Tim Cook is right: Here’s why Apple merging iOS, OS X is a bad idea

“For the last few years, pundits and analysts have argued that Apple may eventually combine its mobile operating system iOS and its desktop operating system OS X,” Don Reisinger writes for Fortune.

“Both late last year and early in 2015, several reports suggested that the merger would begin on the iPad Pro, a tablet that at that time had yet to be announced. The rumors said that the iPad Pro would feature the touch integration of iOS with the power of OS X to create a higher-end tablet,” Reisinger writes. “While Apple did eventually announce the iPad Pro at a special press event last month, the company rebuffed hopes of an operating system merger. Instead, the iPad Pro runs on iOS 9 and takes advantage of some of its new features, including improved multitasking and split-screen view.”

“During an interview at BoxWorks, Box CEO Aaron Levie again brought up the issue with Cook. ‘We don’t believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile,’ Cook said, according to those in attendance. ‘We think it subtracts from both, and you don’t get the best experience from either. We’re very much focused on two,'” Reisinger writes. “Ian Fogg, an analyst at IHS… believes that combining the two operating systems would mean that Apple’s entire product lineup would ultimately suffer. ‘Apple believes offering optimized user experiences for each kind of device is better than delivering a single, lowest-common-denominator experience,’ he told Fortune.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Of course, Apple is right not to try to merge the two operating systems into one.

Now, is anyone in the market for a device that’s an OS X-powered MacBook when docked with its keyboard base and an iOS-powered iPad when it’s undocked?

Illustration from Apple's hybrid Mac-iPad patent application
Illustration from Apple’s hybrid Mac-iPad patent application


  1. Apple has a long history of saying they’re not doing something, and then doing that thing. I believe they’re merging the Operating Systems, but that they will do so gradually, and in both directions rather than trying to scale either one up or down.

      1. I can see the drones everywhere, and please forgive me if i do NOT care if they run on Android or iOS, they suck because they insult everyones privacy !!!

        That is military stuff sold to your neighbor. Do you really want that? Armed to death, yeah America! Now everybody?!
        Shooting more innocent neighbors by coincidence? More kids are violated by the rules of greed and money.

        Great, so there will be more room for me? Nope, BUT one good thing is: the poor people will have their home right next to your house and kids, from now on. That house will contain 15 people. Boom.
        They came from Mexico and Bosnia, Ukraine and Serbia. And Syria. You want that? We love those people as well, but the reason why they are so poor is because others are way way way too rich.

        Syria has a strong relation to Apple.

        But we are forced to ignore that. Why?

        Everything depends on everything in a globalized economy, the only thing that is left to make a difference is:

        • you and where you spend your money. Awesome but really cool somehow.

        It is harsh, I know.

    1. That makes total sense to me. The core has already been the same since the beginning. I am no expert but as a user what is surely inevitable as well as desirable is that while they stay separate in doing what each specialiases in best rather than spagetti code trying to cater for everything, that they increasingly work together seamlessly so that effectively you don’t notice that they are different operating systems. That’s where I see them coming together so while different at each end they will overlap in the middle where they work together where some sort of mutual or interchangeable file system will reside even if you don’t notice it directly. No idea how difficult that will be to achieve fully but it has to happen or the disadvantages of the Microsoft route will gradually be outweighed by the eventual advantages.

    2. To me Microsoft has the right strategy. The two operating system approach has its drawbacks. For starters, developers need to develop two different applications. It’s annoying, costly, and time consuming. Users suffer as they find when they jump from a desktop App to a mobile App, they have to learn how to use it. It’s stripped down big time, syncing content a lain in the butt, and so forth.

      What Microsoft has shown with Windows 10: how well it scales and Continuum, it makes Apples dual operating system look terribly dated.

      The problem for Apple is that, if this does become all about one operating system, their dominance in mobile will be threatened as Microsoft has a massive desktop installed base. With one operating system and good hardware, Microsoft could have the pendulum swung back in their favour, earing intonthe mobile customer base.

      And let’s not forget about Android. Google may be working on a single operating system as well. All this threatens Apple.

      If Apple rests on their laurels in this regard, sticking with a dual operating system for the next several years, they may be in trouble. It all depends on what Microsoft and Google do: how good their one operating systems are, how good the hardware is in comparison to Apple, and so forth.

      I also have to assume Apple is working on a single operating system as well, so the future is very much unwritten here. But one this is for sure: Windows 10 and Continuum, along with the Surface Book, has me yearning for a similar setup from Apple. Having the detached screen tablet switch into iOS from OS X isn’t going to cut it for many reasons.

      1. Writing apps for OS X and iOS actually allows developers to re-use a lot of their code in many cases. Windows 10 works for precisely the opposite reason than what you stated, and Windows 8 suffered because it tried to merge mobile and desktop experiences too quickly. Apple isn’t worried about losing their dominance in mobile to Microsoft yet, Google is still their main target. Google isn’t developing Android for desktop, they’re pushing Chrome OS for that. So… I dunno, man. You seem kinda wrong all over IMHO.

