Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

The Back Page: We Are Absolutely Not Merging macOS and iPadOS Except It Depends on What You Mean by “Merging”

Thanks so much for coming to WWDC, everybody. Even though this year’s conference is being held virtually, we still found it a delight to have our huge and wonderful developer community all here. Now turn off your Wi-Fi. You’re slowing everything down.

We know this year’s keynote was full of big announcements, and that some of those announcements may have caused consternation amongst our most devoted users. So, once again, we want to make something abundantly clear to all of you out fretting there: We are not merging macOS and iPadOS.


And when I say “totally,” I mean we are not totally merging them. Or we are totally not merging them. It’s really a matter of how you parse that sentence, whether you use a first-in first-out or last-in first-out queue construction. But let’s not get technical here, this is a developer conference.

Are we bringing elements of macOS to iPadOS? Of course! For example, we learned from thirty-five years of the Mac that people just love their files, so we brought files to the iPad. Cursor support! People are all about mice. And mouses. And trackpads. And trackpants. So with a little magic (sold separately), the iPad is just as capable with a keyboard and a pointer as the Mac. And frankly, we’ve never seen a sidebar we didn’t like, so we slapped those suckers all over iPadOS 14. You’re going to love it.

But this isn’t just a one-way street—it’s a one-way street that we’re driving in reverse. The Mac’s going to benefit from the iPad too. You like rounded rectangle app icons? Of course you do! Now the Mac’s got them. All of them. Whether you like it or not. Mail? Roundrect. Messages? Roundrect. QuickTime? Hoo boy. Anyway. You want to ditch the boring old Mac interface that looks so 2010? No problem—let’s make it look a little more like the iPad. You want touch targets big enough that maybe there’s a touchscreen Mac coming? 🤔 ¯_(ツ)_/¯

We’ll never tell.

The point is, our platforms will work better together for you, because they’re closer than ever to each other. Just barely touching. Maybe a slight overlap here and there. And now they’ve even got the same processor architecture under the hood. But we’re using them in completely different ways. That are really mostly the same.

So, maybe you want to know what the difference is between an iPad running on Apple silicon and a Mac running on Apple silicon that can also run iPhone and iPad apps. It’s a great question, and one that we’ve thought a lot about, but why don’t you tell us what you’re thinking and we’ll tell you whether or not that’s right?

Anyway, I hope that what I’ve told you thus far has already allayed your concerns somewhat, but in case you’d need something more concrete and straightforward, I’m just going to come out and say it: a Mac’s still a Mac and an iPad’s still an iPad.

For now.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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