This weekend I shopped around for a keyboard to match my iPad Pro. For now I carry a rather inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard which works OK, but what I long for is the obvious. A very thin, very light, very capable keyboard that is married to the iPad Pro’s form factor.
iPad Pro itself weighs about 1.5-pounds. The entry-level MacBook weighs a whisper over 2-pounds so that’s the objective. Thin, slim, light– with a keyboard– and about 2-pounds.
What about Apple’s Smart Keyboard? The keys are good for notes but not extended typing. The iPad angle is fixed. The whole shebang outweighs a Mac notebook. Considered the best of the best third party keyboards, Logitech’s Slim Combo is feature packed, expensive, bulky, and combined with an iPad Pro weighs about the same as a MacBook Pro.
Maybe we need to start over with a Mac tablet. Sure, iOS apps are good and there are nearly one million to choose from these days, but what I want is the convenience and intimacy of an iPad with the power of a Mac but with detachable screen and keyboard.
No such animal exists. Yet.
Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée:
While the tablet/PC hybrid has always been an irresistible notion, implementations have fallen short of the Platonic ideal.
In other words, the new generation of Windows 10-based notebook-tablet hybrids are a compromise. They are not good Windows notebooks and as a tablet do not compare well to an iPad Pro.
The technology to marry iOS and macOS into a single thin and light device is there but at what price? What would an Apple Mac-like tablet look like? Ideally, in tablet mode it would be iOS, but in keyboard mode it would be an option– iOS with a keyboard, or macOS with a keyboard.
Apple could do this with its own A-series ARM-based CPUs. The Mac portion would reside in the keyboard which uses the iPad as a display. Detached, the device would become a full on iPad Pro, sans the Mac.
The advantages might be clear but implementation and price must be considered. Think of a tabletized Mac as a Mac in a keyboard. Thin and light and without Intel Inside. That could still bring about 10 hours or more of battery life even with macOS. We see similar designs with the new generation of touchscreen ARM-based notebook-tablets running Windows 10.
The problem with that arrangement there should be obvious. Such devices are anemic Windows notebooks– but with great battery life– and anemic tablets.
A solution from Apple would marry technological partners. An ARM-based, Apple designed A-Series CPU and macOS housed within the keyboard which also attaches to the iPad Pro. That’s the best of both worlds.
Steve Jobs in 2010:
It’s like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it. In multitasking, if you see a task manager… they blew it. Users shouldn’t ever have to think about it.
Would you not appreciate the value of a device that is both a Mac notebook that runs Mac applications and an iPad that runs iOS applications? Yes. And while we’re at it, throw in cellular data capability, too.
I can dream, right?
Tim Cook in 2012:
You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator but you know, those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.
That’s a false equivalency. A Mac is a computer. An iPad is a computer. A single device would be the best of two very wonderful worlds.