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OS X and iOS

Apple have released the first developer preview of OS X Mountain Lion. It looks like OS X Mountain Lion will essentially be the same as OS X Lion, but with a few more features from iOS. It looks like in the next few years, the two operating systems could merge. That seems to be what Apple is hinting to everyone, by removing the Mac branding from OS X in the about screen in the image below.

I have my doubts on whether OS X and iOS will merge completely. That is because Macs have quad-core processors and 500GB+ hard drives, as well as large HD screens while an iPhone usually has 16GB of flash storage and a 3.5-inch touch screens. However, that could happen and  I do think Apple will eventually merge the user interfaces of the two platforms one day which, to the average user, is essentially the same thing. I wouldn’t be that surprised if Apple brought Mission Control to iOS 6. I couldn’t think of how Exposé could be bought to the tiny iPhone screen but putting Mission Control on that screen shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

I also think Apple will make a miniature version of Dashboard for the iOS devices at some point because while some people probably don’t use that feature, I do and it has some useful widgets. However, I think some changes will be made to this feature at some point in the future. I think the Launchpad and the Dashboard will probably merge into one screen. Basically, I think the iOS homescreen will get widgets. That is one of the things holding it behind Android and while I love my Mac and other Apple products, I don’t like the seemingly infinite grid of icons as the default user interface, which is one reason I use an Andriod phone.

One other change I’m expecting to see in future OS X releases is that Apple will move the Launchpad to the desktop. At first, people will probably have the option to turn that feature off but I would actually like to have the Launchpad showing when I’m only looking at my desktop. Besides, saving documents to your desktop in nearly any operating system can slow it down. I also expect to see more use of full screen applications on the Mac. By that, I mean that some applications on the Mac will open in full screen by default. Some software, such as iTunes, can be set to open up in full screen by default. I have set that on my Mac by simply clicking the full screen button. Now, when I open iTunes, it opens in full screen because it remembers my previous choice. However, when I open up a new Safari window for example, it is set by default to open up on the desktop. I think that we can expect that to change, possibly in OS X Mountain Lion.

Another change I think Apple could make before OS X and iOS merge is allowing iOS users to download apps from places other than the App Store. Obviously, people will have their doubts on whether this will happen but I think it could. However, if Apple do merge iOS and OS X, I don’t think Mac users will be forced to use the App Store. I can’t see Apple allowing Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to show up on the App Store. Loads of people I know on Macs use Google Chrome and if I can’t have Firefox on my Mac, I will not be able to properly test code for web pages I write and while most people use Chrome, I know there are some people who still use Firefox because it was one of the best browsers two years ago and some people just don’t want to switch browsers. Therefore, if Apple want to merge the two operating systems, the only option I see is to allow iPhone users to download apps from third party sources and websites, or at least to allow people to add sources from other websites to the App Store.

One more change I expect to see, hopefully in OS X Mountain Lion, is for Apple to sort out the gestures for things such as activating mission control on the Magic Mouse. I don’t know if other people have the same problem as I have, but I find that two finger double-tap gesture really awkward for activating Mission Control and I’m not going to use the F3 key for that. However, after Apple make those changes and a few more final changes to unifying the touch gestures across the trackpad, Magic Mouse and touch screens, I think Apple will be ready to merge OS X and iOS, or at least have one name for all the operating systems.

Please feel free to write down your thoughts of what Apple will do and post them in the comments below.

Posted on Wednesday 22nd February 2012 - Leave a comment