Today, more than 80-percent of all Macs sold are notebooks, yet Apple sells about twice as many iPads as Mac. Through the years Apple poured various flavors of OS X into a bunch of products– Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Watch, so if a full-fledged notebook runs iOS is it a Mac?
Law Of Headlines
Some laws in the universe are, well, universally understood, even if occasionally they’re wrong. Take Betteridge’s Law Of Headlines as a perfect example.
Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no.’
We know that to be true– most of the time. I don’t know if the law applies in the case of a true-blue notebook that runs iOS. Is it a Mac? Is it an iPad with a keyboard? Apple already sells an iPad keyboard that turns the device into a notebook of sorts. I ask the questions because Jason Snell, a well-respected writer on all things Apple, makes a case for Apple’s next laptop running iOS.
The whole argument for and against can be a bit convoluted because the definition of what constitutes a notebook keeps changing. What defines a notebook these days? Mac or Windows PCs? Sure. Chromebooks? Uh, well, um, sure. Why not? They have a built-in keyboard and flip open and closed in the traditional notebook sense. But they’re underpowered and run Chrome OS and Android apps– and no apps of significance as you would find on a Mac or Windows notebook.
Still, Chromebooks are called notebooks even if they do not run what we would traditionally consider desktop class applications (and they don’t; so don’t take the argument in that direction, Linux-based Chrome and Android OS notwithstanding).
That said, if an anemic Chromebook is a notebook by definition, can we extend that to an iPad with an add-on keyboard. It sits up like a notebook. It has a keyboard like a notebook. It feels something like a notebook. And even the detachable screen-from-keyboard mechanism is similar to many Windows-based notebook-tablet-hybrids, right? That would seem to make an iPad a notebook, or, at least, a powerful tablet that can be used as a notebook with near desktop class applications (Microsoft Office comes to mind).
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is about the same size as the entry-level MacBook and MacBook Pro models, and with Apple’s own SmartKeyboard installed, about the same weight and price. Snell’s argument is that even with iOS, an iPad notebook– clamshell or detachable screen– is a ‘real computer.’ Should Apple build an iPad model that more closely resembles a clamshell notebook with attached keyboard? And, is that a computer? Should it be called a Mac?
I’ll answer my own questions this way:
First, yes, Apple should build a Mac-like iPad Pro with a keyboard (not an add-on keyboard; a built-in keyboard). Second, yes, such a device is a computer even if the girl in Apple’s most recent iPad Pro and iOS television commercial doesn’t know what a computer is. And, third, no it should not be called a Mac.
The key differentiators for macOS and iOS are their devices, despite similarities. The Mac runs some very powerful software in ways iPads and iOS cannot. The Mac does not– as much as I might want it to– have a touchscreen; unless you count the Mac notebook’s large trackpad as a touchscreen, and, frankly, it works about the same as a touchscreen on a Windows 10 notebook. The Mac, therefore, is keyboard centric while the iPad is touch centric, even though it can use a keyboard.
I’ve used a few of the iPad’s add-on keyboards and the experience is lacking. That tells me Apple needs to do an iPad with a keyboard but in a clamshell device. Windows PC makers do it. Why not Apple?
Just don’t call it a Mac.