During its WWDC 2020 keynote, Apple unveiled its plans for the future of the Mac, borrowing a lot from the iPad. At the same time, the iPad is gradually turning into a Mac. By thus transforming the Mac into an iPad and the iPad into a Mac, is Apple killing the computer?
For once, Apple has set aside a large part of its opening conference for WWDC 2020 to showcase its new Mac stuff. Concerns were growing over the firm’s lack of interest in its computer, giving increasing importance to its mobile devices, such as the iPhone and iPad. This is understandable, since the latter allow Apple to make the major part of its sales, so that the Mac would represent today less than 10% of Apple’s turnover, against almost half just for the iPhone… However, that did not stop Apple from unveiling a large number of new features for its computer this year. Thus, the firm has presented macOS Big Sur, the new version of its operating system, as well as unveiled its plans to switch from Intel processors to its Apple Silicon. Except that, if these novelties can delight fans of computers crunched with an apple, they only testify to Apple’s desire to bring the Mac closer to the iPad.
The Mac dreams of an iPad…
The case of the new macOS Big Sur is particularly telling. The firm has indeed completely redesigned its copy, largely borrowing the design codes of the iPad. Control center like iPhone, widgets of iOS 14, same applications as on the iPad, or identical icons… And that’s not to mention the Mac Catalyst, its system allowing developers to adapt their iPad applications on the Mac and come and provide a Mac App Store that is still very much used. Yes, the Mac is still a Mac, but it has never looked more like an iPad.
With macOS Big Sur, the Mac has never been closer to an iPad
As for the gradual transition from Macs to Apple SoCs instead of Intel processors, it’s hard to say more. This major project, which Apple describes as a “historic moment” in the history of the Mac, should, in the long term, allow Apple to extricate itself from the shackles of Intel to regain freedom in the design of its hardware, all by improving the performance of its machines more quickly. However, that means Macs should ultimately use the same chips … as an iPad. Even better, Apple used during its conference a machine equipped with an A12Z Bionic SoC, the same chip that can be found in the latest generation iPad Pro. It is also present in the developer kit that Apple offers developers so that they can adapt to this change of architecture.
… while the iPad is dreaming of a Mac
The Mac has never been so close to an iPad, and this is all the more the case after this keynote which outlines its future particularly inspired by the touch slate. At the same time, the iPad has also never been closer to the Mac. At the start of the year, Apple launched, for example, trackpad and mouse support on the iPad, while unveiling the Magic Keyboard, a very expensive keyboard / trackpad to transform the tablet into a real mini-computer. The very concept of the touch slate was turned upside down: with a real keyboard and a trackpad, is the iPad still an iPad?
The iPad Pro and its Magic Keyboard are furiously reminiscent of a Mac Until becoming one?
Above all, are we headed for a merger of the Mac and the iPad in the years to come? Nothing is less certain, since Apple has always wanted to distinguish its different OS between them, to distinguish iPadOS from iOS in its thirteenth iteration, last year. On the other hand, it would seem that Apple clearly wishes to regain control of the Mac, today become a lambda computer giving much greater freedom to the user, and this seems to happen as well by the arrival of its homemade chips the will of the firm to introduce more and more applications on the Mac. It is now clear that Apple wants applications on the Mac, but how much? Wouldn’t the risk be of bringing macOS so close to iPadOS that it would soon be impossible to download software other than through the Mac App Store? Are we heading towards a future where the Mac will necessarily have to run apps, and more traditional software?