back to article Why a merged Apple OS is one mash-up too far

It's come full circle. Young reporters joining a prestigious tech publication 20 years ago were quietly advised to focus on only three companies in what we then called "Client Computing". Who were they? Intel, because no other chip company mattered – nobody could produce powerful PC chips at scale. Microsoft, because, well, it …

  1. Fenton

    Nothing wrong with a merger OS

    Having a common kernel is a good idea, what Apple should do is think about different personae depending on form factor which will have to be adhered to my software vendors, I.e. a cut down interface with different functionality in mobile mode and a full desktop experience when linked to a monitor and keyboard/mouse.

    I actually quite like some of the touch features in windows 10 in desktop mode

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Nothing wrong with a merger OS

      Nothing wrong with that nope... it's the merged GUI that is bad!

      In truth, behind the hood can be different at times. A GPU for science/gaming etc could have a really complex pipeline that a Phone may not need/have... but in principle I don't see that stopping the code/design path being the same. As long as it "scales" correctly.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Nothing wrong with a merger OS

        "As long as it 'scales' correctly"

        Unlike 'Ape' and Win-10-nic, which are/were "phone OS on a desktop". BOOOOooo!

        from article: "Most computing isn't done on a PC any more"

        This depends on how you define 'computing'. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

        I guess I'm 'ok' with it as long as Apple doesn't cave in to the 'Google Chrome' and 'The Metro' 2D 'FEELING' FLATSO. If they _DO_, it will be the *SINGLE* *BIGGEST* *MISTAKE* *THEY* *COULD* *EVAR* *MAKE*!!!

        (Jobs would NEVER do that, if he were still here, as demonstrated by what he DID do, which was VERY successful!)

        ok some apple things look a bit flatter than they USED to, but it's STILL at least SOMEWHAT 3D skeuomorphic, but if they go full-on Larson-Green or Australis UI on us, their fate will be SEALED.

        Then again, maybe not. Apple fans will probably have it shoved at them until they "like" it, similar to how RIAA markets their "music" these days, and how hollywood continues to pump out CRAP instead of movies (and then give one another mega-awards for making crap movies that nobody watches).

        1. TVU Silver badge

          Re: Nothing wrong with a merger OS

          "Then again, maybe not. Apple fans will probably have it shoved at them until they "like" it, similar to how RIAA markets their "music" these days, and how hollywood continues to pump out CRAP instead of movies (and then give one another mega-awards for making crap movies that nobody watches)"

          I don't think they will take it. When the 2016 range of MacBooks was launched, there was a lot of blowback from professional users about the loss of useful ports, lack of upgradeability, outdated chipsets and the rest. Judging from various Mac forums, that was too much for many Mac users and they defected to other operating systems.

          The danger for Apple there is that once Mac power users leave the Apple ecosystem, they take their families with them and Apple loses them for good, i.e. no need for iTunes or iPhones any more. Apple ought to tread very carefully now or risk losing more customers.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Nothing wrong with a merger OS

        "In truth, behind the hood can be different at times. A GPU for science/gaming etc could have a really complex pipeline that a Phone may not need/have... "

        The core Darwin kernel always has been the same between Apple products. I imagine the only real kernel differences are hardware drivers and perhaps default process priority settings. The overall OS differences are the GUI (obviously), filesystem layout and pre-loaded programs ... sorry, "apps".

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Nothing wrong with a merger OS

      Those with experience with Linux will quite rightly point out that a different window manager can completely change how a device works.

      You need a bit more intelligence to get the application to handle having two faces (if appropriate) but having One OS and two window managers doesn’t seem like an inherently bad idea.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Nothing wrong with a merger OS

        "having One OS and two window managers doesn’t seem like an inherently bad idea."

        ack

      2. TVU Silver badge

        Re: Nothing wrong with a merger OS

        "You need a bit more intelligence to get the application to handle having two faces (if appropriate) but having One OS and two window managers doesn’t seem like an inherently bad idea"

        I agree with that but if there's the same interface for the mobile and MacBook then that's probably not going to go down well with users who have to do proper professional work.

        There are already alternatives already out there like Windows 10 for the creatives and Linux for the developers and they will surely gain if Apple doesn't handle this one competently. I would have trusted Steve Jobs to pull this one off but with the current leadership crew not so much.

  2. Anne-Lise Pasch

    Chip shortages...

    ... are a thing. So Apple is ahead of the curve on this one. Good for them.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Chip shortages...

      Unless they're building their own foundry, chip shortages will still be a problem as it is down to capacity of your outsourced production. Storage and RAM are normally the bottlenecks rather than the processor.

  3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

    Linux runs Android and can run desktops. So a common kernel is already a reality; we just need to argue about how far up the stack up we want to go. And on the web, a single site can adapt between desktop and touch. (To what extant and how well is in the lap of the designers).

    Tablet computing, itself, is a precedent for Apple perfecting what Microsoft has screwed up.

    And there is an unmet need for portable, personal computing: I just like the idea of being to plug a device into a keyboard and mouse (and perhaps a monitor) and to have a desktop OS that's mine. So perhaps the time is ripe for Apple to come along and "invent" this.

    1. ratfox Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

      I am afraid that in this case, the convergence of the OS also means a convergence of the UX. In particular, I'm afraid that because most Mac users use it for very little serious work, the UX is going to converge to a consumer experience similar to the phones.

      There has already been a few changes in that direction. For instance, they had in Finder windows this "All my files" folder, which is so useless to anybody doing serious work on a computer that's it's almost insulting. I think that's been removed now (and of course you have people complaining since it was so useful to them), but it's a pretty good indication of what can go wrong when you design for your average users.

      A bit like when Windows introduced the ribbon, and the most prominent buttons were "copy" and "paste".

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

      Isn't this where Microsoft was going with Continuum on Windows Phone? Plug it in and you get a Windows PC. Though I'm not sure if it ever offered an actual desktop. Anyone with a Windows Phone who used it able to tell me more?

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

        Isn't this where Microsoft was going with Continuum on Windows

        Also where Canonical were going with Unity 8 - until they pulled the plug....

      2. Def Silver badge

        Re: OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

        Isn't this where Microsoft was going with Continuum on Windows Phone? Plug it in and you get a Windows PC. Though I'm not sure if it ever offered an actual desktop. Anyone with a Windows Phone who used it able to tell me more?

        Continuum gives you a standard Windows desktop.

        The start menu just contains your regular home screen tiles, with All Apps off to the right as usual.

        Applications are restricted to "fullscreen" only (apparently there's an app that allows you to tile windows across the display), and their UIs reflow to fit the display. There's still a task bar at the bottom though, so it's easy to switch between running apps as usual, and alt-tab works as you would expect.

        The Continuum dock (it can work wirelessly too, apparently) has a couple of USB ports and a few video outs too (Display Port and HDMI, I think - I've only used it with HDMI), so plugging in a mouse and keyboard basically works as you would expect. You can still use the phone display as a touch pad and keyboard if you don't have those handy though.

