Apple Gives the iPad Hardware Brawn. Now It Needs to Give It Mac Software

Hi, Mark here. Apple Inc. just wrapped up it first product event of the year and the star of the show was the new iPad Pro, a piece of hardware that is so powerful it’s arguably better than some Mac computers. But the iPad’s software is holding it back.

It’s time for Apple to pull off the Band Aid and merge the iPad and Mac—at least their operating systems.

The company seems to have done everything it can to delay the inevitable. Over the past few years, it has danced around the idea of combining the Mac and iPad software ecosystems—to a confusing degree.

Last year, Apple made macOS look like the software that runs on the iPad with an update called Big Sur. It has added some Mac software features to the iPad with recent versions of iPadOS. And the company even transitioned some of its core Mac apps to use the same underlying technologies as iPad apps, and it now lets users run iPad apps on their laptops and desktops. Last year, the Magic Keyboard arrived, giving the iPad full keyboard and trackpad support in a device that makes the tablet much more like a MacBook laptop. And at this week’s event, it gave the iPad Pro the same homegrown chip as the latest Macs. 

But the two devices still run different operating systems and have distinct software ecosystems. For years, Apple has said it won’t combine the two platforms as doing so would dilute the best parts of each. A more cynical perspective (and one certainly discussed at the highest levels of Apple) is that combining the products would dilute sales rather than functionality. The concern here is that consumers might just buy a single iPad or Mac, instead of both.  

We’ve now reached the point though that not combining the platforms could do more harm than good. Managing two distinct operating systems and software ecosystems for devices with increasingly similar hardware underpinnings is far more work than necessary for Apple, developers and consumers. 

By giving the iPad Pro its M1 chip, Apple is supercharging the device’s performance and showing it can handle everything the Mac can. With unique hardware like touchscreens, sensors and advanced cameras, the iPad…