converge

Concept image: ajambrosino.com

Think back to 2006. Computers were, for most people, large plastic boxes that lived under desks with monitors and keyboards plugged into them. It’s hard to imagine now, but those of us using laptops were in the minority back then.

Smartphones existed, but the fact that you used one marked you out as a bit of a tech-head. Tablets were obscure devices that were used by, basically, no-one.

Today’s world is very different. Almost everyone has a smartphone, and tablet sales will soon dwarf  laptops. When non-techy friends ask your advice about what laptop to buy, the chances are that, after asking a few questions about what they want to do with it, you’ve advised at least half of them to buy an iPad instead.

In the face of this changing world, will it continue to make sense for Apple to have two different platforms for Macs and iDevices, or will they eventually merge into a single operating system for all device types? 

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Most long-time Mac users are likely to feel something between unease and outrage at this idea. When Apple introduced Lion in 2011, with its iOS-like Launchpad feature, there was a lot of muttering (and some rather louder commentary) about the dumbing-down of OS X.

Similar concerns were raised when Apple removed features from iWork. Apple did, thankfully, respond – promising to reintroduce at least some of the features and making an unconvincing attempt to pretend that had been the plan all along.

I share that concern. It’s vital to me that Macs remain as powerful as they are enjoyable to use. If I had to prioritise my Apple devices by their importance to me, my MacBooks (Pro and Air) would head the list, iPad Air second and iPhone a distant third.

The problem for me, and those who share that view, is this:

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Sales chart by @RebeccaJarvis

The company formerly known as Apple Computer, Inc, is no longer a computer company: it’s a phone and tablet company that also makes computers. It’s no coincidence that it changed its name to Apple, Inc, in the year that the iPhone was launched.

Revenue from iPhone sales are greater than its sales from all other products and services combined, and that post-PC era is literally just around the corner. We can dislike that as much as we like, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers.

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Of course, the post-PC era doesn’t mean that Macs are doomed. To use Steve Jobs’ famous analogy, most people may drive cars, but there will still be plenty of us who need trucks. And sales numbers aren’t everything: Macs are high-ticket items.

But it does mean we can’t bury our heads in the sand and imagine that the dominance of iOS devices will have no impact on the future development of Macs. A huge proportion of today’s Mac buyers were brought into the Apple world by their purchase of an iPhone. Many of them went on to buy iPads. They are familiar with iOS, and when Apple wants to upsell them to a Mac, it’s simple commercial sense to make that transition as painless as possible.

So we have to accept that there will be at least some iOS-ification of OS X. The questions are how far that convergence process will go, and what might be lost and gained along the way?

The worry, of course, is that OS X gets dumber with every release, that Macs become less and less capable as they are pitched more and more towards consumption rather than creation, and come to be viewed as little more than tablets in a different form-factor.

I don’t dismiss that concern – I share it – but I think we can draw comfort from a few things …

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First, the iOS-ification of OS X isn’t a one-way street. As iOS devices get more powerful – the 64-bit A7 chip being a notable landmark – there is also likely to be an OS X-ification of iOS.

Second, while we may have rolled our eyes at Launchpad , it hasn’t actually done any harm. If we don’t like it, we can ignore it and go right back to our standard ways of launching apps (dock or Spotlight, in my case). Apple could overlay a whole bunch of other iOS-type things on top of OS X to appeal to iDevice-first buyers, but so long as we can ignore them or switch them off, I don’t see the harm. And let’s not forget that OS X trackpad gestures – that I personally love – were a concept made possible by copying multi-touch from iOS devices.

Third, those new Mac users – the ones who first walked into an Apple Store to buy an iPhone – are helping delay the decline of PCs. They are helping keep the Mac platform viable. So let’s not be too rude about them.

Then there is the potential upside: what future hybrid products might offer to us.

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Steve Jobs again once said that touchscreens didn’t make sense on Macs because it’s unergonomic to have to hold your arm up to a screen. That’s absolutely true – with traditional PC form-factors. But these are changing. Ok, most of today’s hybrid laptop/tablet devices are heavy, clunky things that don’t do either job well, but I’m sure we can all think of a company with a talent for reinventing clunky things into sleek ones.

There are times when I carry both my MacBook Air 11 and my iPad Air. Some of the time that’s because the two devices have different strengths, but other times it’s simply that my iPad has apps I rely on and for which there is no direct equivalent on the Mac. If my MBA could run iOS apps, and had an LTE SIM slot to save the bother and battery-life hit of tethering, there would be plenty of times when that would be the only device I’d need – especially now that the battery-life of Haswell-powered Airs is almost up into iPad territory.

Similarly, there would be times when it would be great to run an OS X app on my iPad. So sure, convergence has its risks, but it is not without benefits.

Concept image: Yanko design

Concept image: Yanko design

How far do I think it will go? I certainly don’t think we’ll end up with a single platform anytime soon. I hesitate to say ‘if ever,’ as ever is a pretty long time. I also don’t think those of us who love our Macs need panic.

There will always be people whose primary need is consumption, and those whose key need is creation. Macs are brilliant creation tools, to the point where if you’re a writer, photographer, videographer or musician, it’s pretty much assumed you use a Mac. That’s a heritage Apple has worked hard to achieve, and – despite the occasional bump in the road (<cough>Final Cut Pro<cough>) – I don’t see Apple wanting to abandon that market.

But I do expect OS X 10 and iOS 8 will borrow a great deal from each other in terms of user-interface. I do expect that hybrid device to come along at some stage – something that will become very much easier if Apple is able to switch to ARM processors for its Macs. And I do half-suspect that by OSX 12 and iOS 10, it might be quite hard to tell at first glance which is which.

