What cards does Apple have in its hand regarding the future of its hardware and software? If various reports from across the Macverse are to be believed, the cards have already been laid out on the table for us to place our bets.
If I were to make a wager, I’d ask for advice from one of those novelty Magic 8-Balls, and I’m willing to bet that the answer it would give me is All signs point to yes.
Let’s not forget, however, the words that country singer Kenny Rogers gives us in his song “The Gambler” which advises you to never count your money while you’re sitting at the table because there will be enough time for counting when the dealing’s done.
So let’s take a closer look at each of the cards in Apple’s hand to explore the answer, shall we?
Merging Mac OS and iOS?
A question asked by many in the tech world as of late is whether Apple will merge Mac OS and iOS. It’s a point of contentious debate and on the Low End Mac Facebook group. The response is mixed from members who either like or lament the idea.
Never mind the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook just last week quashed any rumors that Mac OS and iOS would be merged any time soon. For all we know, this could be simply a ploy by the CEO to trick people and throw them off the trail.
Simply put, the joker card, if you will. The first card in Apple’s hand.
iOS Apps on Macs?
We only need look no further than to Apple’s “Project Marzipan” to see where the company is heading. What exactly is it? Well, as iDrop News reports, it is a plan to allow all iOS apps to run simultaneously and seamlessly on Macs.
This card would be the king of clubs, symbolizing Apple’s attempt to bring Mac OS into the iOS club, iOS being the current king in their land of operating systems.
Though it’s not exactly the same idea that Macworld contributor Dan Moren had in mind in his piece, The Once and Future OS for Apple, it comes close to what he foresees happening and is a first step in the process of the same software platform on different hardware.
The End of the Mac as We Know It?
If you want to take it a step further, would iOS running on a Mac or a new unified OS signal the end of the Mac as we know it?
In a commentary piece back in December of last year on PCMag.com, writer John C. Dvorak wrote that Apple won’t continue to support two separate operating systems and that iOS is poised to replace Mac OS.
Dvorak posits that Apple’s notion of modern computing has already changed based on evidence he sees in the latest iPad Pro commercial that asks, What’s a computer?
And because Apple seems to promote its iOS devices front and center with Mac hardware pushed aside, he strongly feels that it’s the end of the line for the Mac.
It is interesting to note that Dvorak also mentions that Apple has been making strides to leverage its ARM processors, putting the focus yet again on iOS devices – and this was months before the report from Bloomberg that Apple would be moving its chip production in-house.
Maybe he’s onto something and not as crazy as he sounds!
Any 8 card from the deck would be the end of the Mac as we know it. But that’s if the game being played was Crazy Eights!
A Hybrid Touchscreen Mac?
Speaking of crazy, earlier this month, I discussed the possibility that Apple could be re-releasing the iconic iBook in the form of a new hybrid touchscreen-enabled notebook computer simply running iOS or a hybrid version of Mac OS and iOS (in essence, a unified operating system).
What would be the chance that a hybrid Mac notebook with a touch-based operating system was a Trojan horse leading to the new era of Apple computing?
And that, my friends, would be the ace card up Apple’s sleeve! Release a hybrid computer to give people a taste of things to come – a transition period before the inevitable big change.
ARM Processors Inside Macs?
The possibility of a hybrid Mac notebook is not so far off, considering that four days before my aforementioned story was published, the news came that Apple would be ditching Intel processors in favor of their own ARM processors by 2020.
In an article from 2012 by Cult of Mac writer John Brownlee, he surmised why you’ll never own a Mac with an ARM processor. Brownlee wrote, “As we transition into Apple’s post-PC world . . . there is next to no chance that Apple will replace Intel chips for ARM-based ones any time in the next five years.” He even said that the opposite would happen with Intel chips going into iOS devices.
Boy, was he ever wrong!
But if you read the full story and his extensive background information on ARM processors, with what we know now, it lends more credence to the reason why Apple would choose to move their chip production in-house and why they would possibly create a hybrid Mac running iOS or creating a unified OS for all of its hardware across the board.
According to the detailed information Brownlee provided on the subject, Apple’s chips are currently optimized for a mobile operating system like iOS, and a desktop operating system like Mac OS, at least in its current state, can’t yet run natively on ARM processors.
In its current state… But what if it were a hybrid version of macOS blended with iOS? Unification, here we come!
In fact, in that same article, it is mentioned that as far back as 2010, Apple was already beginning to explore porting Mac OS X to ARM processors. The top-secret project was given to an intern who was assigned the task of running Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard on an ARM processor. That intern eventually became an engineer with the company, and there is no word whether Apple is still pursuing the project, according to the story.
So what card represents the planned move by Apple to its ARM processors? This would be the queen of hearts since at the heart of every iOS device and Mac notebook or desktop computer is its processor.
iOS to the Forefront
To tie everything together, Michael Simon of Macworld wrote about how custom processors could make Mac notebook computers exciting again: “Apple hasn’t ignored the Mac, but it sometimes feels like it has due to a combination of Intel’s stagnancy and its own focus on iOS.”
His last thought on iOS represents Apple’s poker face in this card game, which has been showing for a couple of years now.
Apple putting its focus on iOS along with the devices that run it, making iOS apps run seamlessly on Mac OS, then moving to its own chips? If all of this “evidence” isn’t a telltale sign of things to come, then I don’t know what else to say.
And if I were a gambler, my bets are on Apple merging Mac OS and iOS, creating a unified operating system that runs on all their hardware with their ARM-based processors inside.
Welcome to the new era of Apple computing.
With all of Apple’s cards, we sort of get a clear picture into their future plans. And with their current hand out in plain view? It’s time for them to fold, walk away, and run. Because I’ve read their cards, called their bluff, the game is over, and I’m ready to start counting my money.
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