Are you interested in the M1 iPad Pro even without macOS?

Are you interested in the M1 iPad Pro even without macOS?

The distinction between iPad and MacBook was not as marginal in the past as it is now. With its custom ARM-based M1 chip on certain MacBook models last year, Apple introduced support for iPhone and iPad apps on the M1 MacBooks. The company even spent a major part of 2020 raving that the iPad Pro is a computer that’s not a computer. And while the Magic Keyboard accessory also contradicts that notion, the latest iPad Pro models launched earlier this week run on the same M1 chipset. That means the iPad Pro 2021 — and future models of the tablet — can theoretically handle many of the same workloads that MacBooks are capable of and potentially run apps intended for MacBooks. But the iPad Pro still runs on iPadOS — the tablet version of iOS — even when many think it should be able to run macOS without any issues. Even with this in mind, are you still be interested in the new iPad Pro?


Consumers have been asking for Macs with touchscreens for many years but that still remains an uncharted route for Apple. On the other side, i.e. in the land of Microsoft Windows, the transition from tablet to PC is more seamless. Microsoft’s own Surface lineup is a brilliant illustration that a computer can be both a tablet and a laptop. However, Apple has instead poured its energy into creating a separate operating system for the iPad called iPadOS. The experience on iPadOS is relatively closer to a desktop but still misses the experience offered by macOS.

While Apple has been working with developers to port apps that run natively on the M1 processor, it did work on an intermediate solution. Apple’s Rosetta 2 translates x86 calls used by macOS apps to run on ARM-based M1 devices seamlessly. So, in theory, if the new iPad Pro can run macOS, it should also be capable of running these apps, even if Apple is unlikely to open up that functionality.

Multitasking on macOS is definitely much better than on iPadOS. Even though Apple claims you can open multiple windows at a time on your iPad, it just cannot match the experience that multiple desktops offer. Not just that, the iPad versions of some apps are no match to the full desktop versions designed to run on macOS.

The computing power the M1 chip offers, paired with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, makes the highest-end iPad Pro seem like overkill. The real advantage it has over a MacBook is not portability but rather a touchscreen and 5G connectivity. All that hardware can’t be utilized to its full extent with iPadOS. It is like Apple is teasing its users with the abilities that an iPad Pro can offer but restricting them just so that it can make them purchase two different devices.

We see no reason why the iPad Pro 2021 shouldn’t support macOS, especially when the newly launched iMac also runs on the same M1 chipset. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below. 

About author

Tushar Mehta
Tushar Mehta

I am a Senior Editor at XDA. I have been reviewing gadgets for over five years and gained experience by working for prominent tech publications in India before joining XDA. I enjoy fiddling with all smart objects and my love for software customization dates back to the Symbian S60 days. I like to devote my spare time idealizing the romantic union of technology and philosophy or spacing out on Pink Floyd. You may email me at [email protected]

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