        There are a few problems with it - I haven't found an easy way to access things which are wired to physical buttons, like the volume controls, for example, and you can't right click on a task bar button to close an application (you have to activate it, and then click the close button in the title bar), but I think CShell will probably help solve the latter.

        Apart from those minor problems and the lack of tiled applications, it's actually pretty fucking awesome IMO. When Andromeda comes out and has Win32 on ARM support, a lot of people really won't need Windows desktop machines anymore.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Applications are restricted to "fullscreen" only [...] and their UIs reflow to fit the display."

          And that's utterly insufficient. Even with a Surface Pro and UWP applications, same limitations.

          When you connect it to a large monitor, maybe more than one, you understand how stupid the idea is of applications designed for single small screens and touch input just "reflowing" to fill the much larger available space, without actually using it efficiently.

          You need a far different UI which really takes advantage of the available space and input controls, and widgets may have to change to adapt to the way they're going to be used and how much data can be displayed.

          1. Def Silver badge

            Re: "Applications are restricted to "fullscreen" only [...] their UIs reflow to fit the display."

            You misunderstood me. All the applications I've tried do have different layouts depending on the aspect ratio and resolution of the display they're running on. It might not be anything other than portrait Vs landscape with components positioned relative to the edges of the display and scaled according to DPI, but that's pretty much all you need most of the time.

            Ironically, the desktop monitor (1900x1200) and TV (1920*1080) I have used continuum on have lower resolutions than the actual phone display (1440x2560) anyway.

      3. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

        Isn't this where Microsoft was going with Continuum on Windows Phone? Plug it in and you get a Windows PC.

        The thought of the registry being on my phone, ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

      Linux runs Android and can run desktops. So a common kernel is already a reality…

      That's a bit sweeping and, as a result, misleading. The monolithic Linux kernel does support lots of different archs but tends to get customised for each one as a result. Then there is the boon and curse of the different layers, especially when it comes to GUIs which is why both Android and MacOS (some fanboi has just edited one of my questions on AskDifferent to use the "official" writing) mandate their own tightly coupled app frameworks and why lots of people moan about Android not being a full Linux.

      With the Mach kernel Apple should have it easier porting the majority of the OS services to different archs and it has been doing for years on simplifying the GUI toolset. Though it probably wants to refactor some of the IOS settings that have grown all kinds of warts in the last few years.

      But a toolkit that works for both a touch and mouse interface is notoriously difficult to get right. As always the devil is in the detail of the kind of widgets you want in which environment. I'm seeing this with the Gemini, which is a lovely device (sound on mine could be unusually poor), that is at the limits of a keyboard and touchscreen interface (you can reach the lower part of the screen with your fingers while typing) where a lot of widgets are being caught out on the half-height screen. But you can do a lot and for the rest you can let developers provide different settings information for different widgets for different resolutions. Developers will appreciate this if it is done correctly and one of the reasons for the popularity of QT's QML, I believe.

      As for converged devices, I'll believe them when I see them. Apple might well let others test the water and make a splash when it thinks there is a market to be had (it stopped pioneering years ago).

    4. Ian Joyner

      Re: OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

      (OS ≠ UX and OS ≠ CPU to put this programming gobbledegook in nicer language.)

      I agree, the article seems to confuse orthogonal (independent) issues. The chip that is running a Mac (or iOS device) is orthogonal to the CPU.

      A CPU designed from the ground up for today's environment should include security as low as possible to do bounds checking, prevent injected code, etc. (This is the semantic disservice that C has done the industry, separate to the syntactic mess above!)

      However, the article makes an important point that mixing touch screen and keyboard/mouse interfaces is like mixing oil and water.

      Perhaps the lesson is that most of the industry throws in features without considering what the implications of the mix is, whereas Apple seems to consider those questions before just rushing in.

      This happens at all levels - just look at programming in C++, the most awful mixture of everything that anyone can think of, accompanied with many misleading excuses about how powerful that is and that C/C++ do not get in the way of what the programmer wants to do. Actually the mixing oil and water very much gets in the way.

    5. Ian Joyner

      Re: OS !== UX && OS !== CPU

      I should also say that Linux running end-user computing is not a good idea. It was a rushed job by Google to use Linux, just because it was there.

      However, Linux monolithic kernel architecture makes it less secure. But it is faster. That is OK in data centres where security is monitored by professionals who install software very judiciously. But this manual approach is not good for end-users (even when we're professionals who know about security). We want security to be automatic and to guard against malicious software that we might have - for good intentions - installed.

  4. handleoclast Silver badge

    If it's done right...

    If it's done right, I could see it working.

    It would be nice to have a single computing device that has a touch-screen and fits into a pocket, with a phone UI. Yet if attached to a monitor, mouse and keyboard it has a desktop UI.

    Done right, it would need little or no change to application code. Done right, the contextual mode handling would be in OS (well, GUI layer really, but it's all lumped as part of the OS these days) and handled transparently.

    Simplified example. App needs a menu bar. It calls the "construct a menu bar" library and populates it. If the device is in desktop mode that results in a standard menu bar being rendered. If the device is in phone mode it gives a hamburger menu button.

    Yes, there's a hell of a lot more to it than just that simplified example. A lot of work. But it's not inscrutably complex. Feasible. If you wanted to produce a modal GUI that worked well in both modes, it could be done.

    It goes without saying that Win 8 and Gnome 3 did it exactly wrong. You're going to have a common OS and it is going to look like a phone. Even on a desktop. That worked out soooooo well.

    1. pauhit

      Re: If it's done right...

      We already have realworld examples of devices that change their layout when you change control schemes; what happens when you turn your mobe 90 degrees? And I have a playstation 3 controller plugged into my win10 box, and the computer will accept inputs from it when I open a game with controller support (some games even display keyboard button prompts, but switch to proper controller button prompts when I press a button on the controller).

      It seems like we have everything needed to make a proper OS that can switch between UI's for different input setups, we just need someone to do it.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: If it's done right...

        If it's done right, I could see it working.

        It has been done right. Windows 10 smoothed out the wrinkles of Windows 8. It's awesome. ;)

        See my reply further up for more details.

        1. Richard 81

          Re: If it's done right...

          Windows 10 being "awesome" is still a matter of opinion. On the whole I like it (love it, compared to 8), but there's still plenty to hate. The Start menu is still awful, so now I never even open it. I could do at home, where I have Start10 installed, but I've just got out of the habit. Also the new settings "app" is terrible; it's a massive pain to find the right options page to do anything. Thank God the old control panel is still buried in there. Cortana is utterly pointless, and is killed with RegEdit on any PC I work with. The notifications page might as well not exist, since I never look at it. Basically any of the bits that Microsoft are adamant should work the same on touchscreens and with a mouse are total rubbish.