  2. I would be interested in something like this, but there would have to be some level of added hardware benefits when attached as well, such as an SLI bridge for every component, added battery, and automatic charging, transitioning of local data from apps compatible with both iOS and Mac OS X, as well as additional Mac-only storage on the base station, and other stuff I’m not even thinking of. It’s no easy challenge, and Microsoft showcased their mistake of assuming it would be easy. A hybrid device needs to be much more than a gimmicky sales pitch of saving money by getting a 2-in-1. It needs to be a revolutionary implementation unlike anything that’s been seen so far, and something that makes total sense for the end user, something people will want, need, and use, not something that gets in the way of computing by having touch screen and mouse/keyboard interfaces on an OS that was clearly not well thought out and sucks at both.

  3. I think ultimately it’s going to be more a case of not marging the GUI. I think they’re going to make the underpinnings closer and closer since they’re all doing fundamentally the same task. Sure there may be overlap and iOS may have stuff stripped out, but as long as the devices work well I don’t care if they’re merged or not. Whatever works best.

  4. If you look at that Apple patent, it looks nearly identical to the Surface Book. If you want to get conspiracy theorist, you might even say MS licensed this patent from Apple for their own Surface Book.

  5. Hybrid.. Adabtable os device … Been asking for this a long time..
    The new macbook is proof it can be dont beautifully !

    IOS need to have an accessible /visible file system…
    As it is now …Its a huge handicap in practicality and managiblty !

    1. Exactly!

      To use a car analogy, a combined desktop/mobile OS is like wanting a vehicle that’s both a car and a truck… like the old Chevy El Caminos and Ford Rancheros. Interesting vehicles with devoted fans, but never very successful makes. And with inherent limitations that kept them from being very good as either a car or a truck.

  6. Phil Schiller said no to larger iPhones and laughed at them. Without them today Apple would be cripple by Samsung. The iPad pro with it’s soft keyboard and pen was a Surface first. Apple is behind the curve on this.

    They didn’t deliver and so I’ll be buying a Surface Book because I can run either OS X or Windows.

    Sorry Apple, you’re wrong on this one. When in Notebook mode, you don’t touch the display. Cook even suggesting that means he’s out of touch and out of sync with what’s happening with the Surface Book.

  7. “Apple believes offering optimized user experiences for each kind of device is better than delivering a single, lowest-common-denominator experience,”

    Tell that to your Pages team, Tim.

    1. Touché

      All the same, their approach to hardware differs from their software development, which remains subordinate—the apps have to work across devices in order to produce a seamless user experience which is their ultimate goal.

      In a sense, Apple has been sacrificing their pro users left and right as they build a glorious road to a unified computing experience. Many of us with our scrolls and illuminated manuscripts are walled up in niches in what are sure to become crypts.

  8. Those of you that think Microsoft has the right idea, I would task you with doing this. Buy a Surface (any x86 version, not Surface RT). Get it up to date so that you can be sure that you have MIcrosoft’s absolute best effort in the space. Use it for a significant period of time. Run all of your applications on it. Truly let it “replace your laptop”. I suspect that in short order, you’ll find its achilles heel…

    At some point, you’ll have the device laying comfortably in your lap, trying to something that would feel quite comfortable on an iPad, and you’ll be thrown into a position where you need to manipulate a dialog or window that was designed to be operated with a mouse and keyboard. This will cumbersome and frustrating.

    A jack of all trades is a master of none. I just can’t see Apple doing a device like that. For me, the iPad is my “casual computing device”. It can do 9/10 of what I need a computer to do. It can replace my laptop in the sense that the tasks it doesn’t do well, are those that I’d rather be doing at a desk with two monitors.

    Remember too that iOS is a spinoff of OS X. It has been carefully tailored to make for an excellent, touch-centric experience. When you start trying to blend in the desktop apps that don’t make sense in that form-factor is when you start to get the kind of quality issues that Microsoft’s Surface suffer from.

    Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft has shown some compelling products recently, but I still think Apple has the right idea.

    1. I have done this experiment also.

      I enjoy iOS because the interface is so user friendly. But i’m frustrated with the limited access to a file system.

      I enjoy Windows on a tablet because I have full access to a file system. But I find the user experience on a tablet frustrating, I ended up buying a keyboard and mouse and also installing a mouse trackpad app which helped alot!

      The big thing that makes an experience for both great, is apps that have been developed with touch screen usability in mind.

      Like iOS until applications on Windows are developed with touch screens in mind will the Surface experience be even better than iOS.

  9. Come on you only have to use the Surface for a little while to see how wrong this is.

    The problem is not the hardware, it’s the lazy developers (and limited app development budgets) who think the same app should work for both tablet – with finger- and desktops with mouse. It just doesn’t work, it’s a crappy experience.

  10. I could see an Apple experience similar to Microsoft’s new feature Continuum on their new Lumia phones. When the phone. One UI when it’s just a phone, but when docked with a monitor keyboard and mouse/track pad input, it’s a desktop experience. It’s a pretty cool feature, but Apple could perfect it. Not only is iOS becoming more and more powerful, so is their ARM processor SoC. That would kill Microsoft desktops completely, because individuals iPhones or iPads (growing # everyday) is their desktop when docked. BAM!

    1. The idea, though unsuccessful for ASUS, has already be tried with their PADphone which is a smartphone that can be inserted into a tablet which can then be plugged into a keyboard with peripheral ports to make a 3 level experience depending on your needs.

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