Apple engineers dish on no macOS for iPad & why 11-inch model didn't get mini-LED

Posted:
in iPad
Two Apple employees sat down for an interview detailing decisions behind the iPad Pro with M1, engineering challenges of the device, and why macOS isn't coming to iPad.

The iPad Pro with M1
The iPad Pro with M1


The new iPad Pro with M1 processor and Liquid Retina XDR display is now available to customers. The powerful processor has lead to many questions about the future of Apple's tablet line and the state of software on the platform.

A member of the Apple display engineering team, Vincent Gu, and iPad Product Marketing, Scott Broderick, sat down with Brian Tong for an interview on his video podcast. The interview rehashed many of the talking points and specs for the iPad Pro, but there were a few new pieces of information shared about the product's development.

When asked about the mini-LED display, Gu says it required a "whole new level of engineering." Apple couldn't just slap a mini-LED backlight behind its LED display and expect it to work effortlessly. Gu described it as an optics challenge; the technology to synchronize the mini-LED with the display didn't exist and had to be invented from scratch.

These challenges are part of the reason why the 11-inch iPad Pro didn't receive the display. Broderick says that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro users expect the best technology and the best display possible, so that was the product chosen for the new display. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a half-millimeter thicker due to the inclusion of the mini-LED display, Broderick confirmed.

The 11-inch iPad Pro users are more concerned over the size and weight of the device, the engineers said, and that had to be considered. Beyond other technological restrictions and size constraints, keeping that one-pound tablet the same size and shape were paramount.

Development of the iPad Pro with the M1 processor, Thunderbolt port, and software considerations was an all-hands effort. Getting the display to work was a combined effort of the display team, the iPadOS team, and the M1 team all at once.

Bringing min-LED to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was an engineering feat
Bringing min-LED to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was an engineering feat


According to Broderick, if the iPad Pro is to be a powerful machine for HDR content development, the display and port both play an important part. Connecting peripherals like powerful external displays or fast Thunderbolt hard drives are a part of the creative process, so iPad Pro needed a powerful Thunderbolt port.

Gu and Broderick couldn't comment on future software or other plans for the product. They referenced the apps taking advantage of the unique technology that the iPad has to offer, like Adobe using Apple Pencil or Procreate using LiDAR for 3D rendering.

Tong asked if there was any consideration of running Boot Camp or macOS on the iPad Pro since it has a Mac processor.

Broderick responded simply that each platform is unique and distinct and will remain so. The iPad is touch first, has cameras and accessories, and apps that leverage that. The Mac is designed with the mouse and keyboard at the center of its interaction, and the apps reflect that.

Broderick added that the iPad and Mac will remain distinct, but Apple also wants to emphasize how the products work together. Using Continuity or features like SideCar will make these devices even more powerful in tandem.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a mini-LED display is available to purchase now starting at $1,099. The 11-inch iPad Pro may not have the new display, but it still has the M1 processor and starts at $799.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,656member
    iOS and macOS will remain distinct operating systems until Apple decides they won't.

    But yeah, the rationale for separating them is valid.

    I just wish Sidecar allowed me to "click a mouse button and move a mouse pointer with my finger." That would minimize the need to run macOS apps on iOS. But nobody even asks Apple why they won't allow that.
    jeffreytgilbertleehamm
  • Reply 2 of 71
    So what i’m hearing is Apple is still ignoring consumer demand regarding an unhobbled iPad OS, and unhobbled macbook pro hardware. There is 0 justification for limiting the user facing cameras to the same resolution found on the very first iPhone. Video looks like hot garbage. “Facetime HD” is laughably bad. Do better. Also not a fan of seeing trails of red smear going across my “retina” display on a 2020 macbook pro. They’re telling us laptop users don’t demand better displays? 