          Apple will be fine merging iOS and OSX, so long as the touchscreen mode looks like iOS does now and the desktop mode looks exactly like OSX.

          1. Def Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: If it's done right...

            The awesome comment was directed more to the fact that I finally have a device that I can carry around in my pocket that effectively turns into a desktop computer when I plug it into a dock. Yes, there's room for improvement, but it's still pretty awesome. The only thing that could make it more awesome would be if my AI-piloted flying car had a dock and screen. And a bottomless minibar.

            I still don't understand the Start menu hate. I suspect a lot of it is just people trying to get their views validated (it's still an easy way to the upvotes around here). Let's compare the start menu in 7 and 10 for a minute...

            7: The most recent apps appear in a list directly above the start button - a nice idea, but the most used apps appear furthest away from the start button. (Unless you have your taskbar on the top of the screen, I guess.) Furthermore, the order will potentially switch around if several apps are used as often as each other - reducing the ability to use muscle memory to open applications (albeit ever so slightly). You can remove applications from this list, but you can't explicitly add something there (IIRC). Below all that is the Windows 95 style gargantuan All Programs tree of crap for all registered applications along with all the bullshit web and redundant uninstall shortcuts that the developer (or marketing department) deemed was absolutely necessary for you to run their software.

            10: The left half is an alphabetical ordered list of installed applications. (There's still some crap in there because old developer habits die hard, but it's nowhere near as messy as the All Programs menu from before.) The right half is a fully customisable space for your favourite and most used applications. After five minutes of setting this up, you can develop and tone your muscle memory to perfection. (You can even add a shortcut to the old Control Panel there.) I don't remember how the search worked in 7, but I rarely have trouble finding an application by typing a few letters after opening the start menu in 10 - I don't even have to click anywhere first.

            Most personal assistants are still pretty useless. Cortana, Siri, whatever the fuck Google has... I don't use them. I can see the point, but I just don't think the technology is there yet. There's a whole host of privacy issues that need solving from a legal perspective before I would consider using them too.

            I don't think it's any harder to find something in the Settings than it was in the Control Panel of 7. Certainly if you didn't know where something was in the Control Panel, it could take ages to find something. At least there's a semi-intelligent search box in Settings. The biggest problem with Settings is that it's simply not finished. They should have completely replaced Control Panel in one go - but I realise that wouldn't have been possible with backwards compatibility requirements. On the whole though, I like the fact that settings are now freed from the tiny little cramped dialog boxes of yesteryear. If they can just finish the rest off and get rid of all the bloated peripheral panels with bullshit custom UIs (hello, Intel and Logitech), I'll be happy.

            Anyway, not going to try and convince anyone they're right or wrong here, just fancied sharing some thoughts. :) (First <icon>'s on me.)

      2. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: If it's done right...

        I dabbled in a Cube iWork10 tablet with a keyboard attachment.

        Ran Android and Windows 10. In Windowsland, with the keyboard attached it acted like a little laptop.

        Without the keyboard it went into "tablet mode" which mostly got rid of the desktop. Also had a buggy onscreen keyboard that didn't appear most of the time,.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Having a common kernel is a good idea,

    Is it ?

    Single point of failure and all that ?

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Having a common kernel is a good idea,

      That's not how single points of failure work.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Having a common kernel is a good idea,

      In software, single point of failure usually means single source of bugs, which means if a bug is fixed once, it's fixed everywhere. Would be nice if fixing a bug in MacOS X would automatically fix the same bug in iOS.

      1. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Re: Having a common kernel is a good idea,

        Of course experience suggests that when a bug is created once, it is propagated everywhere. Apple has been a real master of this lately.

        1. TVU Silver badge

          Re: Having a common kernel is a good idea,

          "Of course experience suggests that when a bug is created once, it is propagated everywhere. Apple has been a real master of this lately"

          Quality control has gone down in the past few years especially in respect of macOS releases. The late Steve Jobs would not have tolerated that sloppiness.

  6. Synkronicity

    I never got the impression this was about merging operating systems and user interfaces so much as it was about merging software ecosystems. Which would make sense considering the Mac App Store pales in comparison to the iOS App Store.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Indeed, Apple's OSX GUI has been remarkably consistant. Examples include insisting that MS Office for Mac retains menus, and that multitouch gestures on trackpads are an addition, and not a replacement, to keyboard shortcuts etc.

  7. katrinab Silver badge

    Not the same thing

    You could port OSX and all the applications that run on it to ARM in such a way that an end-user would not notice anything different, other than in speed and battery life.

    Given that many software suppliers take a different UI design approach for iPhone and iPad, even though they are the exact same operating system, there is no reason why they couldn't continue to also take a different approach for iPad / Desktop+Laptop.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One of the features of a Unix-style OS is that it's layered with well defined interfaces between layers. It's not as big a deal with such an OS to change the top layer, the UI, as it would be if it were built as a monolithic whole.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      re not such a big deal

      It's not as big a deal with such an OS to change the top layer, the UI,

      given the difficulties that Canonical trying to make a new Top layer/UI had I tend to thing that it is a bit harder than most people think it is.

      As for apple, their two UI's seem to work most of the time. Moving away from Intel is probably no big deal for them given the ARMiness of IOS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re not such a big deal

        The problem is not changing the display system and the desktop manager... depending on if it's installed on a desktop or a phone - that's a static problem easily enough to solve. Even Windows is less "monolithic" than people think, although it's evidently more "integrated".

        The problem is to have applications that can dynamically adapt to the "environment" they are run in any given moment, maybe even when it switch while in use because you dock it to a keyboard, mouse and larger screen.

        And it's not enough to simply display the same application on a larger monitor, just enlarging and re-positioning some chubby elements, you may want a different UI because of the different input methods - you may want to use more complex features and take advantage of the increased precision, for example.

        Think about a photo editing application. While in mobile/tablet mode you may want relatively basic controls, especially as long as your input devices is your finger, and a UI usable on a smaller screen.

        As soon as a pen, mouse, keyboard and larger monitor is detected, you may want more and more powerful editing tools, and precision ones as well, with more granular control on inputs, and better use of the available screen space.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: re not such a big deal

        "given the difficulties that Canonical trying to make a new Top layer/UI had"

        As far as I could make out from Unity they were trying to make the same sort of one-size-fits-all Frankeninterface as W8.

        OTOH it's perfectly possible to have a choice of KDE/Gnome/Mate/XFCE/whatever at login time. Not, not install time or boot time, login. That's interchangeability.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: re not such a big deal

          "As far as I could make out from Unity they were trying to make the same sort of one-size-fits-all Frankeninterface as W8."

          And by the sounds of it, this is exactly what Apple are contemplating, one OS from the iPhone to the Mac Pro.

