in Opinion

One of the ideas that has been pushed about a bit is for Apple to make an iOS laptop. That is a device running iOS but which comes with a fixed keyboard. There are a few assumptions added in to this device like.

  • It has a touchscreen
  • It has a touchpad

I don’t think either are unreasonable but it’s worth stating as “laptop” could mean non touch and iOS could mean no touchpad, still an iOS device with a more permanently attached keyboard (akin to the brydge) could also match this description and likewise a Macbook (12”) running iOS with a touchpad but no touch screens would also fit this sort of description too. After initially disliking the idea, I now see that this is a device Apple probably should make…but I wouldn’t personally want.

Why Apple Should make an “iOS laptop”

This is partially a continuation from my thoughts on what Fraser Speirs highlights as Apple’s problem. For whatever reason, the web still isn’t that tablet (or phone) friendly. An iOS laptop could assist the push for both Apple to make a more traditional web friend device, but also for web developers to make sites which suit iOS devices better.

In addition, a traditional laptop form may attract more legacy users who view a classic keyboard and mouse/touchpad as essential. It may also attract more developer who don’t believe that their software would work without these input devices.

But I suspect some people will wonder why someone would want a laptop with such a limited OS rather than a more powerful and open operating system. To that question I think Walt Mosberg has the best riposte. His perspective is that an operating system like iOS is more popular thanks to the consume focused software that includes greater security, easy download and update apps and simplicity.

Sure, you might need a truck a traditional PC, but that doesn’t mean the vast majority of people do.

The risk of an iOS laptop

The risk is that it would promote lazy development where touch is at best an after though and at worst not even considered. If a developer simple ports their traditional interface to a touch interface, it won’t take advantage of expectations when people interact with a touch interface. It may also be overly complicated and difficult to use

For an example of this, look at photoshops many floating windows vs something like Snapseed. Now Snapseed is no where near as powerful but you can clearly see which suits touch better.

(For the record, as great as affinity photo is, I believe it is guilt of these issues)

Why I wouldn’t be interested in an “iOS Laptop”

Despite my belief that an “iOS laptop” would probably (on balance) be good for Apple, it wouldn’t be for me. As a teacher, being able to use a tablet in a variety of different situations is the key reason for using an iPad. A laptop (even a convertible one) just isn’t as good for me. I often detach the smart keyboard so that I’m liberated further from having a keyboard, so a flip laptop design like some chromebooks with their keyboards on the back would be terrible to me.

That’s not to say I don’t use a keyboard, I have a smart keyboard attached right now and I have a bluetooth keyboard for when I’m at home, but in the classroom (or traveling on a train) I don’t want that constraint.

A third way?

Perhaps there is another design that would suit me and those who do want an iOS laptop. Something with a highly flexible attachable keyboard that can be used in a variety of orientations. That could be a device that would be very interesting to me. Till then tablets are a far better choice for me.

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