It seems a common reaction to the news of the M1 in the iPad Pro is that the iPad’s software is holding it back; you can’t fully utilize the hardware with iPadOS. There’s been speculation that the next step might be to run Mac apps or Mac OS on the iPad.

It’s amusing to see this swing when I feel like a few years ago there was fear that Apple was abandoning the Mac and the iPad was the future. I think this came from a place where the Mac hardware was in a bad spot and Apple wasn’t pushing forward fast enough (butterfly keyboard!).

Now, at a power and battery life level, Mac and iPad are roughly equivalent. That leaves form factor and software as the differentiators. I wonder for how long the iPad Pro’s form factor will be considered enough of a differentiator that people will find it worth the price in addition to a Mac. From the reaction, it seems that for most “pro” use cases, iPadOS doesn’t feel sufficient. I think I’m in this boat. I manipulate text all day (code and documents) and without the battery life advantage, there’s really no longer a selling point to the iPad for me. My work is worse or impossible* on an iPad, so why would I buy one when it’s similar cost to a Mac laptop?

It will be interesting to see what steps Apple takes here. I think WWDC will shed some light or at least give hints at where they are going.

*: Yes I can ssh to a server and code, but that’s a giant step down in UX for me.