Will 2021 be the year Apple fans get their most wanted product?

Dreams can come true. And Apple's new M1 chip brings a product that fans have been asking for closer to reality.

Apple fans are a greedy bunch. Not content with the iPhone, iPad, and expensive headphones, these are products that don't exist -- fantasy unicorn products -- that they've been talking about for years.

Things like the Apple Car, or Apple VR goggles, or an iPad-like device that runs macOS.

Crazy ideas.

Or maybe not.

Let's come back to that macOS tablet for a moment.

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There's an interesting, rather glaring, divide when it comes to Apple's hardware ecosystem. On the one hand, you have Macs that are driven by keyboards, mice, and trackpads, and on the other hand, you have iDevices that have touchscreens and smart pencils.

It's an odd divide. And it begs the question why Apple doesn't have a touchscreen or pen-driven tablet that runs macOS.

Moving away from dreams to the cold, hard reality of technology, there are some good reasons. Tablets need to be thin and light, not emit hand-searing levels of heat, and have decent battery live and offer acceptable performance.

Building a device that achieves two or three of those is not hard, getting all four is hard.

Well, or it was.

The problem was that in order to make a Mac tablet, Apple was previously tied to Intel, and Intel chips always came with a performance/heat/battery life juggling act. The tablets out there that run Intel chips are on the whole an awkward compromise of the three.

But.

Apple now has M1.

Look at the performance and battery life of the fanless M1 MacBook Air and tell me that isn't a platform that wouldn't work as a tablet.

The power is there.

The battery life is there.

The thermal management is there.

The whole package is thin and light.

It all makes sense.

When I've had this discussion before, the argument usually comes back to "well, doesn't the iPad/iPad Pro do everything now?" No, it doesn't. If it did, Apple would have slung the whole Mac line into the dumpster.

People still need Macs. And a touch-based Mac would open up new markets, especially for the creative types, or enterprise folks who want the convenience of a tablet but the power of a laptop.

Will it happen? Who knows? But the pieces are now all there for Apple to build one.

Or maybe there's more money in expensive headphones that come with a weird carry case.