No more version of Mac OS X?

I recently read a, to say the least, interesting prediction about the future of Mac OS X.

In the latest issue of the Swedish Macworld magazine they interviewed a number of developers about iPad and what they believe about it’s future. Amongst them, Jayway iTeam CTO Fredrik claimed/envisioned that iPhone OS X will be the new Mac OS X, and that there will be no Mac OS X 11, and maybe not even a Mac OS X 10.8.

Me myself being interviewed fairly frequently for magazines, I know it can be a misquote or not totally accurate, so I’ll give him the benefit of a doubt. But anyway, what if it were true?

The iPad

Without delving too much into the iPad, and the various opinions about it being either the savior of computers or just being an enormous iPhone, I think we can all agree on that a fair amount of people will use it. And personally, I think the iPhone/iPad OS definitely has its place for less tech-savy users and also for more simple usage like reading mail, surfing the web, playing customized games etc. Seeing people using an iPhone for the first time, it is impressive how fast they learn it and adapt.

Using the screen keyboard on the iPhone (and most likely iPad as well) is tedious and inefficient to a real keyboard. And with the iPad, if you connect a keyboard, it kind of kills the purpose of a tablet-device, and I could just have a laptop instead.

Mac OS X

The main strength of Mac OS X is the many ways you can adapt and customize it. If you just want pretty applications, nice text rendering and easy application installations, that’s fine. But if you want to unleash the raw Unix power, terminal hacking and some deep-level coding, that’s just as much an option. And what I really like about it is the balance between these two, that I can have the best GUI and at the same time the full power behind the scenes.

And, most importantly, I can install and configure any application I want to.

Don’t mix ’em up

I think the iPhone OS will be pretty good for iPad and similar devices, but I would never ever want it to, in any way, replace Mac OS X. Just imagine being forced to use iTunes on your computer, having the almighty App Store decide what you can install, being limited in choice, not to say the least, in choice of web browser, mail application etc. I strongly believe a full operating system will always have its place, especially when it comes to choice and personal control.

If the full Mac OS X would be replaced by something iPhone OS-like, my switch to something Linux-based (probably Ubuntu) would happen very soon.

What are your thoughts?


  • Andy L says:

    I agree 100% with you. My thoughts exactly.

  • David says:

    You have written my thoughts πŸ˜‰

    But i am already using ubuntu on my office workstation and also at home.

  • Fredrik Wärnsbe says:

    Actually, I prefer Ubuntu or Debian above Mac OS as a development platform. In some ways OSX tries to hide its UNIX-heritage which, in my opinion, makes some tasks a bit more tedious than they should be (like getting mod_rewrite working with the apache install that snow leopard ships with).

    I doubt that Apple will abandon OSX. They would abandon the majority of their fans/dedicated users, which could be a suicide. iPhone wouldn't have gotten its initial hype without OSX's tradition of usability.

  • Olly Hodgson says:

    Mac OS X 11 would be Mac OS 10 11. So no, there won't be one of those πŸ˜‰

    I don't think the desktop OS will be abandoned any time soon either. After all, developers need an OS on which to build iPhone and iPad apps and there's no native developer kit yet. That said, I can see ideas from iPhone and iPad making their way into the desktop OS. Many users find the file-system very confusing (putting everything on the desktop is a symptom of this), so I think we'll probably see a slow migration to another way of working – whatever that might be.

  • As long as Apple can continue to make very healthy profits by selling computers with OS X, and selling upgrades to OS X, I cannot imagine that they will abandon the OS.

    It just doesn't make sense from a business perspective.

  • Michael says:

    I don't see OS-X being abandoned anytime soon, I do believe the computer industry will begin to move more in the direction of the iPhone OS with a lot of things being automated and handled in the background, like saving files and installing applications. However it's going to be a very gradual shift, and it won't lead to Apple abandoning OS-X anytime soon.

  • mdmadph says:

    The problem is that Apple actually doesn't like the customizability that's part of OSX — if they _could_ make you use iTunes with every Mac, they would.

    Terminal hacking? They honestly don't want you doing that at all. πŸ˜› They WANT you to have to use the App Store to install all your applications. The fact that OSX is pretty open now is really just a side-effect.

  • […] this article: No more version of Mac OS X? – Robert's talk Posted in Uncategorized | Tags: future, latest, recently-read, swedish, swedish-macworld, […]

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for your comments!


    Good that we agree!

    David, Fredrik,

    For my needs and preferences, Ubuntu isn't really there yet, but I have high hopes for the future! Glad that you like it and use it regularly!


    Ha ha! Yeah, I thought that when I wrote it, but decided to quote the article as I remembered it… πŸ™‚

    Regarding ideas making it into OS X, absolutely – there's some good stuff in there. Not just the complete package.


    I agree, it doesn't make sense, but at the same time, I imagine they would do just that if they could.


    Oh, absolutely, there's some more automation that could very well be implemented.


    Yep, I think they would love to, if they could. I just don't see that happening for the foreseeable future, though.

  • I am disturbed by some directions Apple are going with OS-X. In Snow Leopard, suddently Spotify doesn't work with the play/stop buttons on the keyboard. For Apple, these buttons are iTunes buttons, not buttons program developers should be able to have access to. Do you want to stream music to your Airport Express. Well only iTunes can, and the format is closed. There are hacks around it, but it tells a great deal about the mentality of Apple. I like the Apple hardware too much to switch right now, but I prefer to do coding in Linux on a virtual machine.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    I agree, some of their moves are very disturbing.

  • Disclaimer: I didn't read all the comments above (still at the office).

    I don't agree at all.

    I think the iPhone OS WILL be more like the future of OS X than Snow Leopard is. I believe this change will happen gradually as a lot of people still trust the old "office space" design paradigm that is a modern OS.

    One thing that will probably change from iPhone OS if it goes even more mainstream is that the App store will be forced to have some form of crowd sourcing to approve apps. Look at Nintendo in the 80s for a parallel evolution, the filtering process just takes to much time and money.

    If you read this far you'll probably be wondering WHY I think iPhone OS will prevail. It's a lot closer to how we structure the world around us. There is not a lot to learn before you can use it, which will make the iPhone OS and it's like grow faster than the old GUI OS' could ever keep up with.

    It is also really close to the life streaming ideas of David Galernter that are being explored more and more in apps and web.

    Great read!

  • Robert Nyman says:


    You might very well be right, and from one standpoint I'm sure Apple would love it. Also, there are some nice ideas in it, no doubt.

    But for me to be limited and closed-in that way (because I'm sure we would be), would definitely hurt my creativity and I'd seriously consider other options.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Good points. I, for one at least, sure hopes MAc OS X will continue to stay as its own software.

  • Peter says:

    They would have to adapt the iPhone OS for desktop use as it's simplicity is due greatly to the presence of a touch screen.

    For example:

    A Mac Mini (apple's cheapest Desktop) which can be plugged into a standard PC-monitor, simply wouldn't work without a necessary touch-sensitive screen.

    You may respond with "Apple will start shipping multi-touch monitors with their Mac Mini," but this will make it more expensive, thus driving less-well-off customers away, towards cheap PCs.

    Also, there are four clues as to why iOS is not the future for Mac Desktops, however the iPad may evolve:

    1. Apple have recently released their "Magic Trackpad" showing support of a pointing mouse.

    2. Apple's website refers to Mac OS X as "what make's a Mac a Mac".

    3. Apple's website calls the iOS Apple's "mobile operating system".

    4. Apple filed a patient for a 3D desktop which resembles Mac OS X, not iOS, showing them in favour of continuing with Mac OS X.

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