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82 Responses to “Opinion: Is Apple headed toward eventual convergence of OS X and iOS?”

  1. I totally agree. I do not want ANY convergence of iOS and OS X. I don’t think of iOS being intuitive at ALL for power tasks. OS X and iOS should always be two totally different OS’s.

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    • Exactly!

      Recently a small company by the name of Microsoft, tried to merge a multi-touch mobile operating system with a desktop system… the results were tragically (and comically) a major commercial flop.

      Even Microsoft wasn’t sure, and couldn’t tell you if the schizophrenic product was a tablet or a notebook PC. Most people saw it as neither. ;-))

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  2. I use an iPad Air, an iPhone 5 and a 15 inch retina MBP. There is no way in hell I would stick with Apple if they merged the MBP and iPad into one device. I don’t want a touchscreen Mac. I want to use the Magic Mouse that gives me precision that is impossible with my fat fingers (I’m actually a slender person but fingers compared to cursors?). I’m a professional designer and I do not want to switch to something with far less precision. I’m sure there are more cool mobile type things the Mac could do and vice versa, and that’s great. No problem with that. But merging would be an incredibly terrible solution for people like me. It will not happen. Anyone who thinks it will is not a professional.

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    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I’m not suggesting there will be only one device, only that the two platforms will become much more closely aligned, and that there will be at least one hybrid device.

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    • Abraham Song says:

      But what if the convergence of iOS & OS X still allowed for use of precision controls (like Mouse/Touchpad/Stylus/etc) as one of the benefits of said convergence?

      I actually think the convergence of the two is inevitable, that doesn’t mean that everything out of OS X will “go out the window” just like the expectation that all of the stuff in iOS would go out the window either

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      • The problem is that iOS is so successful precisely because it’s so easy to use and without compromise. Apple must convince developers to develop most apps for touch use only, and leave the mouse only for a selected range of pro apps.

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      • Abraham Song says:

        @Alex Then how do you explain allowing use of keyboards for iOS. This used to not be a capability of iOS. Why did they “compromise” there? Again, imho this is an eventuality. Not everything will come out of iOS, they will also take a lot of stuff from OS X as well.

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    • Alex Girard says:

      Giiiiirl, calm down. You know that if they do something like make a touch enabled Mac OS it will have some kind of new way to interact with it. People can’t use photoshop in a useful way with fingers and Apple knows that.

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    • As a designer a cursor is fine, but not as fine as a pen or pencil. Imagine if you had a MacBook Pro that acted like a Wacom Cintiq?

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    • What if it came with a stylus. Something that work just like mouse but a stylus instead. I think Microsoft has the idea, but they don’t have the marketing might and the design factor that apple has. The feel of a surface is wrong, but I have seen professionals use photoshop on a surface and it is awesome. I awesome think it would use Bluetooth in a new fashion than wee have ever seen

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  3. Of course they are. Which is why the 64bit A7 chip was so important.

    And who says Apple will make you use a touchscreen interface with your Mac. Thats the Windows way of thinking. If there’s ANYTHING, any Apple user should have learned by now. Is that Apple does user interface better than anybody else.

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  4. Dave Zelibka says:

    I’m not afraid of the Mac getting dumbed down, but I’m definitely pissed that it doesn’t seem to get any smarter over time for power users. I like effiient ways of doing things built into the OS and the lack of any improvements to applescript and automator over the years definiltey shows neglect for power users. And as convergence continues to make apps have a universal appearance across platforms, the touch centered interface gets all the focus and the keyboard based alternatives are quickly fading. Most newly developed apps I’ve tried lately have no regard on how to customize workflows for using the trackpad as little as possible and this is a complete efficiency disaster for people that use them every day.

    Apple has always put the ability of laypeople to immediately and intuitively use their products ahead of time-saving features in iOS, but now they are also taking this approach to OS X.

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    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Agree on Automator and Applescript, and there’s absolutely no reason for this: making more powerful tools available to those who want them doesn’t make OS X any harder to use by those new to the platform.

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    • Air Burt says:

      In terms of things built into OS X getting smarter, Mission Control is so much better on Mavericks. Having separate spaces on multi-monitor setups is really handy for power users like me who like segregating their apps.

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  5. tilalabubakr says:

    I don’t think that convergence would harm the Mac on any way. It’ll just bring more people to OS X. It is almost a year now since I bought my first Mac, and honestly -despite the fact that Windows really sucks- what convinced me to buy it was iOS and the similarities between them.
    It was a hell of an idea to bring the launchpad, develop the use of the trackpad and integrate iCloud into OS X. I now rarely use my iPhone, and with more iOS features get integrated into OS X, my “iPhone” will just became a “Phone”.

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    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I came in from the other end – long-time Mac user who was dragged into iPhone by the iPad – but am of the same view. The upside is substantial, and the concerns are likely overplayed.

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  6. I can’t worry about ‘what ifs’ because I’m so consumed by ‘what is’… My new iPad is an absolute joy.

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  7. Tallest Skil says:

    Yes. But it’s not at all what anyone thinks.

    No, your Mac won’t get a touchscreen. No, your iPad won’t get a Menu Bar. It’s not going to be like that. Come OS XI, the Macintosh line will be discontinued, replaced with a new family of desktop computers with a new apple-based name. Laptops will be discontinued entirely. The future is tablets and desktops. Apple has been designing for this future since 2008.

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  8. No. Because it would be a big mistake like Microsoft.

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  9. “Second, while we may have rolled our eyes at Launchpad, it hasn’t actually done any harm.”