          I won't say that they're going to mess it up though. This is Apple we're talking about, they don't always seem to obey the same 'laws' as other tech companies. After all, Microsoft spent years trying to make a tablet PC that people wanted to buy, but it wasn't until the iPad that people actually wanted one.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: re not such a big deal

          “OTOH it's perfectly possible to have a choice of KDE/Gnome/Mate/XFCE/whatever at login time. Not, not install time or boot time, login. That's interchangeability.”

          I used to use ion3 (tiling WM) as my main window manager, and fire up xnest to have xfce embedded in one of the tiles for the odd occasion when I needed it...

          Don’t even need to wait for login (although programs were started in one or the other)

      3. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: re not such a big deal

        given the difficulties that Canonical trying to make a new Top layer/UI had I tend to thing that it is a bit harder than most people think it is.

        Canonical only had difficulty with making the new UI because, like Windows 8, Windows 10, and GNOME 3, it was unsure what it wanted to be, and somehow that always seems to play out as desktop PC users being asked to adapt to a completely inappropriate and needlessly klunky phone UI on devices that, in terms of user input, have little similarity with phones.

        Had the Canonical devs followed the Unix philosophy of "do one thing and do it well," they would not have been trying to create one UI for all devices. Hell, if the Unix philosophy is too highbrow for them, try Curly's fireside chat from the 1991 movie City Slickers, in the scene where Curly (played by the legendary Jack Palance) was explaining his philosophy to Mitch (Billy Crystal). One UI to rule them all is one of those ideas that seemed like a good idea at the time, but once attempted, soon revealed itself to be unworkable.

        In my diatribes against Windows 10, I've often cited Apple as having gotten this one right by opting out of the unified UI, and I've remarked that Apple would never have released a disjointed mess like Windows 8 or 10. As much as I have always seen Apple as the "bad guy," one thing I cannot fault them for is demanding excellence in their UI design, whatever the particulars of that design may be. If they stick to that, this "half and half" idea will necessarily be rejected once again by Apple as it has been in the past, for the very same reasons Tim Cook and others have articulated.

      4. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: re not such a big deal

        "given the difficulties that Canonical trying to make a new Top layer/UI had I tend to thing that it is a bit harder than most people think it is."

        That's a problem with Canonical's approach, not with the underlying ability to do it. Right now, you have your choice of at least a half-dozen very different desktop UIs for Linux, so clearly it is far from an insurmountable problem.

        1. Chemist

          Re: re not such a big deal

          "Right now, you have your choice of at least a half-dozen very different desktop UIs for Linux, so clearly it is far from an insurmountable problem."

          AND have them running at the same time.

      5. Joaney I've

        Re: re not such a big deal

        >>It's not as big a deal with such an OS to change the top layer, the UI,

        >given the difficulties that Canonical trying to make a new Top layer/UI had I tend to thing that it is a bit harder than most people think it is.

        It wasn't that changing a layer in a well-architected system was difficult. It was that the new design chosen for the layer was 'sub-optimal'.

      6. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: re not such a big deal

        given the difficulties that Canonical trying to make a new Top layer/UI had I tend to thing that it is a bit harder than most people think it is.

        I'm not so sure Canonical underestimated the task so much, but they certainly overestimated their capability - Unity 8 & get phone partners & Mir display 'server' & Snap & other investments....+ day to day support of a Linux distro fairly popular on the corporate stage.

    2. LeeE Silver badge

      "One of the features of a Unix-style OS is that it's layered with well defined interfaces between layers."

      ...until systemd gets ported to it.

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Merged OS shows a poverty of imagination at Apple

    Seems Apple have no idea what to do with an iMac/MacBook apart from to turn it into another iDevice. So far, that means jettisoning features and bashing square pegs into round holes. XServe gone, servers gone, routers gone, time capsule gone, displays gone, crapper UI, server management about to go.

    What used to be an ecosystem will probably stagger on until XCode can be made to run on tablets.

  10. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Apple could have made a Touch Mac years ago

    the technology was all there and readily available.

    Yet they didn't... There was obviously money to be made... errrr...? Perhaps not. Sales of the Microsoft Surface and other Windows Touchy/feely devices have not been exactly stellar now have they.

    Apple has been hampered in recent years by the failure of Intel to get low power CPU's out when they say they would. Taking the CPU design in-house when their version of ARM CPU's in iDevices already outperform the competition makes sense when you look at Intel and the limitations of the CPU's that Intel make that are suitable for Mac's. 16Gb of ram does not cut in this day and age.

    Taking control of the CPU design is the next logical step for them. After all, they are designing their own GPU's these days.

    And there is one less link in the supply chain for Ming Cho to spread fluff about. That can't be bad.

    Anyway, where is he? He's been silent on this whole move Mac's to ARM thing. Perhaps there really is nothing going on in the supply chain to back up the posts by Bloomberg who in recent times do seem to be rather down on Apple (like the rest of Wall St).

    1. Joaney I've

      Re: Apple could have made a Touch Mac years ago

      >Taking control of the CPU design is the next logical step for them.

      Taking control of the tweaks to the CPU design that was created by ARM and licensed by Apple with License To Tweak?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Apple could have made a Touch Mac years ago

        > Taking control of the tweaks to the CPU design that was created by ARM and licensed by Apple with License To Tweak?

        They do more than just tweak ARM, they have designed their own GPUs and other silicon and integrated the whole lot into very capable SoCs.

        Every ARM licencee can tweak, but few have Apple's resources. Add to that their control of the OS and drivers.

    2. Joaney I've

      Re: Apple could have made a Touch Mac years ago

      >Apple has been hampered in recent years by the failure of Intel to

      So Intel regards its mission to be not hampering Apple?

      And it's failed in recent years?

      Interesting perspective.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Devil

    Unified?

    I mentioned a unified macOS and iOS a few years ago, and an Apple Dev I know laughed, and told me it would never happen. It was against the Jobs Law...

    I wonder how he likes his crow prepared?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Never is a long time

      I cringe whenever I hear techy folk making massive statements with the word "never" in them.

    2. fandom Silver badge

      Re: Unified?

      On the other hand the 'authoritative source' is a Bloomberg anal-yst

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Unified?

      Clearly nobody told that dev that Jobs had died.

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Unified?

      > I mentioned a unified macOS and iOS

      That's not what the Bloomberg report is talking about. OSX on ARM is not the same as OSX merging with iOS any more than they already are (you can write common code for a messaging application, but use a different GUI for iOS and OSX)

      All this report suggests is that Apple are mulling over OSX on ARM - ideal for the sort of workloads (browsing, blogging) a MacBook is currently put to, given the battery life gains to be made.

      Apple will maintain controls and guides as to how a small-screen finger-driven GUI works, how a stylus-driven application works, how a predominately finger driven GUI with optional keyboard works, and how a non-touchscreen desktop GUI works.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the PC was a commodity, and customers wouldn't pay the extra pennies"

    That was the mistake. Many couldn't see the many built-to-spec PCs many users needed because your average "beige box" really didn't deliver what you needed. And you paid extra "pennies" for them, and not only for gaming.

