Combining the iPad and the MacBook Air Into One: Possible?

by Bakari Chavanu Jan 13, 2011

I'm sitting in Border's bookstore writing this article on my MacBook Air. For months, I avoided purchasing a new laptop because I wanted to see how far I could get using my iPad as a laptop device. Well, needless to say, I barely got out of town. And here’s why.

I mainly write on my desktop computer, but occasionally I like to get out of my office and write in a different environment. Though I use my iPad everyday for reading and consuming other media, the iPad as you might expect doesn’t hold up as a lap-top replacement.

You may have seen numerous iPad cases that include an attached keyboard. I haven't purchased one, but my hands-on experience with a few proved yet again that iPad was simply not made for laptop work. Sure, in a pinch, typing emails, forum messages and short blog posts can easily be handled by the mobile tablet, but for doing extensive writing and similar projects, the difference between the iOS and OS X is huge in many ways.

I thought I’d get more mileage out the iPad as a laptop when the iOS multitasking features were finally put into the device. But app switching is not the same thing as being able to have two more applications running side-by-side or several running in the background. Even the missing Finder of the iOS slows down computing productivity.

Yet many people want the iPad to be a small notebook, and here‘s how it could be: Apple could build a tablet that runs both the iOS and OS X system. When users want to run OS X or XI, they attach the tablet to a keyboard designed for Mac computing. When the device is detached, users can switch over to the iOS system and regain all its tactile and iOS features.

When I hold my iPad up against the screen of my MacBook Air, there’s only like a 2 inch difference in the screen sizes. If rumors are correct, the iPad could eventually be almost as thin as the screen/lid of the MacBook Air. So can’t you imagine Steve Jobs taking the stage in a rm   cnncmar or two and showing how Apple has combined the Air and the iPad into one seamless device? That’s right, introducing the new “iPad Air,” for how you want to compute.

You have to know it’s coming. Why shouldn’t it? In introducing the MacBook Air late last year, Jobs and his cohorts spoke of how the world’s smallest computer was built off what they had learned from building the iPad. But what they couldn’t do is make the MacBook Air replace the iPad, nor the iPad replace the MacBook Air.

In terms of profit, Apple probably gets more mileage out of selling both devices, but we consumers want fewer devices, not more.
Sure, a combined MacBook Air and iPad may end up being a little bigger than the MacBook Air model, but it would mean not having to carry around two devices that do almost the same thing, but yet have unique purposes.

As thin as the MacBook Air is, I can’t let go of my iPad—simply because I find it the best tool for consuming media—I can’t navigate websites, read e-books, watch videos, or even make handwritten notes on the MacBook Air like I can on the iPad.

But by the same token, I can’t use the iPad to produce content in the same way that I do with the MacBook Air or any other computer. Developers, including Apple, have produced apps to help iPad users produce content on the iPad. There’s Apple‘s iWork suite for the iPad, and there’s scores of other writing apps and notebooks for the device, but the built-in keyboard is too difficult to use for long-term writing, and the lack of a desktop on the iPad makes it even harder to access information as you write. On top of that, there’s missing features like a clipboard manager, folder hierarchies, selective screen capturing, a universal menu bar that make it nearly impossible to use the iPad as a serious writing or business computer.

We already know that the MacBook Air will not replace the iPad, or visa versa, but the million dollar question is: can they be combined and still retain their distinctive purposes?


  • What does “rm   cnncmar” mean?

    Parky had this to say on Jan 14, 2011 Posts: 51
  • As Steve also said when they announced the MacBook Air, reaching across the keyboard to touch the screen does not work for users and that is not the route they are going.

    Parky had this to say on Jan 14, 2011 Posts: 51
  • Yeah, Parky, I remember him saying that. And I agree. However, I’m wondering if it were possible to build an iPad that can run both the iOS and OS X systems, and users could switch between the two.

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Jan 14, 2011 Posts: 47
  • If the new Mac OS is going to be more iOS-like, then this becomes even more likely. All they have to do is make it so that the MacBook Air display can fold down and cover the keyboard, thus looking essentially—and functioning—like an iPad.
    There is no doubt that the perfect device for many people would be a combination of these two devices in one.

    Ukeplayer had this to say on Jun 20, 2011 Posts: 1
  • They could possibly merge the Ipad and Macbook Air together. But the big question is “Can Apple make one for a price that would sell?” That would be the ultimate question cause not everyone can afford apple. -County Line Nissan

    countylinenissan had this to say on Aug 10, 2011 Posts: 11
  • Even assuming that the technical difficulties in the hardware and software could be overcome I’m not sure if a convertible tablet is something that Apple would be interested in doing. I think that Apple do their best work when the concept that the are designing can be expressed simply; for example the iPod was “all your music in your pocket”. A convertible tablet isn’t a simple concept especially when it changes OS depending on whether the keyboard is out or not.

    You’ve also got the business side and the problem of how you price this convertible tablet. Ultimately Apple would like you to buy both an iPad and a Mac. A combined device would eat away at this so I would imagine that it would be priced pretty close to the combined price of a iPad and a MBA. Would it sell at this high price? I’m not sure it would sell enough to be worth the cost of developing it.
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    gamersen had this to say on Oct 31, 2011 Posts: 14
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