    That’s true. I occasionally use Launchpad via the trackpad pinch for access to my less commonly used programs. It’s very quick and intuitive. Exactly what I’d expect from Apple.

    However…

    We don’t want to end up with another Windows 8. Microsoft has also said “it hasn’t actually done any harm” to have the tiled interface overtop of the desktop environment. But we all know that’s not true. Granted the ModernUI is more than just an overlay, but we definitely don’t want OS X – iOS heading in the same direction.

    Apple should learn from Microsoft’s mistake and realize that laptops/desktops are not the same as tablets/smartphones. Different purposes, different experiences, different OS’s.

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  10. akrieckhaus says:

    Interesting topic, and I find myself thinking about it often: It seems clear that hardware advances make the difference between an iPad and an iMac (witness the new iMacs – they are *physically* a large iPad on a stand) really just about software and the way you interact (touch with iPad, keyboard/trackpad with iMac). So imagine a 21″ iPad on a stand with enough iMac chips in it that I could run OS on it… if there were just two user preference options, 1) use touch or keyboard/mouse, and 2) run iOS or OSX — why isn’t that a perfect hardware convergence for Apple? Only make iPads.. in 4″ (call it a phone), 6″ and 9″ (call them iPads), and 21″ or 27″ (and call them desktops). Put differently, I already use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for my 27″ iMac at the office, so if my iMac was replaced with a 27″ iPad, all I need is to be able to run OSX on this “iPad” and I wouldn’t know the difference, but Apple gets to collapse two different product lines. Could an interim phase of the convergence be two versions of every app – keyboard/mouse or touch? We already have 2 versions (iPhone and iPad) for many apps, why not a 3rd which was designed to use a keyboard/mouse? Its not the hardware your choosing, its the interface. The hardware will all converge.

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  11. I think a convergence of OS X and iOS would be fine, as long as they also create an OS X Pro. Apple has been headed down this road for a couple of years now, ever since the release of Lion and the introduction of Launchpad. Pro users are very different from the casual user, and require very different performance. This would allow Apple to better create a system that is focused on its pro users, which, many will agree, Apple has been neglecting.

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    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      The only part I disagree with is the idea that this requires two separate operating systems. So long as the one OS can do all the powerful stuff without getting in the way of ease of use (which isn’t difficult – power users tend to favour keyboard shortcuts which no-one else has to even see), one OS can do it all.

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      • Ben do you use 4 finger multitasking gestures for your iPad? It is not a very natural way to switch apps, go home or multitask. Power users need spaces for work flow and just not an easy way to do that on iOS we already swipe up and swipe down for notifications and control center now we will have to swipe left and right for a workflow or spaces? Just not all things can translate from a OSX and iOS 7. The mouse and keyboard and windows have very advantages and won’t go away and you can’t add that to an iOS interface because it made for your fingers. Look at ARM windows 8 or the surface 2. It is not a desktop replacement and a true convergence of iOS and OSX would be the same failure.

        A dual OS does have purpose and future for a 13″ iPad or 12″ MacBook Air. Apple will test a dual OS system before they truly converge OSX and iOS if they ever do. You need user feedback before you just change how they interact with their PC. Look at what happened with windows 8. Before Applw drops intel and moves to ARM on most Macs they will first test interfaces on either a large iPad or a MacBook Air.

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      • @taoprophet420 gestures on iPad work great, what are you talking about.
        And anyone who thinks Apple will introduce a product with iOS-OS dual-boot is crazy.

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      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        I find multi-touch gestures a very efficient UI in OS X and iOS alike.

        One of the reasons the Surface bombed is because Microsoft tried to pitch it as both a tablet and a full laptop replacement, and of course it really isn’t. A hybrid device has to offer the right functionality and be marketed in the right way; Apple is far better placed than Microsoft to make such a device work.

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      • Air Burt says:

        It doesn’t need to be 2 separate operating systems. Just like how certain things are different between the iPhone and iPad versions of iOS, it would “scale” based on the hardware it’s installed on. The underlying code would include everything of the merged OS, but only certain parts would get used based on what device it is installed on. That seems like a natural progression and an easy way to merge the two.

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    • Not sure I agree with Christopher for two reasons:

      One, putting advanced features into a pro version means that if Apple discontinues that line, all those features are lost. Microsoft has worked for years to undo this exact scenario.

      Two, who says casual users don’t occasionally use advanced features. Separate versions splits your consumer base, requiring users to choose between features. No one likes that.

      It would go against Apple’s philosophy of “bringing order to complexity.” They have always done a great job of being both powerful and simple. Separation would discourage that.

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  12. 4nntt says:

    I think the clamshell is a good form factor since it provides a flat surface for working on and an angled surface for viewing, but they could make it more iOS like. My random ideas: They could turn the trackpad area in to a touch screen and allow the focused app to display custom UI. Maybe do it wii style and get rid of the keyboard so it is based on dual touch screens. A transparent tactile keyboard could attach to the lower screen with magnets allowing it to be removed or the symbols on the keys modified.

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  13. Looking back at the last Apple events I am happy that they clearly avoided talking about this “post pc era” and showed a clear commitment to the Mac. Craig Federighi often highlighted where OS X and using a Mac has advantages (“and of course since we are using a Mac we can…”. Also when they announced Mavericks and explained the idea behind the name he said, that they looked for an idea where they could get names from for the next 10 years (after using names of cats for 10 years).

    I think (and am glad about) that they moved away from the idea of merging iOS and OS X (if they ever had it) at least after seeing how people reacted to Windows 8. Both system serve their purpose well and should stay separated.

