MACOS Mojave and the fu­ture of the Mac

The lat­est macos up­date proves Ap­ple is still in­ter­ested in keep­ing the Mac a tool for power users.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY DAN MOREN

“The Mac keeps go­ing for­ever.”

So said Ap­ple se­nior vice pres­i­dent Phil Schiller in an in­ter­view in this very pub­li­ca­tion ( go.mac­world.com/30yr) on the oc­ca­sion of the com­put­ing plat­form’s 30th an­niver­sary in 2014. With this week’s re­lease of macos Mojave ( go.mac­world. com/upmj), the modern ver­sion of the Mac’s op­er­at­ing sys­tem hit its fif­teenth ma­jor re­lease, and cel­e­brated its sev­en­teen-and-a-half birth­day—quickly clos­ing in on out­liv­ing its pre­de­ces­sor, the clas­sic Mac OS.

Mojave charts some new direc­tions for the Mac, most no­table of which is the abil­ity to run IOS apps with lit­tle to no mod­i­fi­ca­tion. That fea­ture has its fair share of short­com­ings and has also caused a de­gree of con­ster­na­tion from some

long­time Mac users who don’t want peanut but­ter in their choco­late.

But it seems un­likely Ap­ple’s go­ing to back away from the idea of bring­ing more IOS into the Mac—the for­mer is, af­ter all, the more pop­u­lar of the com­pany’s two plat­forms, and with more than 1.3 bil­lion ac­tive de­vices over­all, it’d be strange for Ap­ple not to fig­ure out a way to bring them to­gether. But what’s equally clear is that Ap­ple is try­ing to bal­ance in­cor­po­rat­ing IOS with keep­ing the Mac the Mac.

IN­TER­FACES

The big­gest crit­i­cism levied against the

IOS apps that Ap­ple has brought to the Mac—news, Voice Me­mos, Home, and Stocks—is that they don’t feel par­tic­u­larly Mac-like. They’re one-win­dow apps with too-big but­tons that seem clearly de­signed for a touch-based in­ter­face. In par­tic­u­lar, many have seized upon the in­con­gruity and in­util­ity of some­thing like ios’s date picker when used with a key­board and point­ing de­vice.

Mean­while, oth­ers have won­dered if the ad­di­tion of th­ese IOS apps, with lit­tle in the way of in­ter­face changes, might presage a touch in­ter­face com­ing to the Mac. I’m far from op­posed to such a thing ( go. mac­world.com/tsmc)— touch is the de­fault way most peo­ple in­ter­act with their tech­nol­ogy th­ese days; if the Mac is to keep go­ing for­ever, it can’t re­main an un­chang­ing mono­lith. As oth­ers be­side me have noted, you only have to work with an ipad and a phys­i­cal key­board for a lit­tle while to re­al­ize how in­stinc­tive it be­comes to reach up and touch the screen. (And I know I’m not the only one to re­strain them­selves from such an im­pulse when jump­ing be­tween my ipad and my Macbook Air.)

What we’ve seen from Ap­ple with th­ese apps so far is only a proof of con­cept. Yes, you can move th­ese sim­ple apps over and they’ll run. They aren’t op­ti­mized or re­ally even de­signed for the Mac. None of which is to say they can’t be. Over the next cou­ple years as Ap­ple no doubt re­fines this sys­tem, we’ll get a bet­ter idea of what ad­di­tional changes can be made to IOS apps that jump to the Mac and how they

can be good cit­i­zens on this new plat­form.

THE MAC STAYS IN THE PIC­TURE

At the same time that IOS is en­croach­ing on the Mac’s ter­ri­tory, Ap­ple is mak­ing it per­fectly clear that Mojave and the pro­gres­sion of macos isn’t about tak­ing away fea­tures from the Mac. Hence the re­newed promi­nence of Quick Ac­tions (née Ser­vices), which not only let you per­form tasks with­out launch­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion, but also bring the Mac’s au­toma­tion pow­ers to the fore­front. Like­wise, the abil­ity to cus­tom­ize which meta­data is dis­played in the Fin­der’s pre­view pane. Both of th­ese are in­di­ca­tions that Ap­ple re­al­izes who most of its Mac users are.

Sim­i­larly, some of the un­der-the-hood changes to Mojave demon­strate that

Ap­ple has been giv­ing more thought to how the Mac dis­tin­guishes it­self from IOS. Dur­ing this year’s World­wide De­vel­op­ers Con­fer­ence key­note, Ap­ple an­nounced that some de­vel­op­ers—in­clud­ing Bare Bones Soft­ware, in whose Bbe­dit I’m writ­ing this very col­umn—would be com­ing to the Mac App Store.

Bare Bones had pre­vi­ously left the Mac App Store in part be­cause of the more oner­ous re­quire­ments of macos’s IOSin­spired sand­box­ing sys­tem, which re­quired com­pro­mis­ing cer­tain pow­er­ful fea­tures of the ap­pli­ca­tion. The fact it is re­turn­ing, and that other ven­dors like

Panic, Mi­crosoft, and Adobe are com­ing along with it, sug­gests that Ap­ple may have loos­ened up those re­stric­tions.

More im­por­tantly, it points to the fact that Ap­ple re­al­izes what’s im­por­tant to Mac users: the pro­grams that they run and care about. If the Mac is the truck to IOS de­vices’ car in Steve Jobs’s old anal­ogy, well, the peo­ple buy­ing a truck want a truck. A Mac with­out th­ese com­plex, long-stand­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, or in which power fea­tures are ig­nored or pushed to the back in fa­vor of newer and shinier apps that ap­peal to con­sumers might in­deed keep go­ing for­ever, as per

Schiller’s state­ment, but it wouldn’t be a Mac so much as a hol­low shell of one. ■

Ap­ple News Mac app.

Ap­ple an­nounced at WWDC 2018 that Bare Bones is bring­ing Bbe­dit back to the Mac App Store.

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