    Productivity in many sector was against the "one-size-fits-all" idea behind the "commodity" philosophy. When the main Windows OS diverged - Win 9x and NT - it was clear some people were ready to pay more for more powerful, more productive PCs.

    Apple was still able to fill a niche - but not so small - of users who need PCs with specific professional features - something Sun instead failed to find - Solaris didn't deliver anything much better than Linux could do - at a far cheaper price, and on cheaper hardware.

    Eventually, Dell bought Alienware, and delivered highly configurable PCs - including the high-end Precision and XPS lines. Yet, still, if you want a specific high-end PC, you may need to build it yourself, just, still, they may not be counted as "shipped".

    But still, PC makers but Apple couldn't really see new form factors and human interface coming - MS tried sometimes to throw a stone in the still water, but its Tablet PC effort never went far - it had to design the hardware itself to shake the Windows market.

    But MS too had big issues to understand UIs on different platforms, first trying a desktop-like UI on mobiles with WinCE, than a tablet/mobile UI on desktop in Windows 8, and partially 10.

    If Apple can deliver a truly adaptive UI - applications that can understand what human interface is active, and switch to adapt, it may have a winner.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

    if there's anyone who can make it work, it's Apple.

    <Cue the el reg bashing>

    On a daily basis, I struggle with (and curse the developers of) Windows Server 2012 - which has a nightmare UI.

    It's not a server GUI - it's not a desktop GUI - it's some sort of stupidity in between.

    And not all apps understand powershell - so that option is out.

    Curse you Sinofsky and the rest of your muppets

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

      It is a tablet UI. Try administering it remotely using the RDP app on an iPad. It actually works reasonably well, provided you don't have to type anything, like for example the stupidly long PowerShell incantations required to do anything more than the basics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

        Tried that.

        The concept of a right click as being the main concept click action in RDP - especially, from a device that has no right click by default is non-intuitive to me.

        Hell, it's non-intuitive even for a device that has right-click like a windows client.

        How could anyone look at this shell compared to 2000/2003/2008 and say 'this is a great idea - lets go ahead with this'

        And yes, i agree - stupidly long powershell commands do not help.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

      "if there's anyone who can make it work, it's Apple."

      The Apple that possessed that sort of magic stopped existing a few years back.

      1. Joaney I've

        Re: I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

        >"if there's anyone who can make it work, it's Apple."

        >

        >The Apple that possessed that sort of magic stopped existing a few years back.

        Did such magic ever exist except as part of Magic Thinking?

        My experience is that Apple have always made as much carp and as much good stuff as most other system creators (or tweakers of others' systems, in Apple's case), but they have an audience that is unusually susceptible to bull**** about who was the creative force.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

          "Did such magic ever exist except as part of Magic Thinking?"

          There's a reason I chose to use the word "magic". :)

      2. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

        " "if there's anyone who can make it work, it's Apple."

        The Apple that possessed that sort of magic stopped existing a few years back. "

        Not necessarily. The ace up Apple's sleeve has been their mostly successful attempts to retain control of look-and-feel in iOS app UIs. The problem UWP faced was the fact that it was something new, and Windows already has layer upon layer of UI cruft -- how many different load/save dialogues are there in the Windows 10 interface for legacy support, for example? Windows never abstracted the APIs enough away from presentation that they could be considered interchangeable.

        iOS, on the other hand, was built ground-up on the philosophy "when we change, you change" and "if you don't do it our way, your apps will break. Apple refused to repeat the legacy trap that haunts Windows (and MacOS, to a certain extent) which means they now have an established platform and ecosystem with a high degree of future-proofing. iOS apps that don't rely on specific hardware configurations are already a cat's whisker from being MacOS apps, and it wouldn't be all that hard to rewrite the APIs for non-touch.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

          "The problem UWP faced was the fact that it was something new"

          I disagree. The main problem with it was that it was an entirely inappropriate interface for people who weren't using a handheld device.

          1. The Indomitable Gall

            Re: I dislike the idea of a converged UI...however

            " "The problem UWP faced was the fact that it was something new"

            I disagree. The main problem with it was that it was an entirely inappropriate interface for people who weren't using a handheld device."

            If the existing Windows API had been genuinely abstract, UWP could have been one API with two or more presentation methods, and the problem is gone.

            Windows has always failed to decouple behaviour from presentation.

  14. jonnyo

    Why offer an $800 iPad that can do the work of a $1000 Mac? One word: profit.

    It's been reported that Apple's services division is, all by itself, the equivalent of a Fortune 100 company. The overwhelming majority of that service revenue is coming from the iOS side of the empire, not the Mac. A $2000 MacBook Pro might do a better job of filling the corporate coffers at the point of initial purchase, but there's a far smaller pool of potential customers to make that purchase. An $800 iPad Pro has both a larger customer pool and a greater potential for service revenue over the course of its lifecycle. By changing the purchase model in this way Apple protects their enviable profit margins while lowering the cost of entry, which is essential for continued global growth.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why offer an $800 iPad that can do the work of a $1000 Mac? One word: profit.

      Also, it would get around Hilter's objections to the iPad when it was first introduced...

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Why offer an $800 iPad that can do the work of a $1000 Mac? One word: profit.

      if I actually NEED a slab for something, I'll get a cheapo $50 'droid slab.

      99% or more of the "computing" I do requires a KEYBOARD AND A MOUSE. Sticking my fingers between my eyeballs and what I'm looking at [as well as lifting hand WAY off of the keyboard, and having to put it back on 'home row' again] is ANTI-PRODUCTIVITY.

      As long as Apple doesn't do "a Micro-shaft" and try to UNIFY THE UI, it should be fine. Because you can't do a keyboard+mouse on a slab in any kind of PRACTICAL way, and putting the SLAB interface on a desktop is why Windows "Ape" and WIN-10-NIC *STINK* *SO* *BAD*. [that and the slurp, ads, and "forced", but the UI is the worst part of it all].

      I am so SICK of the Australis "everything is a slab" MIGRATION [over the cliff like lemmings]. It makes me want to VOMIT. Apple needs to "think different" and *NOT* *GO* *THERE*!!!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Calm down Bob, all the report suggests is that a mature OS that is built around mouse and keyboard is being ported to silicon that is more power efficient.

        It's successfully jumped architecture before, from Power to Intel. More than once, if you count it in its NeXtStep clothing.

        It has nothing to do with the UI.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft was insanely jealous of Apple's ecosystem

    That's why the Metro UI happened: Microsoft wants to leverage upon its desktop monopoly to hook users into the Microsoft ecosystem (app store, Windows phones). Microsoft even acquired Nokia's handset business for this.

    Part of it was fear on Microsoft's part, due to declining PC sales.

    This leveraging is done by blurring the lines between a touch-centric UI and a mouse-centric UI... the result was the claustrophobic mess that was Win 8. Win 10 was a half-hearted 'mea culpa' from Microsoft, however it was more of a platform for the new CEO SatNad to impose his personal vision and will on the product, notably data mining, cloud computing (Onedrive, Cortana), always-on Windows updates and 'Windows as a service'.