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  14. Jonny says:

    I think the convergence will be more about the data/behind-the-scenes stuff and less about the interface. Traditional computers will still look and be operated in a similar fashion (mouse, keyboard) and tablets will have an interface and interactions suitable touch.

    I suspect the OS will be less like an “iOS X” mashing of the two current OS’s and more along the lines of “iCloud OS”… not in that it will be named that, but in that iCloud will be the back-end and a variety of terminals (Macs, iPads, etc) will access the information/applications. Similar to what iCloud currently does, just more all-encompassing.

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  15. Pedro says:

    The convergence is happening & inevitable. However I agree that Apple won’t want to abandon the creatives who’ve been a huge part of their customer base. They’re also mindful of the developers who add so much value for them. I think both those user groups are enough to keep Apple from dumbing Macs down. So bring it on, convergence will make switching between devices easier for all users.

    On hybrid devices I have seen an Apple patent application for an iMac variant that swings the screen into a touchable position (on 9to5Mac?).

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  16. If it improves the operating system, regardless of whether you are talking iOS or OS X, who cares where it comes from? We already know that Apple is no longer focused on touch screens, they are more focused on voice and gestures. Something to remember, none of those, voice, gesture, or touch are precision input methods, so they will never replace digitizing tablets or mice (or some new option) for those who require precision.

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  17. Shaun G says:

    Makes perfect sense that someone new to the Apple platform would buy an iPad instead of a cheap Windows laptop then be drawn into using a Mac with the same OS and Apps rather than having to learn a new OS and buy all their Apps over again (assuming they even exist in OSX). It would dramatically increase the so called “halo” effect and increase sales of the Mac by expanding Apple’s “walled garden” strategy. To that extent I can see the business logic for one OS (namely iOS) across their entire product range.

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  18. I hope it doesn’t merge… thats the reason I left Windows and got a Mac. I saw windows 8 and said oh hell no!!

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  19. I thought you said the other day in comment OSX won’t get an iOS 7 like Ui change. I hope Apple goes to a toolbar look like what the private mode of safari looks like. On the iPad. A dark transparent graphite color. I think the convergence will be things like a share button and iCloud button in all built in OSX apps. I don’t think they will force you to use launchpad or use fullscreen apps. I just think they will continue to streamline sharing, iCloud, AirDrop so it’s even more seamless to access your data across iOS and OSX.

    I still see a dual os iPad or MacBook Air being Apple’s first stab at a hybrid but see it having 2 separate modes and iOS and OSX written for ARM. to me a true hybrid is what windows 8 is and it does not work. When Apple switches to ARM on Macs I see being able to run iPhone or iPad apps from dashboard. I see the iOS apps basically being widgets you can run in OSX at replace the old dashboard apps.

    I don’t think Apple will kill windows and go to an app switcher from iOS. I don’t see a true convergence. I see a UI very close to private mode safari in see on the iPad with new minimize, maximize buttons, no more gems. Just things that work for a phone and tablet don’t work on PC and the other way around. I just see Apple do jining polishing notifications, iCloud,sharing, airdrop, and more seamless approach to your data being on all your devices.

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    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      That’s right, I think in the medium term they will increasingly borrow from each other but not merge. In the longer term, they will get closer to meeting in the middle, but as I say, only be near-identical at first glance while retaining different capabilities.

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  20. jimgramze says:

    iOS is a subset of OS X. Never forget that. Convergence is a given. Already the iPad supports and even enhances the Mac experience in Logic Pro X and I expect such direct cooperation with other apps to continue. The iPad as an extra screen is practically old hat.

    An obvious next step is Airplay not merely going from all devices to the Apple TV, but to go from any Apple device to any other Apple device. My Samsung TV will mirror to my iPad and iPhone through the Smart View app today, I’d like it to also echo to my Mac into a single window. Such mirroring toward interoperability seems to be a given with the current state of the art being iWork in the Cloud and Airplay mirroring to the TV.

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    • Apple does not want you to mirror your devices to each other. You can’t mirror an iPhone to an iPad nor does Apple allow apps in the App Store to mirror between iOS devices. I should be able to plug my iPhone or iPad into my tv and basically have an Apple TV. Apple wants to sell Apple TV’s and eventually iTV’s so mirroring from iPhone to iPad is not allowed.

      Does not matter if iOS is a subset of OSX or not. Convergence into one OS is not a given and damn sure is not in the cards for 2014. You will see a Ui refresh of OSX in the summer and better implementation of share button into all built in OSX apps, airdrop between iOS and OSX, better iCloud integration and that about all. Apple will test what works with ARM on a dual OS iPad or MacBook Air.

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  21. This article makes little sense. It’s title asks if the two OS’s will ever “merge,” but then the text talks almost exclusively only about the “iOS-ification” of OS X which is actually a different topic altogether.

    Both OS’s could, and probably will pick up cues from each other as time goes by and this process neither supports nor deny’s the possibility of an eventual “merging.” The author only mentions actual merging once in the entire “article” and then it’s just an offhanded “I don’t think (so).”

    Personally, I see no value in merging at all and don’t think it will happen in a million years. IOS will gradually become the default OS, and OS X will sail into that great good night, never to be seen again. In making this short statement however I have already said more, and explored the issue in more detail, than the author of this “article” has.

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  22. Joe Bennett says:

    I am not interested in a full convergence, but I would like to have some more convergence as a developer. For example, I would like a UITableView class in OSX, *in addition to* the NSTableView class. That makes porting apps between the two devices easier, and NSTableView is overkill for a lot of stuff. Same with toolbars – the OSX version of tool bars are much, much, much more powerful, but overkill if you are porting an app from iOS.

