Friday, April 20, 2018

Tim Cook Says Users Don’t Want iOS to Merge With macOS

Peter Wells (MacRumors):

Despite rumours that a merger is in the works, Apple chief executive Tim Cook believes mobile devices and desktop computers should remain in separate worlds with their own bespoke operating systems.


“I generally use a Mac at work, and I use an iPad at home,” Cook tells me, “And I always use the iPad when I’m travelling. But I use everything and I love everything.”

If you’re wondering why the Internet is treating it as news that the CEO of Apple uses a Mac at work, Nick Heer reminds us:

In 2014, Cook told the Wall Street Journal that he did about 80% of his work on his iPad; this is a subtle change in how he’s communicating what he uses to get work done. I’m not sure how much you should read into his comment — Apple kremlinology is often a waste of time — but it’s an interesting shift, I think.

We’ve long known that Cook has an iMac on his desk at Apple. I continue to believe that he does not have a deep understanding or appreciation for the Mac. I doubt that he would consider iPad and Mac apps using the same Marzipan API as a merger. I doubt he would miss anything if every Mac app felt like an iOS app. The news here is simply that he has decided to change his messaging. So I interpret these comments as evidence that Apple is doing more merging, just that it isn’t getting rid of the Mac. I don’t believe the way to make the Mac better is to make it even more like iOS. Rather, Apple should focus on making it better at doing the things iOS can’t do.

Previously: Apple Rumored to Combine iPhone, iPad, and Mac Apps to Create One User Experience, The Menu Bar.

Update (2018-04-20): See also: Zac Cichy.

Update (2018-04-22): Jack Welborn:

People like to point out Windows 10’s support for both touch and mouse input, but I’d argue that Windows is still primarily a pointer drive interface with support for touch carefully tacked on. That said and while I still believe that touch in Windows leads to a disjointed user experience, I am also beginning to wonder if excluding touch input entirely from Mac laptops might end up being a hill not worth dying on. Take this tweet from John Siracusa that shows a photo of a monitor with the sticker “NOT A TOUCH SCREEN” and poses the question “How long until MacBooks need a similar sticker?”

Update (2018-04-28): See also: The Talk Show, Upgrade.

8 Comments RSS · Twitter

I've been a Mac owner since 2006 when I bought a first-generation MacBook, and I've been using Macs since the early 1990s during the days of System 7. All I want is for Apple to give the same level of devotion to the Mac that it once did back when I bought my first Mac in 2006. The period between the release of Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar through the days of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was the golden age of Mac OS X and Apple hardware as a whole. The user experience of Mac OS X kept getting refined until it reached its pinnacle during the Snow Leopard era, and Mac hardware was cost-competitive, updated regularly at least once (sometimes twice) per year, and was mostly upgradeable with the exception of the MacBook Air's RAM.

I've feel that while the Mac is still the best desktop computing platform available, its value proposition has dramatically fallen since 2012 when Apple started to shift to non-upgradeable hardware designs, when Apple stopped regularly updating its desktops, and when Apple started to let the quality of its legendary macOS slip. The saving grace for Apple is the lack of compelling competition for many Mac users; desktop Linux still suffers from driver problems (particularly on cutting-edge hardware) and software compatibility issues, and Microsoft had its own missteps regarding Windows 8 and, to a lesser extent, Windows 10. But if yet another year goes by and Apple continues to neglect the Mac and its users, then these other platforms would be more attractive since they are being actively maintained. Neglect is what kills a platform.

Back in 2008 when the iPhone took off, no one would have ever guessed that Apple's *success* as a company due to the iPhone would lead to the Mac being neglected. The Mac today has a worse value proposition today than it did during the dark ages of 1995 and 1996, despite the fact that Apple is the most profitable company in the world today instead of driving toward a cliff like it was in 1996.

Well, to be fair Linux might have driver problems with newer hardware, but we will never know how a Mac will fare with the same hardware given Apple's refusal to ever update the Mac lineup. I kid, I kid. Mostly.

Yeah, it's interesting, this transition from Mac OS focus to iOS focus. I go back and forth as well on this whole subject of mobile displacing the traditional PC experience. I've been there already, iPad or other tablet as main "big" device, mobile phone with external mouse, keyboard, and video out as main "big" device, and then back again to preferring the PC experience with mobile as merely a supplement.

I think they both offer different environments. There are tasks that are not impossible on mobile OSes, but are much harder for me given my work flow. In this one desktop space I have 6 open windows, one a broswer window with a dozen plus tabs. Second desktop has a couple more windows from different apps and the the third workspace has at least two more windows. This doesn't cut it on most mobile devices. And no, I don't want to constantly switch single tasking elements, and I need faster task switching than even a couple windows gives me as seen on some mobile devices/OSes.

>Microsoft had its own missteps regarding Windows 8

As a long-time Mac user, Windows 8 was my favorite version of Windows of all time. It really fixed a lot of the inconsistencies accumulated over two decades of iterative UI design, introduced a really nice new UI design, and made the whole thing work extremely well on touchscreen devices. Most of the backlash against Windows 8 came form long-time Windows users who were confused and afeared by all of the changes Microsoft suddenly foisted upon them, after a decade of stagnation.

Windows 8 might have been a misstep, but not because it was a bad operating system. If it was a misstep, it was a misstep because Microsoft overestimated the ability of its long-time customers to adapt to a much improved, but also much different, user experience.

To me, Windows 10 was a step back from Windows 8 (although I personally still think it'a very nice operating system, and much better than OS X in many ways).

Also, on the actual topic: originally, I was a big fan of the idea of merging iOS and Mac OS. However, my assumption was that Apple would take the tactile, user-friendly interactivity of iOS, and marry it to the power of OS X. Instead, Apple made iOS more confusing with every release, and made the Mac less powerful with every release. So they are indeed getting closer to each other. Unfortunately, they are getting closer by adopting the worst aspects of each other.

To me, Windows 8 shows that it is absolutely possible to have a modern, touch-friendly, easy-to-use desktop operating system that retains the power of a real desktop operating system. Unfortunately, Apple is clearly not in any kind of position to create something like this.

Similarly to Lukas' viewpoint, I've heard from Surface users that actually miss the more tablet focused Windows 8 releases and in primarily touch focused use, Windows 10 is a step back.

As a strictly casual user of Windows 8 and far from a heavy user of Windows 10, I'm ambivalent about the whole thing. Windows 10 tablet mode is okay on smaller screens, but even on my Surface Pro 3 the setting generally stays on desktop mode.

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