    It is my personal opinion that Tim Cook is a lacklustre CEO who is incapable of letting Apple achieve its untapped potential. Apple needs a visionary guy like Steve Jobs, not some status quo logistics guy who evidently botched the release of the iPhone X.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft was insanely jealous of Apple's ecosystem

      "Win 10 was a half-hearted 'mea culpa' from Microsoft"

      I'd say less than half-hearted. Win 10 is awful. The only reason that people accept it is because it replaced the even more awful WIn 8.

      An actual mea culpa would have been to produce an OS that genuinely addressed the problems with Win 8.

      1. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft was insanely jealous of Apple's ecosystem

        Win 10 is awful. The only reason that people accept it is because it replaced the even more awful WIn 8.

        Win 8's problems, though, are generally of the skin-deep variety. It takes some effort, but with things like Classic Shell (which should keep working since 8.x has not been in active development in years, even though it just this year exited the mainstream support period), Old New Explorer, install_wim_tweak, Old New Explorer, and a custom theme of your choice, Windows 8 can become pretty good. I am a stickler for the traditional UI, and Win 8.1 is the only version of Windows I still have installed on anything I use on a daily basis.

        I don't see Win 10 as being an improvement over Windows 8.1, really. Over the original Windows 8, sure, but even then, Classic Shell and the other programs would have fixed it all up nicely. I don't see how the Win 10 start menu, the disjointed mess that it is, is any better than the full-screen version of the same in Windows 8. I hate them both, but the 8.1 version is somewhat less bothersome to me. With that, the return of the start button, and the ability to boot straight to the desktop, I don't see how 10 is really any better than 8.1. They both stink pretty bad, but only one can feasibly be corrected with aftermarket tools.

        You still get to turn updates off on 8.1; no silliness with "metered connections," where MS promises to only download updates if it thinks you really really need them (so it's still their choice), or active hours (which you can't set to 24 hours a day, as I would; you must still allow MS to have some time). You can defer updates with some versions of Windows 10, but even then MS may introduce a "bug" that causes it to go ahead and install feature updates even when they are in deferral, as reportedly happened with 1709 four separate times.

        Of course, if you use 10 Home, you don't get that option at all, so stop complaining, you beta tester drudge. Get back to work! We don't pay you to not test Windows! (Well, actually, we don't pay you at all. You pay us! But still, get back to work.)

        Windows 8.x never had the permanent beta quality arising from "Windows as a Service," nor did it ever have the more than an hour of down time whenever it damn well felt like installing an upgrade you don't even want, during which time I really hope you didn't need your PC for anything important, 'cause you're not getting to use it. "Windows as a Service" is the worst Windows 10 "feature" by a long shot.

        Windows 8.1 has the abominable Settings app like Windows 10 does, but unlike 10, most of the functionality of Control Panel is still intact, so you can consign Settings to oblivion and still be able to do things. The few things that 8.1 did move to Settings can easily be done by alternative non-Metro means. You can't do this in Win 10; the UWP garbage is just unavoidable. I never see any Metro anything in my 8.1; every app (including Store) is long gone, and they haven't come back. I haven't seen Settings in the better part of a year, and I don't need it.

        Win 10 is worse by far than Windows 8.1, and had 10 not come along, 8.x would have continued to evolve in the right direction. Win 8.2 was in the planning stages, and was codenamed "Threshold" at the time that the previews were published in the tech press. Win 8.2 would have had more desktop-friendly features, including the option for the Windows 7 style start menu. MS had miscalculated badly how 8 was going to be received, but back then they still had the crazy idea that they should deliver what customers want to improve the adoption rate. Then Nadella came along, with his new "friendlier" Microsoft, and the idea was to make Windows into something that obviously would not be well-received, but to force-feed it to us by virtue of their monopoly status. So friendly!

        Of course, "Threshold" mutated into something terrible after that. There would be no Windows 8.2; now the "Threshold" project was repurposed to be the first release of 10, and the Windows 7 style start menu was history. So was the idea that the PC's owner should have any control over his machine. So was my future in the Windows ecosystem...

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft was insanely jealous of Apple's ecosystem

          I disagree the WIn 8.x is anything but adominable. But you've made a strong case and I think I may have come around to agree that Win 10 is worse.

          1. Updraft102 Silver badge

            Re: Microsoft was insanely jealous of Apple's ecosystem

            I disagree the WIn 8.x is anything but adominable.

            Out of the box, certainly it is, and that stopped me from even considering it at first (I bought my first copy of 7 after 8.1 had been released, and I skipped 8.x intentionally. Unti then I happily used XP, but it was time to enter the 64-bit era, and XP x64 never really seemed all that good).

            When I saw how much modification it took to get 8.1 reasonable, I scoffed at first... why would I want to buy something that I have to put so much work into just to get it into a state of basic usability? Then I realized that even though 7 is far better than 8.x out of the box, I had still installed all kinds of stuff to tweak 7 to be even better. I still used Classic Shell, including Classic Start and Classic Explorer, a custom theme of my own design, 7+ Taskbar Tweaker, and all kinds of registry edits, to customize 7 and make it into exactly what I wanted instead of just kind of what I want.

            If I used all those same things in 8 (and one more: Old New Explorer, to get rid of the ribbon in Windows Explorer), I could transform it from "WTF is this crap?" to being a dead ringer for 7 (and I mean really a dead ringer; people have said that 10 is "just like 7" on the desktop, but it's not even close). If I am going to be modifying it with all kinds of addons anyway, what difference does it make if it started out "not too bad" or "WTF is this crap," so long as you end in the same place?

  16. J27

    Mac OS has been effectively on life support for years. Perhaps this will make Apple care about updating it or on the flip side, perhaps they've been planning this for a while and that's why Mac OS is on life support.

  17. Updraft102 Silver badge

    Still waiting on the switch back

    It was three years [Still waiting!] before it switched back, with Windows 10 name TBD.

    FIFY, the best I could with the paucity of data regarding when or if this switch back will ever happen.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Mac OS has been effectively on life support for years.

      You know what would breathe new life into it? They could release it as a standalone software product for PCs. With Windows in the loo as it is now, and a lot of people afraid to make the jump to the scary world of Linux (not my sentiment; I use Linux myself), the market share of MacOS (perhaps re-renamed to OSX for its PC version?) would skyrocket overnight.

      For this to work, Apple would have to thread the needle between the traditional Mac model of MacOS/OSX only running on Apple hardware (but generally working well since they control both) and the traditional PC model of the OS running on anyone's hardware-- with the OS publisher catching the blame for substandard hardware and drivers over which they have no control (which has long bedeviled Microsoft). They would have to preserve the idea that Apple products "just work" while emphasizing that any problems you have with OSX on your PC hardware is a function of your PC not being "Apple" good.