    If they do that, the market will decide whether there should be more convergence. If NSTableView goes by the wayside for most things in favor of UITableView, well, then more convergence will happen. If it doesn’t, it won’t.

    The UIKit framework is really, really good. It is better in many ways than things that exist in the OSX world. Even though it is less powerful, it is easier to use. I would like to see Apple do this.

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  23. kelownadon says:

    I can think of one very good reason to merge both operating systems. That is to get Excel and Word on the ipad. Can you even imagine how many ipads Apple would be able to sell if the vast majority of people only needed one computing device? I for one would never need another main computer ever again. Let me guess, is this why Apple is reported to be thinking about releasing an even bigger ipad? And don’t even think of suggesting that Numbers and Apples Word equivalent can even compete in the long term with Excel and Word.

    At the moment Microsoft is gaining ground with its Surface Pro tablets, albeit very slowly. But what happens if all the other Android tablet makers get on the band wagon and bring out better tablets that support Excel and Word. Pretty soon Apple will find itself left behind. Apple needs to get Excel and Word on its ipad before the competition starts to get a good foothold in the tablet market.

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  24. iansterne says:

    I think we will see more and more convergence, the 64bit upgrade to the A series chips makes it easier for developers to port applications from the Mac to iOS. The changes that make the transition from an “i” device to a Mac and back smoother are a great thing. The possibility of some sort of cross over device is intriguing but has the high risk of not doing anything well.

    I keep reading pundits talking about apple using the “A” series chips in macs, I do not see this happening any time soon if ever. Intel’s chips keep lowering their power requirements and I do not see an A series chip powering the Mac Pro.

    I recently read an article that Intel is now open to adding a customers custom IP to Intel chip sets. The article went on to say why customers like Facebook and Ebay may want custom server chips. The entire time I read the article all I could think of was Apple, if they could ad their IP to Intel chips it would be the best of both worlds. Adding fingerprint recognition using the same method as currently done with the iPhone to OSX along with many of the other custom “on chip” functions we currently enjoy in our “i” devices would go a long way to the convergence of the ecosystem.

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  25. I have long thought that the convergence of OSX with iOS will lead to the day where our iPhones and/or iPads could be docked to a monitor and run iOS on the device itself while at the same time with a bluetooth keyboard / mouse / trackpad connected to this iOS device run OSX on the monitor (apple cinema display or whatever). I think our personal computers in our pocket is the future. The next step after that will probably be wearables holding OSX and probably would connect with a computer monitor / keyboard / mouse / trackpad with NFC or Bluetooth LTE (type tech) and then all the data / profile stuff stays with your “iWatch” connected via Wi-Fi or over Cellular LTE type connections for internet. (iCloud will keep the storage needs low). Mark my words!

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  26. Here’s what I see happening: iBeacons inform your iPad that it has just entered the area you have defined as your “workstation.” Siri asks if you’d like to switch to OSX. You answer, “Yes.”

    Airplay activates your external monitor(s). Bluetooth connects to your keyboard. Your iPad becomes a precision Magic Trackpad.

    You plug a cable into what is now the Thunderbolt 2 port on your iPad. It begins to charge as your external drives mount to your OSX desktop.

    Your iPad IS your Mac.

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  27. I would prefer that iOS became more like OS X rather than the other way around. As a designer, I would love a 13″ iPad that could run the full version of Adobe software. They should just take the Macbook Air, give it a removable keyboard and give it a pressure sensitive touch screen.

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  28. How simple or complicated would be to AirDrop between iOS and MacOS I believe is the clear answer. The day Apple decides to make it happen will be the day we are near OS consolidation.

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  29. hmurchison says:

    Has Apple made significant inroads in converging UIKit and Appkit? I haven’t seen it. I don’t think full convergence is the answer. All you need is a convergence of the API that exist below the GUI and input methods (Mouse/KB or Touch) and once could say that Apple’s already done a majority of that.

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  30. A couple years ago Apple filed a patent for a computer system that is mouse-operated when put in nearly upright position, but is touch operated when laid down almost flat. I’m convinced that this is exactly what they have already in their prototype test labs. Basically a 15″ iMac with a different stand that allows to lay it down in an angle like an iPad on the folded magic cover, or put it upright and have the Magic Mouse or Trackpad and the BT keyboard connected to it. It would show an iOS-like interface when flat, and a OS X like interface when upright. And if there isn’t a keyboard or track pad around, because you didn’t bring it, you will certainly be able to use the OS X mode with a loupe-like mouse cursor and the regular screen keyboard like in iOS. This way you can almost get mouse-precision from fingers.
    Look at iPhoto in full screen mode on OS X and you get the idea of what the company is already using internally. Even the button sizes are so that you could operate it entirely touch-based. So, the switch between full screen mode and regular mode is already exactly what you will see on that new device when moving it from horizontal to vertical. Why would you think they go through the pain of developing a separate full screen version, if not for that unified device? I predict we will see this system at the end of 2014, if they can get everything lined up until then, which is mainly rewriting OS X for the ARM processors. Or, better said, adding back to iOS what was thrown away when deriving iOS from OS X.
    They will certainly make it super smooth to operate, like a cursor appears in the iOS interface when you move your finger across the touch pad or something like that. If one thing is sure, they will not repeat Microsofts idiotic way of doing one OS for both worlds. And they don’t have to, because they control their hardware and can run iOS and OS X on one and the same ARM processor. They have all ingredients already at hands and are already working on getting their user base getting used to it so that the shock will be smaller.
    I keep telling people that my retina MBP was the last folding laptop I bought from Apple. Because the next one will simply be a giant iPad. And will not replace the “regular” iPad, same as this doesn’t replace an iPad mini.
    But, traveling with just my 15″ iPad, I will always feel fully functionally, and not partly naked as I currently do when not bringing my retina MBP and solely relying on the iPad.

