Is the next step for MacBook Air to become a tablet?

definitive

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Aug 4, 2008
1,964
709
I've been looking at what Microsoft has been doing with its Surface Pro, and it made me think that Apple could do something like it with its Air notebook. It's already thin, and removing its keyboard would only make it lighter and thinner. Apple could also integrate some touch screen features into its next version of OS (after 10.9). Apple also offers bluetooth keyboards, mice and trackpads, so it wouldn't be an issue if you wanted a full-featured laptop... It also wouldn't interfere much (if at all) with the iPad given the price difference, and for those who'd want an actual laptop, there's always the rMBP (it seems that Apple will eventually discontinue the cMBP.
 

Nov 28, 2010
22,684
27
located
Removing the keyboard would only shave off some mm and maybe 50 to 100 g, and for touch screen interaction, the OS needs to be modified, unless you do not have a problem using the Menu Bar with fingers (after all, 22 pixels height is enough to not miss it that much with your tiny fingers) or any of the other elements design for a pointing device like a cursor.
Keyboard shortcuts would also be reduced, unless you take a 200 g and almost 10 mm high bluetooth keyboard with you.

The iPad is quite a good solution for touch interaction, and if one needs the marginally faster CPU power a MacBook Air offers, why would one need an iPad in the first place? And while touch is quite a cool interaction method, it is not as precise as a mouse or trackpad and it gets tiresome after a while, but it is cool nonetheless.
 

Mrbobb

macrumors 601
Aug 27, 2012
4,989
192
To me a touch PC won't come to fruition until the Apps are made touch-centric and that will take Wintel at least a couple of years.

Apple already has a successful tablet so they just make IOS versions of the OSX Apps, why would the have to touch the Air?

Anywhoo a laptop feels perfectly comfy on my lap. Can't imaging working a tablet, any tablet for any extended time.
 

racer1441

macrumors 68000
Jul 3, 2009
1,771
302
Not a prayer this happens. Why would you follow the path of a obscure and unpopular product?
 

DisMyMac

macrumors 65816
Sep 30, 2009
1,086
9
Not until "u" means "you", and other text-speak gets formalized.... Next year maybe.
 

WilliamLondon

macrumors 68000
Dec 8, 2006
1,699
13
Is the next step for MacBook Air to become a tablet?
Not a dumb idea, not even a stupid idea.

While I don't expect the MBA to become a tablet, what I think is quite possible is that the screen of the MBA (or MBP, which at some point I'm sure will merge with the MBA line) could be detached from the keyboard and become an iPad running iOS, but while attached to the keyboard (with some internals beneath the keyboard as it is now), would be OS X (but no touch, please - OS X doesn't need a touch interface, that's what iOS is for!). That would be quite interesting, and much more logical than the Surface route that Microsoft is currently promoting.
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fearmongering /ˈfɪəmʌŋgərɪŋ/ Noun - 1. the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue, a tactic favoured by morons and idiots, most commonly known as conservatives, Republicans and Fascists; who perpetually claim the end of the world is just around the corner in order to control you and your harmless actions.
 

JoeyCloverfield

macrumors regular
Sep 16, 2012
243
0
I do somewhat like the idea the Surface (Pro) was built upon. However, I think the Surface specifically is a gimmick. For a tablet, it's a tad to heavy. For a laptop, it doesn't actually sit effectively on your lap.

Take a look at Asus's Transformer Book. That, to me, makes more sense because it doesn't limit the possibilities. Those who don't want to detach the tablet portion, don't have to.

However, aside from the initial "oh look, that looks cool" response, what purpose would it serve? How would you use the tablet portion? How would that add to the functionally of the current MBA and/or OS X?
 

SnowLeopard2008

macrumors 604
Jul 4, 2008
6,773
8
Silicon Valley
Dumb idea. Stupid idea.

Surface (both RT and Pro) are flops. Apple already has a tablet (two in fact). iPad and iPad mini. Unlike Microsoft, which made tablets about a billion years ago and currently has no tablets to offer, Apple is in a very diversified position. It doesn't need to make up for lost time like Microsoft has been trying to do lately.
 

DisplacedMic

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2009
1,411
1
is it just me or have these forums become a bit nasty as of late?

as for you OP - that is the worst idea i have ever heard. you should be hanged by your toenails, your land and fields burned and then tossed with salt

:p:D
 

DisplacedMic

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2009
1,411
1
There's a 1 to 1 correlation between nastiness and stupid questions. :D
demand drives supply, generally not the other way around. if there is a demand for an "ipad with a keyboard" then somebody is going to fill it, be it Apple or somebody else. Now, I certainly don't believe that the Air would become the new tablet in the sense that they would abandon the Air as is, but an iPad with a keyboard might not be too far off.

the iPad certainly breathed new life into the 10+ year stagnating tablet industry, and it would appear that Jobs was right that the touch screen laptop is impractical, but again - if people want it and it's possible, somebody's going to make it.

