What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?: iPad Pro 2021
Image credit: Apple

Before talking about the future of the iPad Pro, let’s start from the very beginning. In 2010, Steve Jobs had introduced a device that was a blend of a phone and a computer. And it did actually  set the post-computer world on fire.

Now it’s 2021, and the iPad has been ruling the tablet market ever since. In these years, the iPad has proved itself to be a utility device. It has improved so much that it has replaced the primary computers for many. 

Among all the iPads, the iPad Pro is the most capable device. With its excellent display, breath-taking performance, and amazing Magic Keyboard (and so much more), it delivers on the need of many. And it seems that Apple’s claims that “Your Next Computer is not a Computer.” seem to hold.

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?: iPad Pro 2021
Image credit: Apple

On April 21, 2021, Apple introduced the 2021 iPad Pro with a powerful M1 chip, a Liquid Retina Pro XDR display, unbelievable Unified Memory options of 8GB and 16GB, storage options up to a whopping 2TB, and so much more. And here are the power-users asking the same question again, “When will Apple provide the software to match the sheer power of the iPad Pro?”

If you are confused about the future of the iPad Pro, we may have some answers for you.

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?: iPad Pro 2021 with new Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil
Image credit: Apple

The iPadOS has so far empowered the iPad in its short run. Features like cursor support, better file management, and scribble have made the iPad capable of handling plenty of tasks, like a conventional computer. 

But we can’t ignore that owning pretty powerful internals, the iPad Pro deserves more professional tools. And this feeling is at an all-time high after the 2021 iPad Pro received some unbelievable upgrades. 

Also, some reports from Jon Prosser say that the professional apps like Final Cut Pro, XCode & Logic Pro will soon make their way to the iPad Pro.

If the iPad Pro gets the software it deserves, let’s see how it can be done?

1. Dual-booting into iPadOS or MacOS

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?: Dua booting of macOS on iPad Pro

As the Boot Camp fans will point out that Macs have a long history of dual-boot solutions. Providing a way to boot an iPad into the macOS natively would fascinate many power users and would certainly be the simplest solution from Apple’s engineering standpoint.

Apple holds the dual-boot experience as well as the requisite hardware, making this a low-cost solution. 

But to boot between the iPadOS and macOS, a device restart is required, which will make the user experience far too disruptive. 

A possible solution to this problem would be to ensure that both the iPadOS and the macOS share the same installed iPadOS apps (as made possible with Apple Silicon). But still, it will have a flow-breaking impact. Imagine using an iPadOS app, and suddenly the user wants to use a macOS native app. In such a scenario, the user needs to restart the device to use the native macOS app. 

If you think that you won’t be bothered by the restarts, then also, don’t get your hopes high as this is the most unlikely solution to be adopted by Apple. Imagine how frustrating it will get to interact with tiny buttons of the macOS UI.

Verdict: Unlikely to happen.

2. A support for macOS apps 

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?: A support for macOS Apps
Image credit: Apple

Thanks to the M1 SoC, macOS can now run iOS/iPadOS apps, provided the app developer allows it. These iOS/iPadOS apps barely require any modifications to run on the macOS. Also, the old Intel-based macOS apps could run on the M1 Macs using Rosetta 2.

What if Apple decides to launch something like Rosetta 2 for the iPadOS? This solution doesn’t look promising from a UI perspective. 

As the iPad is a touch-screen device, all its apps are well-optimized for touch. Since most native macOS apps have no optimization for touch-controls (having small buttons to interact with), this implementation also doesn’t make much sense.

Verdict: It gets messy.

3. A ‘Universal Apple Platform’ (UAP) plan

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?: Universal Apple Platform
Image credit: Apple

To understand what ‘Universal Apple Platform’ could be, we have to talk about ‘Microsoft Universal Platform (UWP)’. The UWP enabled the developers to code apps that would work on Windows Phone, Windows, Xbox, and Surface Hubs.

Apple’s iPhone and iPad have always worked together, but a Universal Apple Platform (UAP) might enable developers to build a single app that runs on all Apple Silicon devices.

This model could enable the developers to migrate their macOS apps to UAP apps. It would avail the apps across all the devices using Apple Silicon. 

But, the real problem comes with heavy apps like Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, etc. As the functionality of these apps depends on the device they run, it will be a very tedious task for the developers to code these apps as UAP apps. So the developers would stick to keeping the separate implementation of the apps as per the device used.

An easy-to-use SDK can solve this problem as it will help to tailor the apps according to the particular device. Apple has prior knowledge about this as the iPhone/iPad screen sizes have changed over time, they have developed iOS SDKs that power multiple generations of devices. The Mac Catalyst proves that Apple knows the art.

I consider that this future is possible, but given the success of the Apple Ecosystem, the company would not be opting for a whole new strategy.

Verdict: Possible, but Apple won’t go with it. 

4. A hybrid of iPadOS and macOS

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?: A hybrid of iPadOS and macOS
Image credit: Filippo Alessandrini

The iPad was initially launched with iOS, which was the zoomed-in version of the iPhone’s iOS. The iPad shared its software updates with the iPhone for 9 years before getting a more desktop-like iPadOS. All this time, the macOS was flourishing independently. But this changed with the M1 SOC and macOS Big Sur. Now, the macOS has incorporated a lot of tablet-like features.

Now imagine if Apple comes out with a new OS that blends both the iPadOS and macOS. 

Out-of-the-box, an iPad Pro would have a touch-first UI, but when connected to an external mouse and keyboard, it would adapt to a macOS-like OS. The AppleOS would include features like multiple screens support, a macOS-like multi-tasking, Pro Apps, various User Accounts, etc. 

To avoid the mistake that Microsoft made with its Windows 8 and its lack of support for Win32 apps; Apple could restrict the classic Mac apps to run only in the desktop mode (when the iPad Pro connected with an external mouse and keyboard).

MacBooks would still exist for people who need a superior keyboard, extra ports, longer battery life, better thermals, etc.

Now imagine if in the future the iPhone rocks an M series Apple chip. The iPhone would then be a top-notch smartphone, or a portable gaming console, and (the craziest of all) when connected to an AppleOS adapter would become a Mac Mini-like machine.

Verdict: Magical, but a fantasy for now.

5. iPadOS to continue getting more desktop-like features

What Is the Future of the iPad Pro?: iPadOS
Image credit: Apple

It is the most probable option, with which Apple will try to make the iPad Pro more like a desktop in the coming years. Since the original iPad Pro in 2015, Apple has continued to beef up the OS for better performance and productivity. 

This year, Apple could bring out some changes like a reconstructed notification system with more customizability, a redesigned Home Screen that allows users to place widgets anywhere on the app grid, and various accessibility features like Eye-tracking support.

This approach doesn’t mean that the iPad Pro won’t get much power in the future. To harness the power of the iPad Pro, the developers will soon come out with more powerful apps for video rendering, photo editing, gaming, 3D modeling, coding, etc., already hinted at by Jon Prosser.

This option may seem boring to tech enthusiasts, but this is the option with which Apple will most probably move forward. Also, if the iPad Pro is given the same functionality as the MacBook Air or the 13″ MacBook Pro, it would create a dilemma for buyers if they should go with iPad Pro or these MacBooks. It could also possibly hurt the sales of the MacBook Air. As the MacBook Air is the most popular MacBook, Apple would not want to risk its sales.

Verdict: Boring, but the most probable implementation.

I am not sure if most folks are ready to ditch their MacBooks for an iPad Pro just yet. But with the upcoming iPad Pro models, Apple could really change your stance on portable computing. So, keep your eyes open, and you may witness a transition of a lifetime.

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