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Since the new Macs have ARM chips, there is now access a build of macOS that technically could run on a device like, say, the iPad Pro? The architecture should be pretty much the same, I guess?

Clearly some tinkering would be required, but what are the main technical obstacles to it, even with the right skills and tools?

I suppose this would be something similar to what the Hackintosh community has been doing for over a decade with macOS on Intel computers. Only instead of creating Clover bootloader etc. to make macOS "think" it's running on a Mac, the same would be done on a jailbroken iPad, making macOS think that iPad is a Mac.

Obviously one would pair a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to get that desktop experience. Heck, maybe even a second monitor through the thunderbolt port on the iPad Pro?

I figure the coolest thing would be to have a dual-boot of both iOS and macOS on the same iPad. I guess virtualisation on top of iOS may also work, but I think the performance would be way better if running bare metal macOS.

Another cool idea, Imagine having macOS as a dual boot option on your iPhone 12. All you would need would be a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and an adapter to plug it into a TV, and your phone could be your computer to go wherever you needed it.

I am mainly talking about a fully function version of macOS here, with GUI, Bluetooth support, etc.

  • To whoever voted that this is opinion based: Anyone familiar with iOS jailbreaking, exploits, etc. could answer this based on evidence and facts regarding the architecture of these devices. – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Nov 20 at 1:10
  • Until somebody tries, all answers will just be opinions and thoughts. Discussing options and challenges on how to accomplish this might be worthwhile, they just don‘t fit into a Q&A format easily – nohillside Nov 20 at 5:51
  • @nohillside Someone has tried. twitter.com/qwertyoruiopz/status/1326470871213596672?s=19 Does that mean this can be reopened? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Nov 20 at 8:23
  • So go discuss it on twitter. – Solar Mike Nov 20 at 8:35
  • @SolarMike What's your logic here? The mod said it was opinion based until it's been tried. – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Nov 20 at 8:36
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Technically it is possible.

Apple made a Developer Transition Kit (DTK) available to developers back in June 2020 - i.e. the recently released M1 Macs were announced. This DTK runs macOS Big Sur on an A12Z CPU. This is the same CPU that the iPad Pro 2020 has.

The latest release of Big Sur still runs perfectly fine on the DTK, although a few things aren't perfect. For example the A12Z CPU does not contain the same virtualization functionality as the M1 - essentially making virtualization a no-go here. The M1 and the A12Z compared also has a lot of other differences - which are the cause of the big performance difference in running macOS on the two systems.

Besides the CPU itself, there are other things to take into account however - most importantly being drivers for the basic peripherals and bootloading - especially the signing of the operating system.

If Apple wanted to make macOS boot on iPads, those issues are very small and could relatively easily be overcome. After actually booting (i.e. getting the kernel running) - then comes the question of getting the actual graphical user interface running on the iPad. This involves having a suitable driver for the GPU - and drivers (which can be quite complex and involve a lot of high-level functionality) for things such as FaceID/TouchID, the flash drive, camera, audio (speakers/microphone), touch module, cell subsystem, etc.

If others wanted to try doing it, you would need a bootloading exploit to get the non-Apple-for-iPad-signed operating system to get accepted. Also you would need to acquire or create drivers for all those elements of the iPad.

Getting macOS to boot into a text-only command prompt on the iPad is probably feasible for outsiders within a reasonable time frame. Getting a full macOS working with support for all peripherals, Bluetooth mouse/keyboard and external Thunderbolt monitor - probably not something we'll see before long. Prediction is ofcourse always difficult, especially if it's about the future.

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