Using Sidecar on the iPad makes me wish for an iPad with native macOS.
I upgraded my work MacBook to Catalina today and first thing to test out was Sidecar. And I’m very impressed. Even wireless Sidecar worked flawlessly for me. The image quality was indistinguishable for me from a native interface, I didn’t notice any artifacts whatsoever. The latency is great too, testing mouse movement there was very little input lag.
But of course, this entire experience is still powered by a very beefy MacBook Pro. With all the rumors about Apple working on ARM Macs, I’m really hoping we might see macOS on the iPad at some point.
Hear me out: I get that iPadOS has made advances, but frankly, it’s still so far from being usable as a viable alternative for my work.
How my ideal iPad would look like: Honestly, ideally Apple would take the Dex idea from Samsung and actually execute it properly.
So, while the iPad is portable, it runs iPadOS just as it does right now. However, if I dock it at home or at work, I’d like it to switch to macOS. Specifically, I’d like the iPad to get full mouse and keyboard support. I also need a proper external screen support, not the mirroring stuff you can do right now with the proper dongle. It really needs to be as solid as macOS’ display settings with various options for resolutions, aspect ratios and scaling.
Those are the big ones for me.
We’re doing already quite well on the keyboard support side (though I’m not sure I could plug a USB keyboard into an iPad and have that working), the mouse support as we all know is very rudimentary and external screen support is even more basic. Once these are solved I think I could work on the iPad.
The huge benefit of macOS would obviously be the library of software that’s available for it. Yes, Adobe promised a full-featured Photoshop for iPad, but it’s nowhere to be seen. I can however drag that Photoshop window to the iPad with Sidecar and use the Apple Pencil in Photoshop just fine. Same goes for all the other software that either has no equivalent on the iPad or an inferior one (and I get why, you have to design interfaces differently when you’re aiming for touch controls versus the granularity of a mouse or pencil and the willingness to pay for software is different). Also, running Parallels on an iPad would be pretty great for the odd Windows program.
Finally, we all know the hardware of the current iPads is extremely powerful and could most likely easily run macOS if power wouldn’t be a concern (hence docked-mode). It would also change the value-proposition of those iPads that nowadays cost as much as entry-level MacBooks significantly, if they gained this hybrid functionality.
What do you think? Will we see something like this in the coming years? Why not? What are the biggest hurdles to get there?