Tim Cook won’t compromise Mac and iPad by combining them

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Clamshell iPad
This concept for a combined Mac and iPad will stay just that: a concept.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Tim Cook generally stays quiet about Apple’s plans, but there’s one thing he’s open about: his company’s laptops and tablets aren’t going to merge together.

It’s a question that comes up every couple of years. Which is understandable, given the recent rumors that macOS is migrating to the same type of processors as iOS, allegedly to enable apps to run on both Mac and iPad.

But Apple’s CEO recently stated clearly that merging the Mac and iPad lines would be bad for both. He told a reporter from The Sydney Morning Herald, “We don’t believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two … you begin to make trade offs and compromises.”

This is essentially a repeat of what Apple executives have said before. Phil Schiller, head of marketing, said in 2016, “We did spend a great deal of time looking at this a number of years ago and came to the conclusion that to make the best personal computer, you can’t try to turn macOS into an iPhone. Conversely, you can’t turn iOS into a Mac…. So each one is best at what they’re meant to be — and we take what makes sense to add from each, but without fundamentally changing them so they’re compromised.”

But what about Kalamata and Marzipan?

MacBooks and iMacs run on Intel processors, but Apple is supposedly migrating macOS to ARM-based chips it will produce itself.  This would be a huge project, and require third-party developers to modify their applications for the new processor architecture. 

This switch, reportedly code-named Kalamata, would have Macs, iPhones, and iPads all running on the same processor architecture.

A separate rumor indicates that Apple is then going to take the next logical step and allow developers to write applications that would run on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone.

Presumably, the goal is more macOS software. The iOS App Store is booming, while the Mac version is most definitely not. iMac and macBook users would be able to take advantage of software written for iPhone and iPad.

This project’s code-name is Marzipan, and it will allegedly be announced at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.

Fundamental Differences

Even if the rumors are correct and someday a single application could run on a Mac and iPad, this doesn’t mean that Apple intends to merge iOS and macOS. The two operating systems are designed for separate types of devices, and combing them would, as Tim Cook and Phil Schiller pointed out, require compromises. Compromises the company isn’t wiling to make.

Unless something changes, Apple isn’t going to make a MacBook with a touchscreen, much less a tablet that runs macOS. That hasn’t stopped it from exploring touchscreen alternatives though, including a hybrid keyboard/trackpad.

Apple wants people to do what Tim Cook does: pick the device that’s right for them at any given time. “I generally use a Mac at work, and I use an iPad at home. And I always use the iPad when I’m traveling.”