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A leaker has claimed that Apple is working on a version of macOS exclusive for the M2 iPad Pro, with it expected at some point in 2023.
One of the leading complaints surrounding the iPad is its lack of desktop-class software support. There have been constant calls for Apple to port not just Final Cut Pro, but also a full version of macOS to the iPad.
Leaker Majin Bu's sources have shared that Apple is working on a "smaller" version of macOS exclusively for the M2 iPad Pro. It is said to be codenamed Mendocino and will be released as macOS 14 in 2023.
Testing is being done with a 25% larger macOS UI so it is suitable for touch. However, apps run on the product would still be iPad-optimized versions, not macOS ones.
It isn't clear why Apple would move the iPad to a macOS interface in a half-step like this. Those clamoring for macOS on iPad do so for the software more than the interface.
Rumors about software testing should always be taken with a grain of salt. Very little, if any, detail ever leaks out about Apple's software plans.
Rumors have been floating around about macOS on iPad for more than a decade, and rumors about the original iPad said that macOS was a possibility before that device's release. Also, Apple likely has versions of macOS running on iPads for internal testing and configuration. This leaker could have seen an iPad in a debug state rather than an actual operating system.
The other possible explanation is this wasn't macOS at all. Apple could be working to bring iPadOS even closer to macOS by adding a Menu Bar and other Mac-like interactions. It already introduced a Mac windowing feature in iPadOS 16 called Stage Manager, this could be the next iteration.
Majin Bu also suggests that the exclusivity to M2 iPad Pro could be a marketing push. If the feature is only available on that iPad, more people would buy it.