      I don't buy into the legendary quality of Apple hardware myself, but Apple knows that a lot of people still do, and they would want to preserve that. That would be one reason not to ever do what I suggest; some people, regardless of how Apple spins it, are going to blame Apple when OSX runs like crap on their "Great Value" brand PC. Still, with the Mac platform languishing, there's not much to lose. The Apple devotees will never buy anything but Apple hardware; they have bought into the hype already. The rest of us are an untapped market, and doubling or tripling the MacOS/OSX market share overnight would spur software development which would in turn make genuine Macs more appealing.

      I know it's just a pipe dream, but I would love to see Microsoft hoisted on its own petard here. Forcing people to accept crap via monopoly tends only to work for a short while... just ask the Internet Explorer devs. Personally, I find Linux more than good enough, but I know a lot of people want the greater hand-holding that MacOS/OSX can provide. I'd even try it myself... I may not end up buying it, but I would certainly give it a fair shot. Only on my hardware, though; I won't ever be buying their hardware.

      1. tip pc

        Apple had a clone program in the mid 90's.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macintosh_clone#Official_Macintosh_clone_program

        It didn't go well, i think they realised that actually they needed to control everything and could charge less for more if they missed out all the other players that go into making the product.

        People buy Mac's as they are not "computer people" and want their thing to work. Computer people forget about the countless hours they spend setting their stuff up, at even £10 per hour added to the cost of a generic machine, it'll probably cost more than an equivalent Mac, and still requires ongoing support.

        Having got both parents win 10 laptops and ipads and iphones, they barely use the laptop now, and seldom use the ipad and prefer the iphone 6s plus models they have. I barely have to do anything to them and they are always up to date. the last time i saw the laptops, they hadn't been updated in years, AV out of date etc. costs me ~£1k to visit each parent so i'm now quids in over the last few years and they are safe online!!

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Still waiting on the switch back

      "when or if this switch back will ever happen."

      when the windows platform dies the horrible death it deserves, and is REPLACED by something else in the minds of consumers.

      Without marketing bucks, this isn't happening soon. People will get fed up with Micro-shaft eventually, but it's not enough pain *YET*. give it time, Micro-shaft will create that pain, because their management is CLUELESS as to the consequences of their actions. They treat customers like PEASANTS after all.

  18. Sean Jennings

    2+2=8

    The author's maths are amiss.

    The original Bloomberg article refers to Apple using its own A series chips for running macOS.

    Nothing about Apple merging its operating systems, though they do certainly currently use a common kernel at the moment, namely UNIX BSD.

    Apple have stated previously they don't believe in one OS fits all approach, hence there is tvOS, watchOS, iOS, and macOS. I would be surprised if they were to change strategy simply because they ditch Intel microporcessors for their Macs.

  19. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Linux pulled it off

    I run Linux on my servers, as my desktop OS, and on my phone.

    Apple & Microsoft do need to catch up.

    And how many people use FVWM as their window manager of choice... hands up!

    I said... hands up! C'mon gotta be SOMEBODY out there...

  20. Simon 4

    As others have said, OS != UI.

    Linux demonstrates this point. And Raspberry Pi is a fantastic example of all the different possibilities with a common hardware platform. With Apple, the common platform could easily be the kernel and the processor family.

    I have raised my doubts about ARM Macs in another thread. I’m not sure how Arm would replace my i7 video editing rig, using multi camera angles.

    But the point I really want to make is that, just because Microsoft screwed this up multiple times, it doesn’t mean that Apple will make the same mistakes. In fact, it makes it MORE likely that Apple will learn from the mistakes of Microsoft.

    Apple seems much more focused on the user experience, and that being the driving force behind the development of many of their key products, like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

    How many years have we heard the rumours about Apple’s take on the TV? Only to be released when it serves a real need.

    I think Andrew’s opinion is somewhat coloured by the many-year bad relationship that El Reg has with Cupertino.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      > I have raised my doubts about ARM Macs in another thread. I’m not sure how Arm would replace my i7 video editing rig, using multi camera angles.

      Very easily, if the ARM chip has the same help as your Core i7 gets from GPUs, hardware Codecs and fast storage and IO.

  21. turgu1

    Has a serious developper for the last 30 years, I need to use both Windows and Linux on the same computer as OSX, in a 64 bits intel mode. This Apple orientation will make me go somewhere else of Mac computers. I've been using Apple equipment since 2006 (both iMacs and MacBook Pro). But now, I consider seriously acquiring new non-Apple equipment if they do that move. Their move to Intel processors in 2006 was the main reason for me to consider their equipment. Now, it's the reverse of it. This move make sense for consumers, but not for me.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      There would be nothing stopping Apple from releasing ARM MacBooks and ARM+Intel MacBook Pros - the latter only using the more power-hungry chip when it needs to. Intel have the packaging technology to combine heterogenous chips, as we have seen with their recent Core + AMD package.

      As a CAD user, I'm used to the concept of only being able to use computers with GPUs, and so paying extra for hardware that many users don't need.

    2. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

      VirtualPC allowed PPC users to run Windows, I'm sure there will be similar toolsets for dev/QA who need crossplatform functionality.

  22. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    It's just a stupid OS

    This is not where the action is at.

    A scheduler, a virtual memory manager, IPC primitives, interrupt dispatchers and something to plug in device drivers, networking stacks and filesystems. Oh, and security. How hard can it be? If you have a "microkernel" you can even claim to have everything in a few KByte.

    Unless you have special requirements regarding extra security, hard real-time constraints and "low-power devices" you practically can't fail.

    The stuff that is built on top is what's important. That's what is interesting to the end user, the application developer and the architect. That's where the action is..

    Oh, and Unix is NOT "layered2 by any means. You do your syscall, you gets your results. That's it.

  23. pauhit

    The lesser of two evils

    To be absolutely honest I would rather have windows be on top of the market rather than apple, as the companies stand right now. If only for the simple reason that mac users tend to 'drink the coolaid' so to speak. I am sure that exceptions exist, but I have never seen a microsoft user who did not have anything disparaging to say about windows. Apple as a company reminds me of google; a company which in the public eye has an undeservedly inflated reputation, which like google, it abuses.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: The lesser of two evils

      Apple as a company reminds me of google; a company which in the public eye has an undeservedly inflated reputation, which like google, it abuses.

      Google has that? Everyone I know hates Google... I know a guy who gave away a Chromebook in disgust when he realized he had to create a Google account just to use it. I would have kept it and put Linux on it, but he's no tech guy; he wanted a cheap way to get to the web that didn't involve Windows, and it didn't work out for him. Google has its fanboys, but then so does MS (oddly enough). I loathe them all, personally.

  24. Jason Hindle Bronze badge

    There's more than one way to skin an app...

