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TIMO ZIMMERMANN

balancing software engineering & infosec

Thoughts on touchscreen Macs

posted on Monday 16th of November 2020 in , ,

Apple was always pretty clear that they do not work on a touchscreen Mac. They consider Macs a different class of devices and do not see a touchscreen as an valuable asset. Now, with Big Sur being released and the aesthetics being close to what we know from iOS and iPad OS, there was more speculation.

Apple representatives were quick to point out that they did not consider touch input when designing Big Sur. And having used Big Sur for a bit it is pretty obvious that it still would suck for touch input. Funnily the AppStore had an animation up for some time showing a hand interacting with Big Sur. The tweet is „unavailable“ by now, I am not sure why.

I see two options in the long run, both equally likely at this point. (And with long run I would say give it a year or two – basically an eternity when it comes to computers.)

The first option is we will indeed at one point see a touchscreen Mac – and Apple will pretend they just invented a whole new device class. Dell, Lenovo and Razer already ship 2in1’s or laptops with touchscreens and the Surface lineup is gaining more and more fans. There certainly is a market, people are satisfied with the devices and Apple is not ready yet to join the game.

What I actually hope for is option number 2: Apple bringing the full power of macOS to the iPad. Maybe via a docking solution. Run iPad OS while on the road, dock your iPad and switch to macOS. It might cannibalize some of their laptop sales, but I would also throw a lot more money at a device like this than at an iPad. Looking at the size of an iPad Pro 12.9″ and a MacBook Air this should be easily doable with the M1 or its successor.

Either way, I expect Apple to announce something along those lines somewhen the next twelve month. Otherwise competition might actually start gaining a lot more traction as they refine their hardware design and hopefully also operating systems.