Are iOS and OS X heading towards a merger?

“I made a comment a while back, almost a joke really, that when iOS made it to version 9, that would be the end of it,” E. Werner Reschke writes for TGAAP. “Why? Because iOS 10 would become iOS X and we would then see the culmination of what Apple has been doing for since the exit of Scott Forstall, replaced with Johnny Ive’s as lead OS dude — one OS that works on both desktop and mobile devices.”

“Interestingly enough this is where Microsoft started with Windows 8, or at least tried, by making Windows an OS that worked on desktops, to Surface, to smartphones, functioning with minor differences between devices. Of course this has been an utter failure, and Microsoft is racing to Windows 10 as fast as they can,” Reschke writes. “But before dismissing this concept completely, perhaps Microsoft has only shown poor execution and not poor strategy.”

“When and how would this type of transition work may be unclear, but the why is fairly obvious,” Reschke writes. “For both Apple and their developers, it is much easier to build and support one OS than two, and moving iOS developers upstream to a desktop-level world would benefit Apple and its users immensely.”

Read more in the full article here.

42 Comments

    1. He lost me at, “since the exit of Scott Forstall, replaced with Johnny Ive’s as lead OS dude”

      Jony Ive is not the lead OS dude, he’s lead designer of both software and hardware. Craig Federighi is the lead OS dude. And the reason for combining both groups into one, is making sure they are at the core the same, supporting the same technologies and features. This is what allows for something like Continuity and Handoff.

  1. I seriously doubt this. The mouse-less interface of iOS is dramatically different than the desktop OS. I see no reason to merge these (other than for Apple to rid itself of Intel- but that would require rewriting every Mac app for iOS- not an easy or cheap task). Apple may yet sell iOS (multi-user?) laptop, but the Mac isn’t going anywhere…

  2. The OSes don’t need to merge. All developers have to do is have desktop and mobile apps that work together, don’t use different file formats, and have the same features or at least don’t strip out features from desktop when opening in iOS.

    1. LaunchPad is one of the quickest ways to open an app, if not the quickest–assuming you have a trackpad. Beyond that, it’s just a feature, as says nothing about the relationship between OS X and iOS.

    1. Steve did speak about this, and he made it very clear that it WON’T happen. The reason that iOS succeeded where Windows tablets failed is that Apple didn’t try to shoehorn the Mac OS into a device that wasn’t appropriate for it.

      -jcr

  3. It may happen (a “merging”), but ONLY at the “core” of the OS. At the user interface level, each type of Apple computing device will continue to have an interface that is optimized for that class of device. Mac with a keyboard and mouse (or equivalent), no touchscreen. Hand-held iPhone and iPad (and iPod touch) with touchscreen. Apple TV with a simple remote control. Etc. Even Apple Watch (which is not a separate computing device) has an interface that is optimized (distinct from other Apple devices). The no longer used “click wheel” interface was an optimized interface for iPods.

    Apple will NOT create a product with a “kludge” interface.

    1. OS X and iOS are already the same under the hood and have been since the very first iPhone.

      And they will (hopefully) always be different on the surface with each having an interface appropriate for the hardware it runs on (as you have already said.)

        1. They most certainly do have the same microkernel and underlying subsystems. Just watch the original introduction of the iPhone then each subsequent wwdc keynote. iOS and OS X have the same core but they strip out unnecessary systems in each and add appropriate systems to fulfil the goals of the two different uses.

            1. Depends on how you define hood, very different cars can use the same engine but that engine can be very different beasts to the end user depending on whether it has a sport bias, 4 wheel drive bias or fuel efficiency bias or overall compromise between them, not to mention all manner of tweaks and additions to add value or abilities.

              As for the future they will inevitably get closer and closer as much as possible, the biggest initial barrier to that having been chip speed, memory and power ‘heavy’ services. As those become less of an issue and they already have massively then mainly the interface (as mentioned elsewhere) will be substantially different between most devices. Clearly the watch or similar limiting devices that enter the system will start that process again with stripped down but maturing versions of the core OS.

          1. “Same” means identical. “They are not EXACTLY the same” means they are different. As I said, the two system share technologies, but they are each created and maintained for their respective class of computing device. However, Apple can continue to “merge” technologies where it makes sense.

            1. Your above post made it sound as if iOS and OS X are different operating systems that only share certain technologies, when in fact, they are the *same* operating system that have technologies and services removed or added as needed.

              The original post was about what’s under the hood. They both are in fact running the same core code base. There are changes on top of that for each and every device (and not just between iOS and OS X, but even every iOS device has its own distribution version… there’s no reason to send out TouchID code for devices that don’t have TouchID.)

              Apple has one Core OS group (The group that develops Darwin; BSD layer, Kernel, low-level OS functions; process scheduling, file system, networking stack, security protocols, etc.). Both iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 are based on the SAME version of Darwin. (This is actually the first time that the latest releases of iOS and OS X are based off the same version of Darwin. Previously, OS X was always one version behind.)

  4. Enough of these dumbass articles about iOS and OS X becoming one! If or when it happens, it won’t be because some clueless analyst who has been having wet dreams about an OS merger says it will happen. It will happen when Apple wants it to. Merging the OS’s for the sake of doing so would be stupid. Screw the version numbers. Apple can ditch using version numbers at any time and start using a different naming scheme.

  5. Interesting idea, but no matter how you slice it, no single codebase will fit the pantheon of Apple hardware.

    There has already been plenty of convergence of interface, but the goal is seamless interoperability among device families while coding for the strengths of each type of device.

    Ultimately, pocket computers, tablets, and desktop computers are different tools used for different but overlapping jobs. Microsoft has demonstrated the downside of forgetting this on so many levels.

  6. I would suspect they will someday be the same core functionality with different interface components. Windows 8 could have been a great success had the interface been “right”, but instead Microsoft said, “here’s the new look; you’re going to use it, and you’re going to like it.” Didn’t work out so well. Apple’s approach seems to be incremental steps toward one another. Much less dictatorial and agitating.

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