    There’s also more than one way to skin an OS; a trick that Microsoft sadly missed as they collectively practiced their favourite yoga position*. Apple may well converge their divergent branches such that the average iOS or OSX user wouldn’t really experience much of a difference. True, there’s lots that can go wrong, but a botched solution is hardly forgone conclusion.

    * The one where the practitioner demonstrates tremendous core strength and flexibility by bending over backwards and sticking their head up their own arse. The real skill is in the removal.

    1. Chemist

      Re: There's more than one way to skin an app...

      "The real skill is in the removal."

      Recurses !

  25. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Beancounters

    They must be pretty poor beancounters if they think a merged OS would help them. They've got an awful lot of beans to count already, acquired by the current strategy in the face of Microsoft who've tried combining them and ended up wrecking mobile and taking desktop to the brink.

    Admittedly Apple are good at doing things Microsoft failed at, but it doesn't look a good idea on the face of it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple will do this right.

  27. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Two words:

    "Mac Chromebook"

    Obviously they wouldn't call it that; but Google's Chromebook is eating Apple's lunch in the education market. That's partly due to the cost differential, of course; but also partly due to the fact that typing or writing -- key school activities, or at least they used to be -- are crap on a touch screen. If Apple could deliver iOS app compatibility in a reasonably-priced, thin, and light clamshell form factor, they might have something competitive -- assuming that they also sort out the device management thing.

    Adults who mostly web-surf and email might also be interested in a laptop-lite that doesn't include the Google slurp.

    1. Rockets

      Re: Two words:

      I think you're on the money here. Apple will kill off the ageing and no longer loved, by Apple, Macbook Air and replace it with a ARM powered Apple Netbook/Chromebook competitor that will have a cut down version of Mac OS on it that can run iOS apps as there's heaps of those for education.

  28. DougS Silver badge

    These rumors have been around for years

    When was the first time we heard that Apple was going to abandon Intel? The only news here is that some analyst has decided it will happen, but we've seen the same round of articles all based on the same questionable source for the past half decade. Ditto with the speculation about Apple merging iOS and macOS.

    I'll believe it when I see it, until then I don't think this is worth even speculating on. Been there, done that, and the rumors have always been false before. If Apple wanted to do this, they would have already done it before. Why would it be attractive to do now but not three years ago?

  29. Brett24

    Touchbar and watch pulse

    The Trojan horse for this transition is the sliver of iOS at the top of every MacBook Pro being made...the touchbar...also when it all shifts to an Augmented Really interface experience neither macOS nor iOS will be fully enough. It will require Siri voice feedback and touch on watches and biometric authorization...watch maybe able to uniquely identify your pulse distinctly enough to know if it is you...

  30. JBowler

    Hum; so you like Apple?

    Body, body, dead body.

  31. PGj

    Unified operating system: It’s way overdue!

    To quote the big feller himself: “You must eat your own babies, or somebody else will.” Changing from vision-based leadership to process based will be the undoing of Apple. What have they really done lately? Remove the ear-piece hole! Anything else? Why didn't Apple lead the drive for 2:1 or multi use of laptops? Where is Apple in the next wave, making the mobile phone the core of end-user computing? It’s a sad indictment that today ‘iPhone’ represents ‘Old white males mobile’.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Unified operating system: It’s way overdue!

      Why didn't Apple lead the drive for 2:1 or multi use of laptops?

      Because it's a bad idea, maybe. Touchscreens are a kludge that become necessary when the form factor of a handheld device makes a mouse or touchpad and a real keyboard unwieldy or impossible. When the hardware keyboard and mouse/touchpad ARE available, as when a 2 in 1 is in the docked or laptop configuration, touch isn't needed, and that means the massive UI compromises to make touch work (at the expense of workflow, intuitiveness, information scent, convenience, and resistance to fatigue) can be jettisoned as well.

      That dual mode also means dual UI and dual input regimes, and that leads directly to the kind of "neither fish nor fowl" Windows 8, Windows 10, GNOME 3, or Unity user interfaces that have each caused much consternation and gnashing of teeth, not to mention the exodus of former users. The only way I could ever see that kind of thing working would be if the devices had the full desktop UI and the full touch UI on board, with each "app" also having separate and distinct designed-in UIs. By this, I mean that both the OS and each "app" that runs on it would have two distinct user interfaces designed for each usage regime, not one that is designed for mobile and "adapts" to desktop, because that does not work).

      It takes a lot more than replacing a hamburger menu with a menubar and reflowing things to make a mobile UI into a *proper* desktop UI. There are a lot of subtle differences (like the inherent precision of a mouse and its ability to use hover effects, not to mention right and middle click) that, when added up, make the two environments too different to ever work under one UI regime.

      That's why Apple never did it... because it could never be done to Apple's standards of UI consistency. Microsoft has no standards... just look at the mess we've had since 8. There's a Settings app and a Control Panel, and it has been like this for five years. Some things are only in Settings, others only in Control Panel, and it's up to you to guess which is where. The UI of both 8 and 10 has been half "mobile" and half desktop for just as long, with a level of inconsistency and lack of polish that Apple probably would not even accept in a beta, let alone in release for half a decade.

      It's time we give up on this idea of one UI that works across multiple devices. It doesn't. We need one UI designed as a touch UI for use on touch devices with apps that are designed to use touch, and another designed as a traditional PC interface for use with traditional PCs and programs. There's no reason for the two even to come in contact with one another if the device is not a convertible or 2 in 1, as the vast, vast majority aren't.

  32. onefang Silver badge
    Coat

    Marzipan?

    If Apple can hold the patent on rectangles with rounded corners, couldn't Google hold a copyright / patent on naming OSes after desserts?

    I'll get my coat, I'm hungry and due for a visit to a supermarket so I can eat. Wonder what I'll get for dessert?

  33. TheGreatCabbage

    If Apple starts saving money by using cheaper chips, their products will get so much cheaper, right? ...Right?

  34. Jove Bronze badge

    Not a great article

    It's initial premise is flawed. It's assessment of the motivations is flawed due to a skewed outlook.

  35. picturethis
    Go

    GUI != App

    I'll start out by saying: I know nothing about writing/designing software for the Apple ecosystem. So I have no credibility there. Mostly because I don't like the wall-garden (authoritarian) ecosystems.

    But I will say that almost any software design that employs loosely coupled systems that provide a separation of concerns (i.e. GUI != App) that are event driven (i.e. communication between GUI & business logic) has lower overall effort and cost during its product lifecycle. Not to mention usually lower number of total defects.

    That's not say that it's easier to design, because it's not, but in the long-run it's much easier to maintain and move to newer technologies (NT, anyone?). Hurd notwithstanding, most consumer (i.e. not real-time) apps would benefit from this approach, IM(25+ years of experience)O.

    Running on a common core set of software services (OS) on a common core set of hardware (ARM) is a good goal, as long as the GUI-side (another common set of services) of things is left independent so it can provide the best End-user experiences for the specific platform being targeted.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019