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Do we need an ARM MacBook in an iPad Pro world?

Rumours of ARM MacBook have been swirling for some time now and they picked up again this week, but what would an ARM MacBook be like? And, is there any point when the iPad Pro exists?

First off, Apple is probably going to have some explaining to do to the average consumer if it does release an ARM MacBook as there’s little mainstream awareness of the tech. 

In simple terms, ARM chips are what is currently used by mobile phones, but they are slowly making their way to laptops – offering longer battery life and aiding in creating slimmer form-factors. The future of ARM chips on more demanding devices is promising, but we aren’t there yet.

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MacBook Pro 16

The most prominent example of this was the Surface Pro X, but that had a raft of compatibility issues. Compatibility is one of the reasons it’s believed Apple is yet to release an ARM MacBook – it wants to get it right.

However, if Apple is indeed working on this new machine, I have to ask: why? Why make this new MacBook with all the compatibility problems it brings when Apple already has a device with a ready-made ARM-compatible app store? I’m talking about the iPad Pro.

Using the iPad Pro to replace your laptop for everyday tasks has its own issues, but there are far less hurdles to jump than creating an ARM MacBook fully compatible with macOS apps.

I would contest that any benefits provided by the ARM architecture would be negated by the lower performance that an ARM MacBook would currently offer. Furthermore, any performance improvements an ARM MacBook would get from the advancement of that tech will also be available to the – already ARM-sporting – iPad Pro range.

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iPad Pro

At the moment, iPad Pro isn’t a viable machine for those who want to do substantial video or photo editing, but I can’t see a world in which an ARM MacBook could do much of a better job of that either – not in 2020 or, even, 2021.

Apple recently unveiled iPadOS – the company’s variation on iOS for broadening the experience of the operating system on a larger screen, such as improved multitasking. Apple will no doubt continue to develop this and I think this is the best option Apple fans have for a sleek and portable device.

Another thing holding the iPad Pro back from comfortably filling this hole in the market is its keyboard and mouse support. Apple did enhance support for mice with iPadOS, but it still isn’t an ideal experience.

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The keyboard is a bigger issue. The Apple Smart Keyboard Folio is very poor – the typing experience is woeful compared to what is offered from Microsoft’s Surface line and, even, Samsung’s Android tablet keyboard covers.

Thankfully, companies like Brydge, Logitech and Satechi have stepped in to create their own takes – offering better and, often, cheaper typing experiences. 

Apple is reportedly looking to improve in this area themselves, which is a godsend as a good keyboard attachment from the company is overdue. If Apple can nail this and continue to improve iPadOS, then what’s the point in an ARM MacBook?

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