Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Apple OS XI

So looking forward a bit, it is almost obvious that as some time in the future (likely summer 2017), iOS and Mac OS will merge into a universal Apple OS. iOS 8 and Mac OS X are already sharing some features and functionality so it is only logical that they will unify into a single operating system.  With the introduction of features like handoff, iPhone Cellular Calls in FaceTime and iMessage on both iOS and Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite, the lines are beginning to blur between mobile and desktop OS's. Last week's Windows 10 announcement would seem to indicate that Microsoft is ahead of the game with regards to OS unification but the lack of adoption of Windows Phone and almost their almost non-existent tablet presence tells otherwise. It seems easier to unify OS's when two vital branches of the device tree are just beginning to grow. Not so easy on two very major OS's who are trees on their own.

Apple has the daunting task of unifying two major OS's with millions of users on each. But why would they do this? Why unify OS's that are fine apart? It's simple. To enrich the computing experience of the user. That's it. Imagine being able to access files on the external hard drive hooked up to your 5K iMac on your iPhone natively. Not via a third party app or some awkward virtual environment but in real time and using a Finder-like interface. To some degree this is already possible via iCloud but only for certain file formats. This could potentially eliminate the need to have interfaces for device such as iTunes (for those who still sync devices).

The next two versions of iOS and Mac OS X will ultimately reveal Apple's intentions. My guess is that iOS 10 will be the last version of iOS and Mac OS 10.12 will be the last version of Mac OS X.
Apple OS XI (11) will be the first Apple wide unified OS that will run on all Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV and Apple Watch. Apple Watch may be a stretch but at this point in time, I have no doubt that Apple will find a way to ensure a unified and elegant experience on even a third-generation device (assuming a yearly update cycle) of such a small size. I have faith in Craig Federighi.