With Apple announcing both a new Macbook Air and a new iPad Pro on the same day, comparisons between the iconic tablet and Apple's range of computers are now more inevitable than ever.
The new Macbook looks great, but a lot of people piled praise on Apple's decision to announce a Magic Keyboard with a trackpad that works on the iPad Pro. Combined with the beefed-up specs and new mouse support, the iPad Pro is looking more than ever like a very portable tablet/laptop hybrid.
But you may be thinking, why does this matter? Why be hopeful and excited over a new version of the iPad?
To explain why, we have to get a bit technical.
For years there has been talk of the Mac switching from Intel processors to ARM.
Apple has their own in-house processor, the ‘A’ series, which has been in their devices since the iPhone 4, almost ten years ago.
A method called ‘Catalyst’ was introduced at their annual developer conference, WWDC, a couple of years ago. Catalyst allows an iPad app to run on a Mac, with the same code on both apps, ready to be used on both Operating Systems.
But the elephant in the room, back then, was that there was no mouse support.
Plus, the latest iPad-friendly A series chips are on par or exceeding the Intel chips that are in the MacBook line, but for a lower price for consumers.
Now that the trackpad and mouse support is happening, and considering that Apple has announced this before their usual infodump in June, one can’t help wonder if macOS or pro apps may be appearing on the iPad Pro soon.
Apps such as Xcode, which is used on Mac for developing iPad apps, could now cut out the middle man and come to the iPad Pro.
Or a podcast-creation app.
Or a video-editing app such as Final Cut.
There’s a lot of opportunity now for these apps to be easily ported over to the iPad. No one needs to worry about learning the iPad UI just so they can code without using a mouse. That barrier has gone now.
The ideal scenario for developers could be that in June, at WWDC, Apple announces that macOS is coming to ARM processors, and developers will be able to boot into this ‘Preview’ on their iPad Pro, and in turn, start creating apps on their iPad.
As long as they have a trackpad/mouse attached to it.
Code an app, test an app, release an app. All on iPad.
With the trackpad and full-cursor support here, it almost seems like a certainty.
An added benefit as well: when developers code an app on their Mac, they have to start up an ‘emulator’ that simulates an iOS device, so they don't really know of how an app will operate on a ‘real’ device until they compile it, and copy it to their iOS device.
But here, they could simply compile it and run it on the device it's being made for. A real-world test of the app, as it’s already being coded and tested on the iPad. The hardware could also slow down in a sense or limit an amount of RAM to better match an iPhone's specifications.
It’s win-win for the developer.
There are also games that come into this mix. Strategy games or first-person shooters could explode on iPad now. The devices can easily run games as recent as 2016, so if you mix in the Magic Keyboard with Max Payne,BioShock, or Call Of Duty: Warzone, it could be a killer combination. Even playing the classic DOOM on an iPad, which is totally possible right now, feels like a step in the right direction.
With Apple’s ‘Apple Arcade’ still going strong, this gaming subscription service could easily bring out a collection of games, tailored to the mouse. And as it’s still £5 a month, it’s almost a no-brainer.
All of this, it feels like a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.
There’s nothing stopping a future iOS update from allowing all of this occurring, it’s now opened up the floodgates of more creation on the iPad, and games as well.
The notion that you can’t do work on an iPad has ended.
But let's not forget, the iPad is a symbiotic device. It can adapt to a lot of scenarios, so using the Apple Pencil without the Magic Keyboard for an artist, would be ideal for them. The question is if apps such as Photoshop now ‘level up’ to take advantage of the AR camera and keyboard shortcuts on iPad Pro. So you could be designing something on your Mac, and carry on with the same project, but on iPad.
The question now is what iPadOS 14 can bring in software improvements.
Could we see more than two apps in split-view? The introduction of iOS Themes? Better widgets? Better Support for Apple Watch? Could they use the Stealth Optional logo as the mouse cursor?
It’s all up in the air, but with two months before the WWDC event, there’s a lot that developers can offer to consumers with the cursor, and there’s a lot of potential for how macOS could now work on the iPad.
It’s a good time to be an iPad user.