Watch macOS Catalina running on iPad Pro


macOS Catalina on iPad
Running macOS Catalina on an iPad is doable. Not practical.
Image: Yevgen Yakovliev/Cult of Mac

Those dreaming of Mac and iPad someday merging might get a bit of hope from a new video showing an Apple tablet running macOS Catalina. Or maybe not.

Watch it now:

But there are some very substantial caveats here. The operating system has not been ported to the A12Z processor in the iPad. Instead, the computer is running an app called UTM that uses x86 emulation. In other words, the tablet is just pretending it has an Intel processor so it can run software compiled for Intel chips.

This isn’t really new. Anyone with a bit of technical knowhow can use UTM to run Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (or an earlier version) on an Apple tablet. The only difference is that Yevgen Yakovliev’s YouTube video posted Wednesday is of an iPad running macOS Catalina, which UTM hasn’t supported before.

Also, it’s painfully slow. Booting up takes almost 6 minutes. No one is going to argue that this is a practical way to put macOS on an iPad.

Porting macOS Big Sur to iPad? Someday. Maybe.

Some people want a Mac tablet. Other would like an Apple laptop with a touchscreen. These groups both hope for macOS running on an iPad. It’s not an impossible dream.

macOS 11 Big Sur runs on Apple Silicon. So does iPadOS. One uses M-series processors and the other A-series, but they are similar enough that’s it’s theoretically possible to port Big Sur to iPad.

The process would get even easier if future Apple tablets drop A-series chips in favor of M-series ones, as has been rumored.