Apple's brand new Studio Display is the talk of the town for all kinds of reasons right now, not all of them good. But one of the things being discussed is the inclusion of an A13 Bionic chip that seems to do nothing more than handle image processing for the —currently poor — built-in camera and spatial audio for the included speakers. Isn't that ... a bit of a waste?
I'd argue that it is, and to know why you have to understand what else either previously came or still does come with an A13 Bionic inside. Namely, the ever-popular iPhone 11 and the still-popular 9th-gen iPad. The former was never accused of being slow and the latter is a mighty fine entry into the iPad ecosystem for anyone who wants it.
So here's the question — if a Studio Display has an iPad, an iPhone 11, and an iPhone SE built-in, and packs 64GB of storage, couldn't it be made to run iPadOS? Why yes, I think it could.
Now, I'm not the only one that thinks this, and I owe the idea to YouTube Matt Birchler — video embedded below! — for the initial idea. Birchler suggests that a future Studio Display could run a version of iPadOS and I think he's right. Because Apple already did the groundwork by building proper curser support into iPadOS.
Imagine, if you will, a Studio Display that can be connected to a nice new Mac Studio as normal. But you could also connect your mouse and keyboard straight into the display, flick a switch, and be using a full-screen iPadOS interface — and yes, complete with the App Store built-in. It sounds crazy. Right up until the part where it really doesn't.
And what if I told you that Apple already took care of the keyboard and mouse problem with a little thing called Universal Control. You might not even need to swap any cables or do any Bluetooth jiggery-pokery to get everything to work. It ... just works. We already know the A13 Bionic can handle iPad apps and whatnot because it's already doing it. The only question I might have is whether the chip would be up to throwing that many pixels around the screen. But if we're talking about a future model, put an A15 in instead. Apple chip chief Johny Srouji probably has a bucket load of them in a corner somewhere.
Now, I, like the rest of you, doubt this would happen but Apple is so close to it actually happening that it feels like a missed opportunity. Some have already called for the Studio Display to be able to act as a standalone Apple TV device, and they're right. Now imagine if that device could also run your calendar. And your task manager. And Safari. And everything else in the App store.
Like I said earlier, it sounds crazy. And then all of a sudden, it really doesn't anymore.
Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.
Not really to disagree, but just to point out....if you have some sort of Apple Silicon based Mac hooked up to the Studio Display, then you can already run iPad apps, if the developer didn't opt out of allowing their ipadOS app to run on Apple Silicon Macs. I mean, sometimes this is an inferior experience, but it isn't always. I use FuboTV on my Macbook Pro (I don't go to the web for it). Sports Illustrated iPadOS app works just fine. HBO Max, Luma Fusion, and many, many other apps work great. Of course, for any developer that opted to do the effort to do a Mac Catalyst app.....you don 't even need an Apple Silicon Mac. I'm not saying I wouldn't like the Apple Studio Display to turn into an iPad - that'd be great. What would be better would be 21 inch, 24 inch, and 27 inch iPad Pros, that have an option to use as a display to a Mac.
The iOS lurking inside the Apple display is more like firmware than useable software. Its been 2 weeks and nobody has cracked it yet, likely because it isn't actually useable.
Given that iPadOS is a touch based (first) OS, seems like this wouldn't be a particularly compelling use case, on a non-touch display. Apple has long insisted that having touch on even a Macbook/laptop format device would be awkward. They likely wouldn't stick it on a monitor. The concept of a significantly larger iPad might have some merit in some use cases, but the first thing it would need is a touch screen.
I'm gonna chime in with everyone else here. This is really just a nonsense fantasy. Even if it were possible (and it's not), the experience would be awful, underpowered and out of date. Does that sound like something Apple would do? Another click-bait article from Oliver.
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