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  31. driverbenji says:

    The answer to the headline is a definite “Yes”!

    The long-term Mac users that have concerns are reacting and just don’t get it.

    From most of the comments I read on this subject on various forums, everyone seems to think:
    UI=OS?
    Also, they think that OS X will be dumbed down for iOS?

    This simply is not true. Remember, iOS was based on OS X’s core, so that they could dumb down OS X to operate within the confines of a new small technology. This tech is developing and evolving very quickly. But, to understand how it will all work, you have to separate the UI from the OS.

    Even when iOS & OS X merge, mobile devices and desktop/laptop devices will not necessarily have the same UI. Think about how any computer works. The OS (Operating System) is always there BEHIND THE SCENES doing it’s work. This is where iOS is becoming more and more powerful, to the point of eventually becoming as powerful as OS X over the next few years. Now we have OS X (or Mac OS X), while it still has been improving, over the last few releases Apple has added, yes ADDED, iOS, or, rather, mainly iCloud functions to OS X to make it more interactive with mobile iOS devices. Yes, they are also adding things to the UI to make it more familiar to iOS users, but, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way you can use it. Yeah, I know that Mavericks seems to be the first release since Lion that has added real performance improvement, but, they were have some beginning transition issues. But, the reality is, the OS is working behind the scenes of both iOS & OS X and they are both built off the same core. The problem is, OS X came first, so longtime users are afraid they are going to take OS X backwards when it is totally the opposite that is happening and will continue. The A7 chip release this year for iOS devices is now 64-bit, this is a step toward making it able to handle more of OS X’s power. What is really happening is that iOS is becoming more powerful each release, and will eventually catch up to and match OS X in performance.

    Now, as far as making laptops/desktops touchscreen able…dang, I can’t believe how many people think you won’t be able to use a mouse or other input devices. I can’t wait for all computer screens to be touchscreen…that doesn’t mean I will ONLY be able to touch it to interact with it, but it sure seems limiting not to be able to!! So, yeah, Macs will still have USB/Thunderbolt and all of that, you can still do all you can do now, but also touchscreen. Man, this is 30 years overdue :P …;o)

    So, all of you that think there will be limitations by Apple merging iOS & OS X, understand that it will be better for both…more powerful iOS devices & apps, more options for OS X UI, and better integration between the two. For those of you that are pros using Macs for years, you’ll be able to wirelessly receive from others’ mobile devices more easily, and also start your creations on your iOS mobile devices and take them more easily to your OS X pro device. Dang, best of both worlds, not worst, what hell is everyone (everyone that balks) thinking??

    I’ve been using Macs since ’98. I’m older than I look, but, not set in my ways like some of you seem to be.

    FYI: the iPhone 5s A7 processor benchmarks better than any 2005 Power Mac G5 tower, except the dual 2.5GHz, and about the same as the 2006-7 era MacBook Pro 15-inch Core 2 Duo, (source: Mactracker). iPhone/iOS has come a long way since the first iPhone!

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    • Scophi says:

      I think many of our reactions are based on the most recent crossover attempts that have not gone so well. No one is happy with iWork. They lowed the bar for the OS X versions instead of raising the bar for the iOS versions. That doesn’t set good precedent. Yes, Apple will restore *some* of the features, but most of us question why we had to lose any.

      There are other system features that have been lost in recent OS X incarnations with the explanation that Apple is trying establish parity. Few have made users happy. Throw in what Microsoft just did with Windows and you can see that people’s concerns have a basis.

      I’m sure Apple will craft with more finesse than Microsoft, so I don’t expect a Windows 8 disaster. But I think Apple needs to proceed with caution and crossover features conservatively.

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  32. Please don’t. The mobile OS is different for some very good reasons. The size of the device makes all the difference–as well it should. Changing iChat over to the iOS-esque iMessage was not necessarily a benefit to desktop users. The design makes sense on a small screen but not on a large one. Then there are the power limitations. If mobile is not up to the demands of production–such as encoding video, then let mobile be mobile and let it do well what it does well. Same for the desktop.

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  33. I think major convergence is on the way. The reason being is that convergence will allow Apple to use less resources in software development. Which is probably why they can afford to start giving their software away for free.

    With that said, you will never see convergence on the hardware side because Apple being a hardware company makes their money that way.

    Personally, I would like to see the flatter look of iOS to come to OSX minus all that white and bright colors though. Also certain features can definitely go cross platform. iMessage going cross platform was a great idea.

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  34. That seems inevitable. Apple is already preparing the transition. 64 bit architecture with the A7 and iWork apps that have the same functions on both platforms is an indication of what they are planning to do. If they plan to introduce a bigger iPad, or even without, iOS will soon gain the ability to have real multitasking, with several apps displayed at the same time. I don’t know how they’ll do it and avoid doing the same thing as in Windows 8. I see them taking the simple route of using windows like in OSX and not weird screen divisions. With a screen double the resolution as an iPad, they could display two current iPad apps without the buttons being too small maybe. A five finger pinch could make a full screen app smaller to one single fixed size. That would be just one more gesture for people to learn since the introduction of iOS. Add to that a Finder that doesn’t use folders, but a simple division by Music, Pictures, Video and Documents (with a single level folder structure), and you have a machine that covers 99% of anyone’s usage.

