The next decade of Mac OS X

“Steve Jobs launched the initial 10.0 version of Mac OS X in March 2001, describing it as a platform Apple would use over the next fifteen years, or roughly the same period of time the ‘classic Mac OS’ had been used to power the Macintosh at the time,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider. “When he said that, Jobs also likely had in mind that NeXT, which built the operating system that Mac OS X was built on, was itself 15 years old in 2001 (having existed since his departure from Apple in 1986).”

“While the user interface of Mac OS X Lion (and its iOS sibling) continues to drift toward simplicity, its underpinnings are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with support for new code parallelism, managed by Grand Central Dispatch, to take advantage of multiple cores and new types of processor cores, as well as newer storage technologies (such as SSD) which require new ways of working with data to fully optimize their advantages,” Dilger reports. “At the same time, Apple has finally gotten to the point where it can put down a series of outdated APIs (notably Carbon, the procedural development tools inherited from the classic Mac OS) and focus exclusively on modern 64-bit Cocoa, just as iOS devices have.”

Dilger reports, “Although Apple began the last decade by branching out into general purpose devices with the then new iPod (something that subsequently quickly overtook the Mac in sales volumes), it closed the decade with the vast majority of its unit sales (including half of its iPods) being driven by iOS, the mobile edition of Mac OS X.”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. I don’t know about Lion, but it’s about time iOS received a folder management system. Or a big folder where files can be transferred in and out of and apps have access to. iOS devices account for 75% of Apple’s gross revenues so without the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple will be smaller than Google is now. Think about it.

        1. Read the f**ing article dumb nuts. Apple are changing the way we use computers and mobile devices. You won’t need folders to manage your information.
          OS X and iOS will become more and more integrated and the OSes more and more efficient.
          Remember – skate, puck, going to.

          1. I’d like direct file access if only to have full ownership of my in-app purchases. Having to re-download purchases every time I reinstall an app doesn’t feel like ownership.

  2. HFS is pretty long in the tooth. I’m hoping since Snow Leopard was billed as an “under the hood” upgrade and Lion was a “features” upgrade that perhaps we’ll see an move to ZFS or something similar in the next release. From what I’ve read if the File System gets overhauled it will extend OSX’s life by many years.

  3. Apple can start by fixing Safari, which is the most unstable version I have seen including the original Public Beta.

    Second, it can stop hiding things that were visible in previous versions. My Mac Pro is not Buffy’s iPhone and I don’t wish for it to become a twinkie iToy.

    Third, a touch interface is a different animal from a handheld touch screen. Stop effing up the Mac interface.

    Finally, I would like to see ZFS licensed and put into the next major release.

      1. @Stephen….
        I totally agree. Lion has SERIOUS issues. It’s no longer possible using Spotlight to easily find files you seek, Auto save is a solution to a problem that didn’t really exist or possibly the wrong solution to an occasional problem. It actually feels like a “work around” now to use Text Edit or Preview…truly a weakly thought out path by Apple.
        I’ve had to turn OFF all the iOS like features in Lion just to use it since by accident you can suddenly be in a different screen. It’s a very wrong headed idea that a desktop should be just like a handheld device. I GET that this feels like skating to where the puck will be…gestural computing..but it is NOT WELL EXECUTED. It would have been truly innovative and game changing if it had been…but the complete paradigm shift it represents is JUST LIKE FINAL CUT X…it’s not’s not ready for the real world. A genuine step back from the polish and professionalism of previous Apple releases.

    1. Raptors… I think that would be a good choice for Mac OS XI (eleven). Eagle, falcon, hawk, etc. (and all the sub-species of each).

      I think the “Mac OS” will have a MAJOR change for the next release, and it will be as significant going from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X. For one thing, it needs to become completely “resolution independent” so that it can use higher pixel density displays than the current max of about 130 pixels per inch. Some GUI elements, such as the Dock and LaunchPad, are already resolution independent. Other parts of the GUI, such as the Menu Bar and text in dialog boxes, are currently sadly resolution “dependent”; they are dependent on pixel size, and are getting too small for comfort at 130 PPI. We can’t have “retina” displays on Mac, until this change happens.

      1. Problem is, how to automatically scale menus, window elements, etc?

        With iOS devices it would be simple: the screen resolution and physical dimensions are known. With OSX, unless you have an iMac or Macbook of some kind, the OS knows the resolution of the attached screen(s) but not physical size, so you can’t easily draw a window that’s exactly 150mm wide by 70mm high (yes, it makes more sense to use metric; you can’t easily describe pixel-fine measurements in fractions of an inch).

        Monitors don’t report physical dimensions, and while the system might be able to detect make and model, Apple really doesn’t want to maintain a database of all possible monitors that might be connected.

        1. What you describe as a “problem” is not that different from the current situation using older “multi-sync” displays, such as CRTs. Such displays do not have “native” fixed-size pixels, so the OS does not know what is an optimal setting. It uses a “safe” setting as the default, and the user adjusts it as desired. If a non-Apple display does not report is physical size, the OS will use something reasonable as the default starting point.

          > how to automatically scale menus, window elements, etc?

          I envision one high-level setting. There is an equivalent setting right now, and that is the Resolution setting in System Preferences Displays pane. The problem is that it is very incremental (not “smooth”), and with most current displays, pixels are large enough to make most settings, except the one “native” resolution setting, look noticeably “fuzzy.”

          With resolution independence (as I see it), instead of selecting discreet resolutions such as 1440×900 or 1920×1080, there could be a single slider bar control; the user can use it to smoothly (not incrementally) adjust how large things appear on screen to any level. With “retina” displays (and those microscopic pixels that can’t be seen individually), it would look good at any setting because “native resolution” would become meaningless. Even at the current 130 PPI max, it would look reasonably good.

          Most users would be fine with that one setting, but there should be an “Advanced” button. It would bring up a window with multiple slider bars to “fine-tune” the size of GUI element, such as Menu Bar, Dock, Finder icons, system text, dialog boxes, etc, plus a “Reset” (to default) button (to return the advanced settings to what Apple considers optimal). Applications can have their own “advanced” settings, as they do now.

  4. I love Dilger’s stuff, but this article is deceptively titled as “the next decade of Mac OS X.” If all that happens is a continuation of existing trends, which I think is a fair summary of his story, Mac OS X won’t last for a decade. There needs to be some visualization of what will happen to the operating system as a result of competing input and storage technologies.

  5. I hope they don’t kill interprocess communication like thru Apple events. I’d like an AppleScript interface, or maybe a new and better tool, appear as a common feature in future apps. I’m getting the impression that cocoa scriptability is going to get deprecated. That would be such a horrible waste.

    1. Yes AppleInsider is a well managed site…kinda shows why THIS site is not…it’s snarky (which is sometimes funny) and now just SO chock full of annoying pop up ads…jeebus people…really? THIS is where you want to get your Apple info?
      Plus the occasional forays into political baiting? AND the anonymity of the site owners? Really?
      MDN is honestly just average…but frankly the people behind it…no respect for them at all.

  6. I am a pro user of Apple products since the Mac Plus.

    I cannot use my iPad for anything work related, because I cannot manage files. One file at a time, u must be kidding.

    And don’t lecture me about apps that manage files. I have 450 apps on my iPad including all mainstream apps.

    I can see how Android can move into that market without even trying hard with a decent file system.

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