    On one side the hardware is bad. On the other side the software is bad. Can’t win! 
    lam92103williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 71
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,594member
    So what i’m hearing is Apple is still ignoring consumer demand regarding an unhobbled iPad OS, and unhobbled macbook pro hardware. There is 0 justification for limiting the user facing cameras to the same resolution found on the very first iPhone. Video looks like hot garbage. “Facetime HD” is laughably bad. Do better. Also not a fan of seeing trails of red smear going across my “retina” display on a 2020 macbook pro. They’re telling us laptop users don’t demand better displays? 

    On one side the hardware is bad. On the other side the software is bad. Can’t win! 
    Dell awaits you!
    tmaydewmeravnorodomlkruppmike1WgkruegerpatchythepirateRayz2016williamlondonfastasleep
  • Reply 4 of 71
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,025member
    I doubt any of us 11" users would have complained about the extra 1/2 milimeter and and 1.5 ounces of extra weight.  This decision was driven by cost and supply concerns.
    CheeseFreezeentropysfastasleepGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 71
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,025member
    So what i’m hearing is Apple is still ignoring consumer demand regarding an unhobbled iPad OS, and unhobbled macbook pro hardware. There is 0 justification for limiting the user facing cameras to the same resolution found on the very first iPhone. Video looks like hot garbage. “Facetime HD” is laughably bad. Do better. Also not a fan of seeing trails of red smear going across my “retina” display on a 2020 macbook pro. They’re telling us laptop users don’t demand better displays? 

    On one side the hardware is bad. On the other side the software is bad. Can’t win! 
    Yeah those new iPads and Macs are absolute garbage. 

    /s
    dee_deewilliamlondonfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 71
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    freerange said:
    So what i’m hearing is Apple is still ignoring consumer demand regarding an unhobbled iPad OS, and unhobbled macbook pro hardware. There is 0 justification for limiting the user facing cameras to the same resolution found on the very first iPhone. Video looks like hot garbage. “Facetime HD” is laughably bad. Do better. Also not a fan of seeing trails of red smear going across my “retina” display on a 2020 macbook pro. They’re telling us laptop users don’t demand better displays? 

    On one side the hardware is bad. On the other side the software is bad. Can’t win! 
    Dell awaits you!
    That was a one-off troll. He’ll never be back. Don’t worry.
    williamlondonGaby
  • Reply 7 of 71
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,520member
    So what i’m hearing is Apple is still ignoring consumer demand regarding an unhobbled iPad OS, and unhobbled macbook pro hardware. There is 0 justification for limiting the user facing cameras to the same resolution found on the very first iPhone. Video looks like hot garbage. “Facetime HD” is laughably bad. Do better. Also not a fan of seeing trails of red smear going across my “retina” display on a 2020 macbook pro. They’re telling us laptop users don’t demand better displays? 

    On one side the hardware is bad. On the other side the software is bad. Can’t win! 
    “Consumer demand”. You mean you and 3 others?

    Rayz2016williamlondonfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 71
    leehammleehamm Posts: 49member
    I just wish Sidecar allowed me to "click a mouse button and move a mouse pointer with my finger." That would minimize the need to run macOS apps on iOS. But nobody even asks Apple why they won't allow that.
    This mouse/finger click, brought to you by Luna Display. 
    fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 71
    lam92103lam92103 Posts: 58member
    Apple behaves like a dictator with their tech and then they wonder, why can't they beat an OS that comes with ads built-in, and has dialog boxes from over 20 years ago.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 71
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,944member
    flydog said:
    I doubt any of us 11" users would have complained about the extra 1/2 milimeter and and 1.5 ounces of extra weight.  This decision was driven by cost and supply concerns.

    I would certainly not complain. The overall size is the biggest difference for me. I own a 12.9" iPad Pro and it's my least favorite iPad because it's simply too big, at least as a traditional tablet. If you recast the 12.9" iPad Pro as more of a touch screen notebook by attaching a keyboard & trackpad, that's a whole different story. The only issue then is that you're now up into MacBook Air/Pro price territory so the functional pros/cons for your specific needs becomes the deciding factor. In my mind the 12.9" iPad Pro is on the purchase decision matrix against MacBooks, not other iPads.

