Forget touchscreen MacBooks, Apple - give me an iPadBook

Stock photo of a thinking man imagining what a combination of the iPad and MacBook would look like.
(Image credit: Apple, Shutterstock)

If you're a seasoned TechRadar reader, you might already know that our Core Tech Managing Editor (also my boss), the lovely Matt Hanson, recently ran an article about how Apple should produce a touchscreen MacBook.

This comes following a report from Bloomberg noting that Apple’s engineers are reportedly working on a touchscreen laptop for release as early as 2024, most likely in the form of a new MacBook Pro with a flashy OLED display. Current CEO Tim Cook has yet to comment on this, but I would like to publicly address this article to him; consider it a plea of sorts.

As Matt astutely noted in his piece, Steve Jobs was famously against the idea of touchscreens on Apple laptops. While I agree with Matt’s conclusion that the late, great Apple founder didn’t foresee the manner in which 2-in-1 touchscreen laptops would proceed to take the world by storm, I actually agree with ol’ Stevie here; Apple shouldn’t make a touchscreen MacBook.

Now, anyone who knows me personally will be able to attest that I am no fan of Apple. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that I’m one of the titular ‘haters’ from the headline of Matt’s article. But while I don’t like Apple, I do like the MacBook - it’s the best thing the company has ever produced, one of the best laptops in the world, and it’s gone from strength to strength since the introduction of Apple’s own M1 and M2 processors.

This is a sentiment shared by much of the TechRadar team; whatever your opinion of Apple, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are simply incredible devices. But that’s exactly why they don’t need touchscreens; we labeled the 2021 M1 model of the MacBook Pro as our favorite laptop of 2022 in the TechRadar choice awards.

It’s simply that good - not a single laptop released in 2022 could beat it, touchscreen or not. Adding touch support to that MacBook would be over-egging the pudding; it’s just not necessary, and all it’ll do is drive up the already-expensive asking price.

The MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 2022 laptop open and facing forwards

(Image credit: Future)

The space between MacBooks and iPads

It’s also somewhat comical to me to suggest that the MacBook Pro (or Air) needs a touchscreen when iPads exist. The 2022 models of the iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad 10.9 can already utilize a detachable keyboard and wireless mouse to effectively become dinky touchscreen laptops, so it’s not like Apple doesn’t already have a horse in that race.

In fact, the introduction of a touchscreen MacBook Pro becomes even sillier an idea when you consider the general mission statement of 2-in-1 laptops; they’re usually super thin-and-light (like some of the best ultrabooks) with a heavy focus on portability and versatility. Sounds more like a MacBook Air than a MacBook Pro, no?

Sure, you might not want to use iPadOS, and I wouldn’t begrudge you that choice at all - it sucks, if you ask me. macOS is the far superior operating system for typical laptop work, whether you’re an office worker or a video editor.

I can see the value of touchscreen laptops in general, too; I’m a huge fan of HP’s Spectre x360 series, and I regularly use a 2-in-1 laptop for work and play when I’m on the go. I don’t share Jobs’ opinions of touchscreens, but I do maintain that MacBooks aren’t the place for them.

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) being used with a Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil

(Image credit: Future)

Enter the… iPadBook?

If Apple is intent on making touchscreen laptops, it’s time for a new product line. Slapping touch functions onto a MacBook Pro is a half-measure. A touchscreen laptop from Apple should be something entirely new: I’m talking a compact form factor and 360-degree hinge, possibly with a garaged stylus to take full advantage of that touch display.

It doesn’t need to be a huge departure from the design ethos that Apple has sat calmly on for years. There are plenty of convertible laptops that incorporate clean, sleek designs into their hybrid chassis. With M2 (or perhaps M3, by the time it arrives) silicon powering it, this could feasibly become one of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops ever.

What would this new device be called? iPadBook is definitely a bit clunky, and implies that it runs iPadOS - we don’t want that. iBook, perhaps? But then we’re dropping the ‘Mac’ branding, and we’ll certainly want this new laptop to run macOS. MacBook Touch? Perhaps. MacBook 360, MacBook Flex, MacPad? Now we’re talking.

That’s why I am now speaking directly to you, Apple CEO Tim Cook. Please don’t take the easy way out and simply bung a touchscreen into next year’s MacBook Pro. You’re better than that; give us something new and exciting! I'll be waiting!

(If you are not Apple CEO Tim Cook, I’m personally offended that you read this article. It wasn’t for you. Please go and read something else.)

Christian Guyton
Editor, Computing

Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.