It’s been nearly five years since I wrote an impassioned story about how Macs and iPads need to merge. I’ve been thinking thoughts like that since…well, since the iPad emerged in 2010. It’s 2021 now, and iPads and Macs are still two totally distinct Apple product lines. But the merge is well underway. It’s just a series of very slow steps.
I’ve always thought of the iPad as the more likely path to the computer I’d prefer in an ideal future universe. But I’ve been using Apple’s most recent M1 MacBook Air and it’s changed my mind. The laptop, while unexciting in design, is utterly smooth and instant in function. It feels very near perfect. And even the entry-level, 8GB of RAM model I’ve tried seems like more than enough to handle just about anything I’d need.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the MacBook Air: they’re becoming more alike than you think.
The M1 Macs, using Apple’s own chips, point to a future where the line between Macs and iPads gets very fuzzy indeed. It’s likely that Apple will announce new versions of its iPad Pro sometime this spring, a year after the relatively minor changes in the 2020 version. What would I expect? What would I want? In a post-MacBook-M1 world, I’ve started thinking about the iPad very differently.
As we head towards a new iPad, here’s how the MacBook M1 has already shifted my perspective. To distort a famous quote attributed to William Gibson, I see the same regarding Apple’s future computers.
What is an iPad now that the Mac is also instant?
I use the MacBook more now, first of all. It’s quick to start, doesn’t slog down or blast any fans and its battery life wins over anything. The iPads had this advantage over Macs before, but now I start thinking… What else could an iPad do for me?
The MacBook is easier for Zoom meetings. I can prop it up without a case and the camera’s in the right orientation. Also, I can run anything…