After Apple unveiled the M1 iPad Pro last month, speculation about the future of iPad software went rampant. Some people speculated that the solution to the iPad’s current software limitations could be support for running macOS, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Here’s why.

This controversy started after the “crack product marketing team” at Apple, as Craig Federighi kindly calls his coworkers, decided that the next chip inside the iPad Pro would be called “the M1” and not A14X, as 9to5Mac found references.

And can you blame them? The M1 chip has been a resounding success. All reviewers praised the first Apple Silicon Mac chip, so why wouldn’t the company use the same processor in its most powerful iPad?

What people sometimes forget is that the M1 chip is in fact a variation of the A-series processor. When Apple first announced it was working on its own Silicon, the SDK Mac mini sent to developers had the A12Z bionic chip, which powered the 2020 iPad Pro. It doesn’t take much to connect that the M chip is a variant of the iPhone processors and not a totally different thing.

But, again, can I blame customers for wanting macOS on an M1 iPad Pro? Not exactly, but I think people are missing the point.

The best part of the iPad is that it’s not a hybrid notebook

I don’t know about you, but I never been a fan of PCs with touch-screen enabled. They don’t work properly and when you turn them into a tablet, the experience gets worse. The ergonomics just aren’t functional, and the software experience is often lackluster.

With an iPad, and especially with the M1 iPad Pro, it’s the chance that Apple has to bring innovative tools to a category that created a new ecosystem. When this tablet was announced in April, executives were ready to address the subject of merging the iPad and the Mac. Here’s what Apple executive Greg Joswiak said:

“There’s two conflicting stories people like to tell about the iPad and Mac,” says Joz, as he starts on a clarification that will lead him at one point to apologise for his passion. “On the one hand, people say that they are in conflict with each other. That somebody has to decide whether they want a Mac, or they want an iPad.

“Or people say that we’re merging them into one: that there’s really this grand conspiracy we have, to eliminate the two categories and make them one.

“And the reality is neither is true. We’re quite proud of the fact that we work really, really hard to create the best products in their respective category.”

So what Apple should do about the iPad?

iPadOS 15 will unleash the M1 iPad Pro full potential

If this subtitle rings you a bell, it’s because I wrote in March, almost one month before the M1 iPad Pro announcement, that this product would need iPadOS 15 to unleash its full potential. And it remains true.

There’s a maxim that says “don’t buy a product for what it can be,” but the iPad Pro has been a promise for half a decade. With iPadOS in 2019 and the Magic Keyboard in 2020, Apple has come closer to what this product can achieve.

It’s powerful, we all know that. The M1 iPad Pro even beats my 16-inch MacBook Pro from 2019 that has 16GB of RAM and an Intel Core i9 processor. It’s pretty, it has a stunning mini-LED display that customers can’t wait to put their eyes on. So what’s missing? Another cycle of iPadOS update.

The M1 iPad Pro, more than any other iPad, needs three things:

  • Apple supporting Pro apps: the company needs to launch Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro to the iPad. If Apple doesn’t bring its most powerful apps to the iPadOS ecosystem, why should any other developer do the same?
  • Xcode support: It’s 2021 and developers still can’t code with this massive 12.9-inch screen and with the great keyboard that is the Magic Keyboard. They still have to emulate the iPad on a Mac. Why?
  • Focus on multitasking: With up to 16GB of RAM, the M1 iPad Pro can easily deal with multitasking. With a 12.9-inch display, Apple needs to give its users more possibilities to split the screen, combo apps and widgets, bring App Library, and support to more external displays.

One of the things the iPad needed and Apple brought with the fifth-generation iPad Pro was the Center Stage function. Adding an Ultra-Wide camera in the front of the device, and using A.I., and the TrueDepth system, Apple is finally able to put the user in the center of a video call. It’s a small thing but makes a huge difference. And the best part is that other developers can take advantage of this API.

Wrap up

We are almost three weeks away from WWDC 2021. With the M1 iPad Pro already arriving for some lucky customers now, it won’t take long for us to see what Apple has planned for iPadOS 15 as well. Hopefully, this will be the year that we’ll be able to call the iPad a really “Pro” device and let macOS for the Macs only.

By taking iPadOS 15 to the next level, rather than falling back on macOS, Apple can embrace the iPad for what it is: a hybrid device that is incredibly powerful. There are features Apple can bring from the Mac to the iPad, but the iPad should not run macOS. It needs iPadOS 15 with full optimization for the form factor.

What do you want to see in iPadOS 15? Let us know down in the comments.

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About the Author

José Adorno

Brazilian tech Journalist. Author at 9to5Mac. Previously at tv globo, the main TV broadcaster in Latin America.

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