The iPad Pro and MacBook Air Need to Merge. Now

Apple just released two very good mobile computers in the new iPad Pro and the revamped MacBook Air. But, with the exception of the Apple logo, they're so different they might as well be made by different companies.

And that's the problem.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The new iPad Pro is all about speed, with its blazing A12X Bionic processor. It's primarily designed for touch input and the new Apple Pencil, though there's an optional keyboard that's just OK.

Meanwhile, the new MacBook Air delivers all the expected upgrades, including a Retina Display. It has a Touch ID sensor to log in, while the iPad Pro uses Face ID. And it has a touchpad, which the iPad lacks.

MORE: Apple MacBook Air (2018) Review

I get why Apple has wanted to keep the iPad Pro and MacBook product lines separate. But now that the company makes a chip powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with anything from Intel, it's time to start blurring the line between iPads and Macs.

In fact, according to our benchmarks, the iPad Pro's CPU is much faster than the Core i5 Y-Series processor in the new MacBook Air and even Core i7-powered laptops like the Dell XPS 13.

There's another big reason to converge the iPad and Mac. In this day and age, a laptop without a touch screen is downright anachronistic. I've seen kids walk up to MacBooks and try to touch the display and ask why it doesn't work; it's just expected — even on cheaper Chromebooks.

Moreover, Apple has the resources to combine the best aspects of macOS and iOS in a new user interface that's both easy to use and great for productivity.

MORE: New iPad Pro 12.9-inch Review

Just look at the new Photoshop coming to the iPad in 2019, which Apple previewed at its launch event. It's the real deal running on iOS. This is the operating system that will likely win out; Apple just needs to add some of the missing pieces from macOS, like a true desktop (when you need it), a persistent dock (in laptop mode) and better cursor control (yes, touchpad support).

Apple is working on bringing iOS apps to the Mac via UIKit, but that seems like a half step when the company should be making a leap forward. Apple makes the best tablet in the world, and arguably some of the best laptops. However, people don't want to carry around both devices.

Tim Cook famously said back in 2012 that "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know those things are not going to probably be pleasing to the user."

Now, over six years later, devices like the Surface Pro 6 prove that you can deliver a satisfying 2-in-1 device. Could Apple make a better one? Yes, and now it's time they did.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.