    I hear exactly what the engineers are saying regarding iPadOS vs macOS. But I still overlay my own skepticism and think that they are both: 1) touting the company line and 2) stating a current state of conditions that are bound to limitations that other engineers within Apple are working very diligently to overcome. It's not unheard of for Apple to say one thing based on a current reality and to then create a new version of reality by overcoming the limitations or inadequate approaches that others have attempted prior to Apple stepping in and showing everyone how it should have been done in the first place. Nothing is cast in stone. If there is a really good way to converge macOS and iPadOS such that neither side is compromised, Apple will find a way to do it.
    edited May 21 fastasleepGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 71
    thedbathedba Posts: 667member
    Funny thing is when I saw this forum on AI, I went over to YouTube and watched the interview. Good job on Brian Tong getting these guys on. 
    Around midway through the video, my doorbell rings and the UPS delivery man handed me my brand new M1 iPad Pro 11", 6 days before the expected delivery date.

    Now back to topic. I don't think we will get MacOS on the iPad but I do expect some more loosening of the strings come WWDC time. We'll just have to wait. 
    As for the last question, BT asked them about what color they would've preferred?  I would've snapped up "forest green" in an instant. It's the color of the leather case I wanted for my iPhone XS but never came back in stock. 
    dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 71
    Guess they don’t want my money then. Never buying a MacBook again, too bulky and I already carry something capable of running macOS. No point with new iPads at the moment with this hardware if they don’t want anything to make use of it. Remoting into a proper os doesn’t require much processing power. 
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 71
    Instead of having the iPad run MacOS, what about having certain MacOS apps run on iPadOS, kinda like the reverse of running iPadOS apps inside MacOS.  That way it is on the developers to do the ports instead of Apple to re-write the system software and expect every developer to stick to a pre-defined set of input controls.  The reasons why windows touch sucks 1) most apps are not designed for touch and 2) most apps are not designed for touch.

    Maybe I'm being naive here, but why can't apple continue to advance the iPad system software and let the developers make apps?  What exactly about iPadOS is really the cripple (besides single user, crappy file structure, no time machine, etc)?  Or Is it because X application doesn't run on iPadOS?  If the latter, doesn't that mean it is up to the developer to make one?  For me, I'm about to go all in on iPadPro, replacing my slightly aging 2007 17-inch MBP with the 12.9 2021 "lensflare" model.  I don't think there is much that I can't do on the iPadPro that I can do on a Mac productivity-wise.  Perhaps there are necessary work-arounds.  Is there a list somewhere that compellingly lays out why MacOS is better than iPadOS, and these things would be solved by porting MacOS to iPadPro without losses of the iPadOS benefits?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 71
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 861member
    So what i’m hearing is Apple is still ignoring consumer demand regarding an unhobbled iPad OS, and unhobbled macbook pro hardware. There is 0 justification for limiting the user facing cameras to the same resolution found on the very first iPhone. Video looks like hot garbage. “Facetime HD” is laughably bad. Do better. Also not a fan of seeing trails of red smear going across my “retina” display on a 2020 macbook pro. They’re telling us laptop users don’t demand better displays? 

    On one side the hardware is bad. On the other side the software is bad. Can’t win! 
    Apple is pretty good at determining what consumer demand is, and cutting products that don't sell, and building products that do. So, your characterization about Apple ignoring consumer demand, hobbling IpadOS, etc seems farfetched -- to be kind. 

    Apple has been successful. They seem quite expert in satisfying their market. That market may not include you, but I think they're okay with that. 
    boomer0127thtwilliamlondonRayz2016uraharawatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 15 of 71
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,198member
    What exactly about iPadOS is really the cripple (besides single user, crappy file structure, no time machine, etc)? 
    They are all pretty big limitations.  Also cut and paste still isn’t right, windowing and multitasking is still too clunky etc etc. there are work arounds, but it isn’t simple, and it isn't Apple intuitive.

