With the announcement of Mac OS X 10.7 at their ‘Back to the Mac’ event, Apple is showing its intentions of merging Mac OS X and iOS in the future. The question on everybody’s minds at this stage, however, is how long will this integration take, and will it take shape in the form of Mac OS 11?
Admittedly, iOS integration with Mac OS X is currently somewhat of a loose term. After all, apart from a Mac OS X App Store (which, thank God, won’t be the only way to install software on 10.7) we’re only looking at some iOS inspired features such as full screen applications, which has begun with the new version of iLife.
Although no one was expecting fully fledged iOS app integration for obvious reasons (try playing ‘Asphalt 5 HD‘ with a mouse and you’ll get the idea), I firmly believe that this is the sign of things to come. After all, iOS was originally developed from the barebones of OS X, and it only makes sense that a lot of the features present in Apple’s mobile operating system will make it in to their desktop OS that we’ve known and loved for so many years.
However, the software available on these devices is well and truly tailored to the hardware that they’re designed with – that’s what’s so great about Apple’s products, because both the hardware and software are designed with each other in mind – meaning that we must allow time for hardware to develop alongside Mac OS X.
Although vertical touch screens are out of consideration as far as Apple is concerned according to Steve Jobs, there is still room for touch integration elsewhere. The trackpad in the recent MacBooks and MacBook Pro laptops are evidence of this. Although it isn’t conventional touch screen technology as we know of it, it does allow for various multitouch gestures, which will be expanded upon further in Lion.
I have no doubt that the touchscreen technology available on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad will eventually make its way over to Apple’s line of laptops, and possibly desktops, but how they are integrated will be key to their usefulness. One could imagine a touch screen under a keyboard on a MacBook Pro rather easily, but would you use it predominantly for cover flow or third party apps?
Rather than try to implement the abundance of apps from iOS in Mac OS X, Apple may simply allow developers to extend these applications for use on the Mac, with touchscreen integration. The applications could be sold either through the OS X App Store or through more conventional methods, but the end result would be the same: touch controlled OS X apps.
Would you prefer the future of Mac OS X to be touch-based, or conventionally controlled with a mouse and keyboard? I for one would welcome a touch-based OS X future, but only as long as it makes me more productive, and it isn’t implemented for the sake of implementation. Thoughts? Let us know in the comments, as always!