Apple is doing what "Apple would never do"! Foldable iPad-MacBook hybrid?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Apple is doing what "Apple would never do"! Foldable iPad-MacBook hybrid?
Although we've had an amazing year here in the tech world, there remain a number of smartphone and tablet breakthroughs that were seemingly coming, but did not in 2022. Those notably include rollable phones, augmented reality, and folding tablets, among others.

For a while now there have been whispers in the tech community about Apple working on a folding iPhone, a folding iPad and a folding iPad-like MacBook, and while they're all exciting, they're also all clearly still in the research and development phase. Meaning Apple is testing these technologies to see if they have potential, but whether or not this actually leads to products we can buy is uncertain.

And while concepts like folding phones and tablets is something we've already discussed, the fact that Apple could be working on a foldable iPad-like MacBook laptop really captured my interest. Not only because I've seen how that goes – the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold already exists – and it's a folding Windows laptop that's not looking too polished or selling too well, even if it is a pretty cool concept come to life.

But what would a MacBook-iPad cross-breed look like? What will you be able to do with it, and is it even possible for Apple to make a product like that?

I remain skeptical about this, because it sounds very un-Apple

Over the years, Apple has proven itself as the type of company that wants to sell you different products for different solutions. This is not Samsung we're talking about here – where you get a device like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 – a smartphone, a tablet, and arguably even a desktop PC, all in one. No, the Cupertino company with the fruit logo instead really prefers to sell you an iPhone, an iPad and a MacBook respectively.

I believe so because iPhones never got stylus support, so you'd be "encouraged" to buy the iPad if you're an artist or someone who really likes taking handwritten notes.

The iPad itself never got desktop Mac apps, even though it's not only powerful enough to run them, but shares the exact same architecture and a near-identical processor with MacBooks, so you'd buy the latter.

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And MacBook laptops, in turn, never got touch screen support, like many other premium laptops do, so you'd… you guessed it – buy the iPad. You see that vicious cycle of having to buy several different Apple things?

So now how am I supposed to believe that Apple may actually release a folding iPad tablet that's either running MacOS, or more likely, iPadOS with support for MacOS apps? This is exactly the type of thing "Apple would never do."

However, miracles do happen, and even a seemingly stubborn company like Apple can surprise us. Previously I thought Apple would never bring desktop multitasking to the iPad, after years of expectations and disappointments, but lo and behold – the iPadOS 16 upgrade did just that! It actually pushed modern iPads a good step towards what a laptop can do. Including having a fixed taskbar, multi-windowed apps, true external display support…

Again, after a long wait, to the point where I had given up hope that any of this would come to the iPad, Apple did an "epic gamer moment" and subverted my expectations. And I'm very happy about it.

So, a folding iPad-MacBook hybrid could happen too, surely… And it's easy to imagine why.

M-powered iPads and MacBooks can technically run the same apps, so it makes sense to fuse the two into a single device

If you're both an avid iPad and MacBook user like I am, you may have noticed that MacBooks powered by the M1, and now M2 processors, have a new section in the App Store called "iPhone and iPad Apps for Mac With Apple Silicon."

As the name suggests, many of those are iPad apps that now run on MacBooks, and – excitingly for me – include my favorite mobile video editing app – LumaFusion.

But this isn't just proof that iPad apps can now easily run on M-powered MacBooks, because the two share an architecture; it surely works the other way around too – Mac apps can run on iPads.

Of course, only If Apple actually wants to give iPad users the option; but I'm assuming the Cupertino giant is worried that such a move will hurt MacBook sales.

Here's what we know for sure about Apple's potentially upcoming iPad-MacBook hybrid device

The latest rumor comes from trusted Korean news website TheElec, which earlier this month claimed that Apple is working on a foldable product that gets as big as 20 inches when unfolded, and is presumably similar in shape to a MacBook laptop.

Before that device ever theoretically gets released, or in place of it (if the concept falls through), Apple is speculated to drop an iPad-shaped folding device. Either way we're talking folding concepts, unlike anything Apple offers today.

Sure – this is pretty vague and lacking details, but also enough to get us going. Whichever design Apple decides to go with, one thing's for certain – it'll be a touchscreen device. And with that in mind, we can concur that it is likely to be running iPadOS, rather than MacOS, as the latter has no touchscreen support, nor is it ever seemingly looking to get it.

In order to facilitate a bigger folding display, however, the device could get a unique version of iPadOS meant for foldables, perhaps capable of running certain desktop apps. Kind of like how Android 12 got a fork for tablets and foldables, called Android 12L – a modified version with bigger displays in mind.

I would love this! Would you?

Let's indulge in the idea of a folding iPad that unfolds into a 20-inch MacBook-sized… computer? Tablet? Who knows these crazy days. Let's call it a "device" and move on.

Now, as someone who's used tablets regularly for the last decade, including some of the greatest ones ever made, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and M2 iPad Pro – I'll be real with you – these slabs have started losing their magic for me.

I get why many people, especially kids, use iPads to watch YouTube and stream movies – it's very simple and convenient… But for me, tablets have remained in the background in the last few weeks, as I've begun using my MacBook more often, plus my Windows laptop that's hooked up to a huge TV.

Why would I want to use an iPad when I have these two vastly better options, which can do more things – like tripe-A gaming, and all sorts of "real" work that relies on desktop apps and powerful, advanced file management. Oh, in case I'm traveling and need something more portable? Well, phones are pretty huge these days, so nowadays I'm defaulting to what's already in my pocket.

But a potential iPad that can unfold into something akin to a laptop would really excite me! How would that look? What will it be capable of doing? Could it be everything a MacBook does – which is basically limitless, or everything an iPad does – which, while quite a bit, remains more restricted?

If Apple fuses iPadOS and MacOS for this device on the software level, just like it may combine an iPad and a MacBook on the hardware level – I'll be all for it. We could use a bold new product like that in the mobile tech world!

A 20-inch touch screen device that you can fold into a tablet-sized sandwich and take on the go? And one that can run desktop apps? Sure, sign me in!

Now, a device like this will definitely take a few years, so I wouldn't hold my breath for even a teaser in 2023. But yet again – as tech fans – we've got plenty of reasons to look towards the near future, in anticipation of what wonders could be coming next.

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