Logitech's ipad "keyboard cover" seems to be selling pretty well.
 

Mr Kram

macrumors 68020
Oct 1, 2008
2,370
1,169
doesn't make sense at this point. what OS would it run? just buy an ipad with a keyboard.
 

DisplacedMic

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2009
1,411
1
Agreed.



I do not see Apple offering this. However, I can see them making changes to iOS that reduces the 'screen taps' needed or, gasp, mouse/trackpad support.
yeah, all of these reasons and more were part of Jobs' reasons for dismissing the idea. and he would know.

i think manny of us don't really appreciate the differences between the iPad and a "real" computer.
people jumped all over me for calling the iPad a toy a few weeks ago but... it's certainly not a real computer or at least not running a real OS.

look at the geekbench numbers alone. obviously the iPads and other phone/tablets are getting more and more sophisticated which means you can do more and more real work on them, but for now i agree that it's not practical.

what i meant was that if logitech is selling their external keboards, i think it's only a matter of time before apple makes their own (presumably superior) accessory for the ipad that does the same thing, only better.
 

Stetrain

macrumors 68040
Feb 6, 2009
3,548
17
I think that over time the opposite will happen.

OSX is not touchscreen friendly, period. Apple already has a modern touch optimized OS that takes the best technical parts from OSX, it's called iOS.

Right now iOS is quite limited in capabilities compared to OSX, but it's still a young OS and has mostly been constrained by the capabilities of the hardware it runs on.

Over time I think we will see Apple add more and more capabilities to iOS to make it a more full featured computing OS. With that could come more form factors like notebooks, convertibles, or even desktops.
 

wolfpuppies3

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2012
413
0
Virginia, USA
Horrible idea IMHO. Have two airs and love them for what they are, small light, easy to use computers. Also have an iPad3 and iPad mini, love them also for what they are - not at all compters, light surfing, movie watching, book reading.. Different tools entirely for different jobs.
 

Carouser

macrumors 65816
Feb 1, 2010
1,410
1
I've been looking at what Microsoft has been doing with its Surface Pro, and it made me think that Apple could do something like it with its Air notebook. It's already thin, and removing its keyboard would only make it lighter and thinner. Apple could also integrate some touch screen features into its next version of OS (after 10.9). Apple also offers bluetooth keyboards, mice and trackpads, so it wouldn't be an issue if you wanted a full-featured laptop...
Apple tried this. Then, they found out that OS X in its original form wouldn't work well on a tablet. So they made the necessary changes so that it would be usable, and released it in 2010.
 

ayres

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2010
242
13
i think the next step for the air is to become what the white macbook used to be - the least expensive way for someone to own an apple laptop (a step below the retina mbps). all this talk of adding new features to the air, but i don't see that happening. they need to keep it around the $1000 price point.
 

Mrbobb

macrumors 601
Aug 27, 2012
4,989
192
Take a look at Asus's Transformer Book. That, to me, makes more sense because it doesn't limit the possibilities. Those who don't want to detach the tablet portion, don't have to.
Convertibles are atrocious. They been around before. They look cute on paper but end up not doing well on either task.

A somewhat funny and annoying incident... So this coworker came over and go, hey that's your new toy? (my Air) and immediately proceeded to take the screen off! I go wow-wow, what are you doing. :rolleyes:
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,043
114
Canada, eh?
Well, Apple's strength is looking at what's on the market and making something that both appeals to the masses and works really well..

They have a particular vision for how things should work, and they execute to that vision relentlessly. If it doesn't fit the vision, away it goes. If it doesn't work consistently and reliably, away it goes.

They would not release a touch screen MacBook Air unless they felt that it worked really really well. So far the answer seems to be "we don't think it would work" but I'm sure somewhere deep inside Apple is a lab where they are testing touchscreen-enabled laptops and maybe even iMacs.

Will it happen one day? Maybe. Microsoft is hedging on yes, hence the release of Surface Pro and so many other touch screen devices made by Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, Dell, Sony, HP, etc. Microsoft has had some successes and failures. Each of those companies is trying a different approach to answer the question "can my laptop be a tablet too?" Cynics would say they're just throwing different things at the wall to see which would stick. That might be a fair assessment. However, this is not the market Apple likes -- they want a sure bet with proven technology that they can run with.

OS X is not particularly touch-enabled. On the other hand, Mission Control and Launchpad look like they are designed for a touch interface. Maybe Apple is slowly working in features so that one day, when the technology and markets are ready, it will finally make sense.

It's possible that Apple already has a solution in mind. Windows 8 has set up the public perception that "there are touch screen computers out there, but some of them are pretty crappy." If you think about it, this is exactly the situation where Apple likes to step in with its solution. You could just picture Apple saying "Surface tries to do this but fails. So do all these other guys. Nobody has it right yet! Here's our solution. We think this will work."

We'll find out eventually...