Over the years, many have speculated over the possibility of Apple merging their two popular platforms: iOS and macOS. Microsoft offers touch-compatible Surface devices, and Apple added mouse support to iOS. Apple also delivered the ability for the Mac to run iPad apps on Big Sur. So why not just merge the two into one operating system and achieve the ultimate in iOS and macOS integration?
Apple denies a desire to combine them
Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly denied any intention to combine the platforms. But recent rumors surfaced that Apple wants to bring them more closely together. The key difference between the older denials and the new rumors is the appearance of the M1 chip in both Macs and iPads. When both a desktop and an iPad are running the same hardware, users start asking “what gives?” Why can’t I run the desktop version of my favorite software on my iPad—especially when iPad apps can now be run on the Mac?
Apple designs for human input
For years, Apple has made the case that Mac apps are cumbersome to use with a touch interface for any length of time. They’ve called the effect “gorilla arms.” They mean that if you want to be Tom Cruise in Minority Report, then you will get tired in a hurry.Mac apps are cumbersome to use with a touch interface for any length of time. Click To Tweet
Consider the experiment that they’ve been running with the Macbook Pro’s Touch bar. It is very difficult to use for more than just a quick tap. The reason is that you can’t exactly keep your eyes on the screen and the Touch bar at the same time.
When you use your iPhone, you are looking right at it. But most of the macOS interface is designed to have your hands resting on the keyboard and mouse. The iPad, however, uses a philosophy of input that prioritized directly manipulating its controls on the screen. So even though we now have mouse and keyboard compatibility, touch is still the priority. These distinct systems have the opportunity to shine because of their distinctiveness.
Will Mac apps be cross platform?
Here is where the real possibilities lie. If you could deploy Final Cut Pro on the Mac and have it “morph” on the iPad, I think you’d make a lot of people happy. If the same app could change its “skin” based on the device that it was running on, consumers would be getting a much better value.
There’s plenty of functionality that Photoshop on the Mac offers that Photoshop on iOS does not. But developers have always struggled with trying to write two versions of the app for different platforms. I believe that distinct operating systems, with flexible apps, is the path that Apple will pursue. And the main reason is shared hardware. Now that mobile devices and desktop can both ship with 16GB of RAM, the doors will be wide open to bring a whole new generation of apps that can run on either platform. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the technology to do it arrive at WWDC 2021.
What do you think? Will we see an iOS and macOS integration on June 7th at WWDC2021?