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Home / Features / No, the iPad Pro doesn’t need to run macOS in keyboard mode

No, the iPad Pro doesn’t need to run macOS in keyboard mode

The new iPad Pro doesn’t need a macOS button – it needs a better iPadOS

macOS on iPad Pro

This week, Apple revealed an iPad Pro that was even iPad Proier. It was so shiny it almost managed to distract from Apple crushing a bunch of cultural objects in celebration. But when the dust/pieces of musical instruments settled, iPad Pro fans were split. Some apologised to their bank accounts, placed an order, and started counting the minutes until their thinny thin thin slice of M4/OLED goodness would arrive. Everyone else started bellyaching that Apple should let the iPad Pro run macOS. Or else this time, they were totally, utterly, definitely, finally done with the iPad Pro. Honest.

Much of the reasoning behind the latter sentiment appears to stem from a kind of false equivalence. The new iPad Pro costs roughly the same as a MacBook Air – and heads rapidly towards MacBook Pro territory once you up the spec and add the new, fancy, wallet-thumping Magic Keyboard to your basket. And the iPad Pro’s innards have an awful lot of crossover with the Mac. They have similar amounts of memory and storage. The same silicon. And that M4 could run macOS without breaking sweat.

The tiny snag: the iPad Pro is not a Mac.

Pro Plus

MacBook Pro
This is not an iPad.

Aha”, say the people who reckon that Apple should let you flick a switch and run macOS on the iPad Pro. “You’re not really thinking this through. This is the iPad Pro. Pro is in the name. And I am a Pro. Yet I can’t do all Pro things with my iPad. Nor can I stop writing Pro with a capital letter. Help me. Please. I really can’t stop. Help me.” And so on.

At which point a laundry list of complaints gets spewed across social networks and blogs, like the tech geek output of a particularly heavy Saturday night. The new iPad Pro doesn’t let you write apps. You can’t install any app you want. It’s not terribly customisable. There aren’t utilities for call recording, clipboard management and window management. You can’t create multiple user accounts. There’s not always feature parity with iPad Pro apps that are also on the Mac.

Also, background processes sometimes cease with all the subtlety of a guillotine, which isn’t ideal if you’re almost done exporting a massive video from Final Cut Pro for iPad and have the audacity to use Stage Manager to switch to Mail for half a nanosecond. And that doesn’t happen on the Mac. Hence: the iPad Pro should run macOS.

One Pro to rule them all

When they were done fighting, one of them was reformatted into an iPad. Probably.

Part of me does sympathise. I once wrote that the iPhone 14 I want is the one that makes all my other devices obsolete. And that is still kind of the dream: a single device I always have with me that can instantly optimise itself for different contexts, like the sci-fi offspring of a chameleon and a Transformer. But I’m increasingly keen on devices that do specific things really well. And I’m not sure the iPad Pro running macOS would be such a device.

Any product with such a split personality would lack focus. Inevitably, it wouldn’t be one in which you’d hold out hope of both parts evolving equally significantly and meaningfully. And if neither half of this theoretical Apple flagship tablet didn’t quite do the business, it’d be more iPad Proh-no than iPad Pro.

Which isn’t to say I don’t want change. Many of the shortcomings I mentioned earlier need addressing. But that can be done with realistic, considered changes to policy and software. It doesn’t need Apple to throw in the towel and just give you a big Finder-shaped button that lets you launch macOS on an iPad Pro. Because that would be the very definition of giving up – at which point everyone really would ask: why not just buy a Mac?

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.

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