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  35. rakinjannot says:

    I’d like to point out that there were not only “big products” scheduled for 2014, as Tim Cook said, but it’s also time for OSX to get a reboot. Ben is assuming that there could be convergence in OSX 10, but what about OS 11 (OSXI)? It’s going to come out soon enough, and with each OS release there is a big overhaul. I don’t see iOS going anywhere dramatic considering it got its first overhaul in seven years just two and a half months ago. OSX is on the other end of the spectrum; it’s begging for an overhaul. I agree with the sentiment that OSXI should be as powerful as possible, but that next update is ominous.

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  36. i2fun says:

    Actually this ought to scare the hell out of Apple’s competition, but I doubt any of them (including Microsoft and Google) are too freaked out yet. But should they be? ….and that’s something we will just have to wait and see for.

    But apparently this is the reason Apple bought both PA Semi and Intrinsity for. If you dig into PA Semi’s history, you’ll find that it was headed out on the same path as ARM. Their chip designs were based on licensed IP from IBM for RISC architecture and they were attempting to make PowerPC clones that were real energy savers. They succeeded and it seemed that if they would of had the financial resources, they would have been a force to be recon’d with, with multicores designs in tow with up to 16 cores. They were also highly modular and could span the entire device range from embedded mobiles to super computers.

    So when Apple bought PA Semi…. everyone knew it wasn’t just for the talent to design a custom chip. Because at the time Jim Keller of AMD 64bit fame didn’t come with the deal. But he did come on board after the deal was sealed.

    For those still thinking that somehow…. some way…. Apple was able to ground up design a totally new core for A7, most likely they don’t understand what’s involved in a fresh ground up designed processor core. Especially one like Qualcomm has now. They takes years longer in development and that’s a fact some people online seem to be oblivious to. But Apple had a few aces in hand from the PA Semi purchase. That being the fact they are based on RISC architecture just like ARM’s chips. So for a chip mapping genius like Jim Keller, this would be a piece of cake to get ARM instruction sets working on PWRficient’s 64bit dual cores. Which Apple had intended to go to if they hadn’t already signed up with Intel.

    Nobody knows the full reasons for Apple’s switch to Intel, but chances are it wasn’t just a difference in Chip Roadmaps and the Megahertz Wars. Because IBM won on the race track but were still heat demons and that’s most likely why Apple changed so they could put Intel chips in Macbooks and ultimately planned on Intel being able to supply low power atom for mobiles including tablets and phones. But when Apple bought PA Semi in 2008 after already going to ARM for mobiles with Samsung’s chips, everything changed.

    No doubt about the fact that the dual cores inside A7 are based on PWRficient 64bit cores and rather than split the architectures like Microsoft did, Apple has chose to use RISC processors across their device spectrum. The only problem with this is the fact that they are still using a mobile OS that just won’t work on desktops and ultimately wouldn’t get them into the Server game either.

    “The processors are highly modular and can be combined to multi-core system-on-a-chip designs, combining CPU, northbridge, and southbridge functionality on a single processor die.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PWRficient

    So my bet is on Apple working right now on a true ground up replacement for both iOS and OS X. For OS X, it’s obvious that w/o a touchscreen framework, and relying on an antiquated old primarily single threaded file system with out system wide multi-tasking, that they’d need a new file system. But Apple declined to use Sun’s great 128bit file system. I’m not so sure that Apple did that because they have been working on either bringing back the file system they had created for Copland.

    Copland with it’s new file manager, Finder and relational database file system was in the same company as BeOS’s BFS. It was basically capable of doing the same kinds of things as BFS did on BeOS. Finder could be used to access not only everything on it’s own file system, but literally any file system, even ones that weren’t out yet. Regrettably though Copland project was killed and this was no doubt why Apple’s market share continued to fall through the floor in the 90′s before Apple was finally able to get OS X running more than 6 yrs after Amelio had killed Copland on the recommendation to buy BeOS instead. When Copland had everything BeOS offered and more with it’s ability to already run legacy Mac programs and frameworks in what they referred as Boxes. Which were akin to virtualized or emulated modules.

    But….. the other great feature of Copland was it’s full custom made Nukernel written to run natively on IBM’s PowrPC architecture and if it can run on IBM’s chips, there is not much reason to keep it from running on ARM RISC instruction sets either. That’s why we may be seeing a convergence of both Apple’s mobiles and desktops, but also including Apple getting into the Custom ARM’s Server race with chips based on PWRfient 64bit designed MP cores. And at that thought….. with a new Operating System and File System based on the features and promises that Copland was to bring, could now be Apple’s ultimate salvation!

    Should Samsung, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, AMD and even ARM be afraid? Well if they aren’t they will be!!!

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  37. va1an says:

    I hope they get to a single OS as soon as possible.

    Having two OS’s is a resource hog that has led to several delays.

    When they are combined I expect they will have a different UI and UX for each device.

    And essentially we can dismiss Windows8 since the Apple has already considered and had a better solution for a Windows 8 style merger. Mavericks’ is similar to windows 8 but launches the same apps whether in ‘iPad’ or ‘Desktop’ styles.

    We see this merger already happening to iWork and the iCloud enabled Apple apps.

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    • i2fun says:

      This is why Apple must absolutely be working on a replacement for HFS+ as the default base file system. They passed up going to ZFS with it’s 128bit file system model. I’m thinking because they had other things in mind like having to do with a relational database file system that both Amazon and Google are using in Cloud space.

      A relational database file system like they had going going on in Copland with it’s 64bit Nukernel custom designed for PowerPC architecture was a huge mistake in Amelio’s killing of years of work on Copland. All because the gal he appointed in saying yay or nay was in love with Jean-Louis Gazzee and wanted Apple to buy BeOS instead of launching Copland!

