Rediscovering the Mac

Federico Viticci, of MacStories, famously enjoys and depends on iPads for his day-to-day work. But he has been testing a MacBook Pro for the past six months and has some thoughts about its multitasking capabilities:

Once again, I’m not bringing up these specific examples to argue that Apple should create similar features on iPadOS. Quite the opposite: Apple by itself can’t possibly cover the full spectrum of advanced features required by pro users on its platforms; they need a solid, trusted ecosystem of third-party developers to fill in the gaps. While macOS continues to allow developers to build and make a living out of power-user tools that are deeply integrated with the operating system, developers on iPadOS are still facing many technological restrictions (lack of APIs), performance limitations, and App Store rules that prevent them from doing the same.

In other words: if Apple can’t fill those functionality gaps for power users on iPad and won’t let third-party developers do so either, those gaps will remain unfilled. The difference now, compared to, say, five years ago, is that iPad users have solid alternatives in the new generation of Mac computers.

There are some people who will probably read this piece through the lens of a nonexistent platform war between MacOS and iPadOS. If they are a Mac user, they may think Viticci’s observations are obvious and unremarkable.

I think that is a myopic way to read this story. It is useful to see this perspective from a longtime and proficient iPad user who clearly enjoys the platform but is increasingly frustrated by its artificial limitations. Similarly, there are things Viticci dislikes about MacOS — like overlapping windows — which he makes more iPad-like. I know many people who use MacOS apps in a similar way, either running them in full-screen or in clear fractions of the display area. I am not one of those people; I love my overlapping windows. But the key thing, Viticci says, is that MacOS lets you choose.

Regardless of which system you prefer for your day-to-day work, I think you will get something out of this. I have an appreciation for both platforms but I wish Apple could figure out how capable it wants iPadOS to be. It is hard to believe the platform has retained essentially the same multitasking and app distribution mechanism even as it has begun to share processors with the Mac. We all know it is capable of so much more.