The discussion around macOS vs. iOS comes up every time Apple releases a new iPad Pro with hardware that the software seemingly cannot push. In my post WWDC reflections, an interesting idea came to mind on making the iPad more useful: What if Apple allowed Parallels and VMware to offer virtualization on iPadOS?
About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers has been managing an enterprise IT network since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, 100s of Macs, and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.
Before you rush to judgment, hear me out. iPadOS needs to continue to evolve past its iOS sibling in feature sets. The iPad Pro hardware is almost more powerful than it needs to be. Virtualization demands power and would open up iPadOS to a lot of compelling use cases for enterprise customers.
Let’s say you’re the type of person who likes to use an iPad for as many things as you can, but there are a handful of tasks that are either not possible on iPadOS or are too cumbersome. If Apple allowed virtualization on iPadOS, you’d have the option to open up Parallels or VMware, boot up macOS (or Windows), and use your attached Magic Keyboard like you had a full desktop computer. In addition, if iPadOS eventually gets better support for external monitors, it would be possible to have macOS in one window while running iPadOS in another.
If you’re someone who frequently travels or works in the field, having the simplicity of a highly portable device for when you’re away from your office would be a fantastic benefit. You would no longer have to think through “will I need a Mac” on this trip. You could take the iPad and it could become whatever you needed it to become.
Why not dual boot?
It’s certainly possible that Apple could allow the iPad hardware to dual boot between macOS and iPadOS, but I think the virtualization story is a better one for enterprise customers. It would make the iPad Pro one of the most versatile “computers” on the market because it could run every major operating system. It would become the perfect travel computer. I’ve not owned a desktop computer in a very long time (the early 2000s), but if I could use macOS while traveling on an iPad Pro, I would switch to an iMac immediately.
I firmly believe that allowing virtualization on iPad Pro would unlock the device for many new use cases and help justify the cost of the device. Right now, I find it hard to justify iPad Pro over iPad Air unless you want the 12.9-inch screen. However, suppose iPad Pro could become the catch-all device that gives you the flexibility of a desktop OS when the situation calls for it but also enjoy the lightness of iPadOS when your needs don’t require it. If the iPad Pro could virtualize macOS when needed, I believe it would only continue to grow in popularity in the enterprise market.