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A Unified Experience 7 October 2013

Posted by Oliver Mason in Apple.
Tags: , , ,

Today my friend Zettt posted the following on Twitter: So many people don’t know the difference between their Mac and iOS device. “Do I have to buy app X again for iOS?”. I flippantly replied about my projection for Apple’s next step, which I thought I’d write up in a bit more detail:

Apple is all about the user experience. Things just work out of the box, and the user doesn’t have to think much. You buy an app, and via the cloud you can download updates and copies to your other iOS devices. But there is one jarring line: the distinction between iOS and Mac OS X. If I have an Apple computer and a tablet, why are they so different? There are a number of apps that co-exist on both systems, but I still have to buy them separately, and also link them separately. While my iPhone and my iPad are almost the same in user experience, my MacBook Air stands out like a sore thumb.

My projection is that the two platforms will converge sooner or later. Why confuse the everyday user with having two separate systems? Two distinct App Stores? Either there will be a way to run iOS apps on Mac OS X (a bit like the simulator, only for real), or, more likely, iOS and OS X will merge at some point.

A fully universal app will then not only run on both iPad and iPhone, but also on any OS X device. You buy it once, and it runs on all your machines within the Apple ecosystem. That almost sounds like the original Java promise, where ‘everywhere’ means ‘any Apple device’.

But before it comes to that, my guess is that developers will be encouraged to have OS X versions of their iOS apps. And presumably not charge for them separately. Because, Apple is about hardware, and software is just a cheap commodity. If you want to be featured (and rake in the cash in the AppStore) you better make sure you have an OS X version as well. You know it makes sense: users can then buy any Apple hardware and run your software. Don’t worry about switching from the iPad to a MacBook, you can take your software with you.

This is of course pure speculation. But I somewhat think it would make sense to combine iOS and OS X in the long run. With the introduction of different screen sizes and AutoLayout developers are already weaned off hardcoding screen dimensions. And Apple has got a ton of experience in transitioning CPUs, as evidenced by the switch to Intel a while back. So why not switch from Intel to A7? Or just have iOS apps running on an A7 interpreter. It would open up a new range of Apple computers to casual users whose barrier to entry is dramatically lowered: they have all the software they need already, and no longer need to think what OS they’re running.



1. Chris Wild - 7 October 2013

There is often a world of difference between developing an ‘app’ and a game, especially across platforms. Even similar ones like iOS and osx.

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