      Mavericks is a UI and could be adapted to ride on a custom designed PWRficient SoC design like that in A7. The modularity of Apple’s PWRficient core technology could take them even into Super Computer and Servers to compete in literally every market including Cloud based computing (Chrome OS), Servers, Mobiles from iPad to iPhones and leave Microsoft eating their dust, while also leaving Intel for Microsoft as a consolation prize!

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  38. I really can see where this is going , and i keep saying that since the release of the A7.
    Hopefully with ne next iPhone ( which i would buy then) just a regular iPhone, but when you plug it in your dock at home you have a full OSX desktop on your monitor.
    I really hope for that.
    2 Systems: iOS on the phone and plugged in the dock, full OSX !

    Sad that the Ubuntu-Phone didn’t make it !

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  39. Aaron Lozano says:

    I have a macbook pro, an iMac 27″, one iPad and two iPad mini. The Macbook pro is the least used by far. The future seems like a huge screen desktop device and a tablet/phone to give it company. Not strange Apple is taking this road of convergence, it just would make sense.

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  40. tjt (@tjt) says:

    A middle ground in the transition would be to create a touch-enabled mac that would run iOS apps in a window along side OS X applications. Enabling touch and mouse/keyboard use in both environments so users can switch input methods based on what they are doing. Add cut/copy/paste and drag/drop across the two environments and suddenly people can work as they are most comfortable.

    For pros – You could even allocated part of your iMac’s screen to function as a trackpad so you don’t have to give up precision controls.

    For consumers – Gaming is such a large, growing business and iPad games designed for Retina iPads would rock on a 27″ touch iMac.

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    • i2fun says:

      They can do this now with ARM hardware accelerated virtualization. Because all they would need is a kernel specific to Apple’s OS running in a custom hypervisor. As long as all OS kernels were related. You could mix and match with even programs or Apps running in modules on the hypervisor, like Linux based Android Apps now running in module form on top of it’s ARM Linux kernel Hypervisor.

      No doubt that’s what Apple is now doing with ground up written 64bit Apps like FRAX! …..which is running on it’s own virtual sub file system and capable of full pervasive multi-threading that iOS is not yet capable of on HFS+!

      Running in virtual space there is also the possibility of full Mac games running on iOS in VM’s!

      With a hypervisor on ARM instructions utilizing PWRficient 64bit architecture in A7, A8 and A9, you could run just about anything in a guest OS or App module on top of the Hypervisor!

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    • I think Apple should work to unify the App Store. Encourage developers to create apps for iPad, iPhone, Apple TV and OSX all at once. Hey – even if the iPhone app showed up on your desktop and wasn’t resizable it’d be awesome. I’d like to see all of the apps available on OSX – not vice versa though Final Cut on an iPhone doesn’t make sense.

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  41. Convergence between the two OSs, from a consumer point of view, doesn’t make sense and in fact it is completely undesirable. Don’t even suggest it! I want my laptop to behave as a normal computer and not like my tablet. What would be cool is if the App I bought for my iPad could run in emulation on my Mac. Now your talking my language.

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  42. I think the rumoured 12.9 inch iPad will be an iPad Pro of sorts running a new operating system. A key take-away from 2013′s line-up of products is how Apple simplified their everything. The entire run of new iOS devices all have the same chips, their portable line has been simplified with the removal of the legacy MacBook Pro’s and so-on…A lot of people will say, ‘Well Microsoft failed at this with the metro UI’ but this isn’t Microsoft. And where they fall short, Apple will provide a seamless user experience.

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  43. I think Apple needs to get back to its roots of creating a powerful ecosystem with fully feature software. This goes for their iOS devices too. I see them aligning there design ascetics, unifying features – ie. the delete icon is the same everywhere on iOS (currently is not) and OSx, building a more robust set of default apps. I would like to see the default Calendar app offer more than 3 colours for items! I’d like to see more integration between apps – ie make a list in the Notes app titled to do, and iOS/OSx offers to put the list in reminders and prompts you when you’d like to be reminded. (also allow third party apps to direct a url to open in another app, ie open an instagram link on twitter, and the instagram app opens – not the webpage/also make all webpages from an app open in Safari, so they can be saved/bookmarked/synced) Make a reminder to buy soap after work at Walmart, and the Calendar app is updated with travel time to the Walmart that is closest to your work. (AND if you have an appointment after work and Calendars thinks you’ll be late, it’ll make a suggestion for you to reschedule your reminder for after the appointment) Then your Maps app, auto updates from the Calendar/Reminders app(s) and creates a route that takes you to Walmart first. I really want to see Apple software have this kind of power, this kind of Artificial Intelligence. I think they need to make iLife and iWork far more powerful and professional. The challenge is to create a feature rich app that doesn’t overwhelm your average consumer. All in all, iOS 7 could use an iOS 7 like design overhaul – it won’t get one, but I do think it’s design will be changed – just enough to not overwhelm the masses and this will visually and functionally match OSX. We won’t get an App switcher on OSX, we won’t have all of are apps on the ‘home screen’ – heck, Apple will call it a desktop still. As always, we’ll get the perfected implementation of the completion (cough – Windows 8 – cough).

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  44. giorgiopagliara says:

    I’m agree with you Ben, OSX and iOS will merge sometime in the near future. Maybe nearer than we think.
    Let’s consider also that it’s also expensive for Apple develop two different OS.
    Unfortunately OSX is more complex and expensive to develop, while iOS is the one that bring Apple more money.
    I’m sorry for the Pro users (I’m one of those) but Apple demonstrated more than once that consumer users has the priority.
    iOS is definitively the way to go.
    Maybe, coming back to one of your previous posts, when ARM will finally reach MacBooks

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