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The impact of Apple’s M1 processor on its Mac lineup is immense. Apart from the core benefits of the ARM chip, the Mac and iPad families are being drawn closer together in hardware, software, and functionality. Apple is going to have to face the question of what happens when the two platforms become so close that they appear to be one.
Apple is no doubt aware that Windows 10 is not only running on the desktop, but also used by Microsoft’s tablet based Surface machines, doing its best to unify the two form factors under a single operating system. What can Apple learn from Microsoft’s approach to the user interface and user experience?
Its worth noting that the Surface Pro tablets are still built around the deskbound environment of Windows 10 that has been evolving since the dawn of Windows. The difference between Windows 10 and macOS is that Microsoft has worked hard to integrate touchscreens and pen inputs into Windows 10; Apple has ∂finally not added touch or pen support to macOS beyond the gimmick of the touch bar.
Windows 10’s answer to the tablet conundrum is currently built around ‘tablet mode’, which can be activated manually, or whenever a keyboard is detached from the computer. It reconfigures the interface to be better suited to touch, and resizes windows to work either in full screen or in a split-screen mode for multiple app usage. It is welcome, and make the devices far more flexible and friendly when used as a Windows tablet, but the design ethos is clear. Make Window work on a tablet.
Which it does, but the cost of maintaining ‘Windows’ is in a less intuitive UI for a tablet. When you look at the impact of the iPad on mobile computing over the last decade, Microsoft’s reaction – to step back from the radical Windows 8 touch-based interface to a more traditional Windows UI that sought to…