WWDC 2019: Why The iPad Getting It’s Own OS Is A Big Deal

So after years of claiming that the iPad can replace a “real computer”, Apple have finally took legitimate steps in giving that claim some weight by actually giving the famous tablet its own dedicated operating system, iPadOS. I mean, it only took them about 9 years to do it, but better late than never, right? This is bigger news than you might think and here’s why.

First off, can we agree that the whole theme of WWDC this year was a little bit strange. For one, the highlight of the conference wasn’t the latest iOS as it usually is, but the fact that the iPad finally got it’s own OS and of course, news of the new US$6000 Mac Pro of course. It was a departure from the norm, to say the least. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you!

The new iPadOS

iOS has been one of the more dominant operating systems in recent years, but it has always been clear that given it’s roots in mobile ecosystems, it was never going to bridge that gap between being a mobile OS, and a bona fide replacement for PCs or Macs. The new iPadOS enables the iPad to grow up into a fully fledged computer— giving it more power, control and flexibility on top of finally giving the it the ability to really take advantage of a bigger screen.

Now lets take into account the other announcements from WWDC, namely Project Catalyst, which could potentially be the single most important announcement to come out of the conference. Project Catalyst understandably didn’t get as much coverage as the iOS update or the new Mac Pro, but think of it as Ant-Man in Avengers: Endgame. Not a lead character but without him, the Avengers wouldn’t have been able to, well, properly assemble. In a nutshell, Project Catalyst is a set of software tools and components (APIs) that will allow iPad developers to easily convert their application to run natively on a Mac.

Photo by Jeff Chu

What Project Catalyst reveals is Apple’s vision of a unified app strategy across its hardware platforms, similar to Google’s decision three years ago to bring Android apps to ChromeOS. Having iOS apps run on Macs, and having a more useful iPad, might hint at a time when Apple’s dominant mobile operating system could take over computers, too. From the perspective of you, the consumer, having all apps and services run seamlessly across all devices would pretty much take convenience to a whole new level. One device to handle all your needs? Why not!

The new iPad will eventually come with mouse and USB support, so couple this with the fact that the iPad Pro is already faster than the lower-end MacBooks, a trend that is only going to continue with future releases, and it becomes clear that Apple is positioning the iPad to replace the Macbook, especially on the lower end where the prices tend to align.

For the better part of the last decade, Macbooks have been the go to laptop for creatives to produce their music or edit their designs on. But if you had the option to carry around a capable iPad instead of a PC, wouldn’t you? iPads make even lightweight laptops like the MacBook Air seem a wee bit bulky, and they can have battery life and mobile network advantages, too.

Of course, this in no way spells the end of the Macbook series. The Macbook has become iconic in recent years and there will always be a spot for the creative professional who is always on the go in Apple’s product line up. Even until today, you can still go to any coffee shop and see a slew millennial’s hunched behind their silver clam shell Macbooks, either working hard or hardly working, but that doesn’t matter. Half of them only bought the Macbook for the aesthetic value it adds to their “look”. Regardless it’s indicative of its popularity.

All that being said, the iPad Pro still has a long way to go in terms of catching up with an eight-core Macbook Pro with a dedicated graphics card anyway, so again, the Macbook is here to stay. However, there is no denying that Apple’s introduction of the iPadOS could potentially lead to less variations of their famous Macbook line up as the company looks to seriously position the iPad as a bona fide PC replacement.





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