacOS to the iPad. But they'll never give up on the app store lockin and the big pile of cash that comes with it. If they thought they could get away with it on MacOS they would.
  • zodiacfml
    the just dont care as the interview shows. internally, they are now the same except the UI. i get touch but for content consumption