    and it is ipadOS that is holding iPad back. It could be fixed with code.
    edited May 21 MplsPwilliamlondonGeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 71
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,432member
    entropys said:
    What exactly about iPadOS is really the cripple (besides single user, crappy file structure, no time machine, etc)? 
    They are all pretty big limitations.  Also cut and paste still isn’t right, windowing and multitasking is still too clunky etc etc. there are work arounds, but it isn’t simple, and it isn't Apple intuitive.

    and it is ipadOS that is holding iPad back. It could be fixed with code.
    Several apps are crippled, too. All of it is imminently fixable with upgrades to iPadOS, which is what makes it so frustrating. You have a stellar piece of hardware that is just waiting to be set free.
    williamlondonGeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 71
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,557member
    So what i’m hearing is Apple is still ignoring consumer demand regarding an unhobbled iPad OS, and unhobbled macbook pro hardware. There is 0 justification for limiting the user facing cameras to the same resolution found on the very first iPhone. Video looks like hot garbage. “Facetime HD” is laughably bad. Do better. Also not a fan of seeing trails of red smear going across my “retina” display on a 2020 macbook pro. They’re telling us laptop users don’t demand better displays? 

    On one side the hardware is bad. On the other side the software is bad. Can’t win! 
    Then you seriously need to clean the wax out of your years.  What they're saying is the iPad will remain the iPad and the Mac will remain the Mac.  That doesn't mean that iPadOS won't get more features or more capable over time.  It just means Apple is not focused on it being a Mac replacement.
    williamlondonRayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 71
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,557member
    flydog said:
    I doubt any of us 11" users would have complained about the extra 1/2 milimeter and and 1.5 ounces of extra weight.  This decision was driven by cost and supply concerns.
    Definitely supply concerns.  I don't think Apple would have an issue of selling the 11" iPad Pro for $899 if it had enough supply of mini-LED screens.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 71
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,685member
    Instead of having the iPad run MacOS, what about having certain MacOS apps run on iPadOS, kinda like the reverse of running iPadOS apps inside MacOS.  That way it is on the developers to do the ports instead of Apple to re-write the system software and expect every developer to stick to a pre-defined set of input controls.  The reasons why windows touch sucks 1) most apps are not designed for touch and 2) most apps are not designed for touch.

    Maybe I'm being naive here, but why can't apple continue to advance the iPad system software and let the developers make apps?  What exactly about iPadOS is really the cripple (besides single user, crappy file structure, no time machine, etc)?  Or Is it because X application doesn't run on iPadOS?  If the latter, doesn't that mean it is up to the developer to make one?  For me, I'm about to go all in on iPadPro, replacing my slightly aging 2007 17-inch MBP with the 12.9 2021 "lensflare" model.  I don't think there is much that I can't do on the iPadPro that I can do on a Mac productivity-wise.  Perhaps there are necessary work-arounds.  Is there a list somewhere that compellingly lays out why MacOS is better than iPadOS, and these things would be solved by porting MacOS to iPadPro without losses of the iPadOS benefits?
    Ask again in 3 weeks after WWDC. I’d be surprised and a mite disappointed if there wasn’t significant news in helping developers take working Mac apps and add a supplementary interface to them to make as much functionality as practical run on the iPadPros. 

    Would be good carrot for developers to transition to M1 for Mac app and maybe tie in say more swiftUI features adopted across both versions of app. 

    The interesting will be store front as a lot of these apps have own subscriptions services and offer cross platform licenses so might need hidden store. They also need to work out how to handle plugins in the context of iPadOS. 

    Fun times ahead and big wins for both Apple and Mac developers if they answer some of these questions at WWDC. 


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 71
    dee_deedee_dee Posts: 78member
    lam92103 said:
    Apple behaves like a dictator with their tech and then they wonder, why can't they beat an OS that comes with ads built-in, and has dialog boxes from over 20 years ago.
    They did beat Windows though?  There are more active iOS devices than Windows machines. 

    Apple won.  

    Why in the hell do you think Apple is worth so much more than Microsoft?  

    Apple won. 
    edited May 21 williamlondonasdasd9secondkox2jdb8167watto_cobra
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