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The next MacBook Pros need these features from the iPad Pro

The new MacBook Pro got the iPad Pro's mini-LED display with ProMotion. But there are more features I'd like to see make the leap.

The M1 iPad Pro, released in May, still has a few tricks the MacBook Pros don't have.
Scott Stein/CNET

Apple just revamped the MacBook Pros at its latest October event, adding a ton of features, restoring some classic ports, bringing back MagSafe and removing the Touch Bar for good. Look closely and you can see some iPad Pro features making the jump to the Mac this time: mainly, the display. The Mini LED, ProMotion-enabled 120Hz Liquid Retina XDR display on the latest MacBook Pros looks essentially similar to what the M1 iPad Pros have.

But there are also some things iPad Pro still has that I'm surprised haven't also come over. One's a reach, but two are pretty obvious.

Now playing: Watch this: New MacBook Pro: MagSafe returns

Face ID and Center Stage camera

The MacBook Pro's notched display has a new 1080p camera, but it doesn't have the whole TrueDepth camera package of the most recent iPads. That's a shame, on several levels.

Center Stage, a wide angle camera technology that digitally zooms in to follow your face during FaceTime or Zoom (or any other compatible app), is extremely helpful... especially at further-off distances. A laptop seems like a pretty good application.

Face ID, while I don't love it on the iPhone, is pretty useful on the iPad. I find it gets me logged in and into sites a lot faster than Touch ID, but I also wouldn't ever trade it for Touch ID on a laptop. I'd prefer it as another option (also, the TrueDepth camera has Portrait Mode video, which looks pretty nice so far on calls).


Center Stage turns on and off and even zooms in (I'm pointing to the setting on Zoom).

Scott Stein/CNET


Apple's laptops still, to this date, don't have cellular connectivity. In 2021, that's pretty weird. I don't think I'd ever need cellular on my own laptop, but I'm not sure why a MacBook can't get 5G. The iPhone has 5G and so does the iPad Pro (the iPad Mini has it too, although not mmWave flavor). All the other iPads have LTE options. Adding 5G at some point would make a lot of sense, if only for business reasons.


MacBooks only come with one keyboard, unlike iPads.


A detachable keyboard and a convertible design

The iPad may never become a Mac. And the Mac may never become an iPad. Fine. I get it. But I still love how the iPad Pro can be snapped in and out of an excellent keyboard and flexed into either a drawing-based tablet mode or a laptop mode on the fly. 

There's another reason why that concept appeals to me: It means the keyboard is replaceable. If keys wear out or break down, a new keyboard accessory could be picked up. It's just strange to me that keys, these things we pound on all the time, are bonded to our laptops and can't easily be swapped for other options as needed. I can change up my iPad Pro keyboard to other designs and manufacturers easily. It's nice to do.

And as far as making a touchscreen, Pencil-compatible Mac... we're overdue for that, too.