Following Apple’s announcement of the new MacBook Pro models today and the impressive looking Touch Bar, CNET have a fascinating interview (and timeline of Apple’s laptops from the original PowerBook through to the latest MacBook Pro models) with Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller, software engineering lead Craig Federighi and Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive.
Although the media focus is predominantly on the new Touch Bar, there are several interesting quotes in the article on why we won’t be seeing a combined or merged OS or hardware device from Apple that combines iPhone/iPad touchscreen functionality with the laptop format of the MacBook product line – Schiller said:
“We did spend a great deal of time looking at this a number of years ago and came to the conclusion that to make the best personal computer, you can’t try to turn MacOS into an iPhone. Conversely, you can’t turn iOS into a Mac…. So each one is best at what they’re meant to be — and we take what makes sense to add from each, but without fundamentally changing them so they’re compromised.”
I’ve agreed with this line of thought for a while and discussed this last year when Tim Cook said something very similar.
While it might be immediately obvious to some that the way you interact with a smartphone that fits in your hand is a completely different experience to how you interact with a computer while sitting at a desk, Microsoft’s (failed?) attempt at combining both of these usage styles into a single phone device with Continuum that you can use as a phone or plug into a dock and use as a desktop has always seemed to me to be a massive compromise. How you use a phone with a small screen and limited input capability is so completely and radically different from how you interact with a desktop computer with a keyboard, mouse, and large LCD screen — why you would even try to combine these two experiences into one device is just beyond me.
Anyway, I’m pleased to hear Apple reiterating on their understanding of how different devices have different capabilities. Until a radical new approach comes along for how you interact with your devices where the reduced physical size of a portable device is no longer a constraining factor, a phone is still best as a phone, and your desktop or laptop is still best as what they do. Even in this “Post-PC” era, there’s still a place for both.