Apple made a major move this week that will greatly impact the company moving forward. They cut ties with the head of iOS development, Scott Forstall, and have moved the management of iOS under OS X chief, Craig Federighi. Now, Federighi manages both iOS and OS X under one software engineering branch. Over recent years a number of iOS features have come to the Mac, while iOS has remained relatively the same. The change in leadership will likely significantly impact the development of both OS X and iOS, and the most likely end point is the merger of OS X and iOS.
The easy comparison is to Windows 8, which is Microsoft’s attempt to leap ahead by combining the new Windows phone 8 live tile system to their existing Windows 7 system. It’s an interesting prospect, but early reviews say it takes awhile to get used to, and there are some odd discrepancies in touch and traditional formats. Apple has been leading this way for awhile, but is moving there at a slower and more calculated approach rather than a big jump as Microsoft has done. Now that iOS and OS X are one division at Apple the collaboration between the two will only grow, and we could see a merger by 2014.
OS X development for the Mac has now reached a yearly upgrade cycle, so next year we will likely see OS X 10.9 to follow up Mountain Lion. There will also be iOS 7, though it’s unclear how much groundwork Forstall already laid, and how quickly Federighi’s impact will be felt, along with Jony Ive’s influence under his new Human Interface leadership. The following year though, in 2014 is set to see OS XI, or OS 11 which is slated to be a big leap that Apple has been planning for years after all of these incremental decimal point updates. OS 11 adds a I in roman numerals, which could be borrowed from iOS to in effect make OS Xi OS. OS Xi would be the logical merger of OS X and iOS, and Apple’s management is set-up to that goal.
Apple may not make a single operating system in 2014, and instead still make a desktop and mobile OS, but both deliver the same exact feature set. The only difference would be the interaction as one is made for point and click, while the other is made for touch, but everything else would be the same. Rather than shoehorning a touch based OS for desktops or a desktop tab for mobile, Apple could still merge both operating systems while maintaining the pros of each device type.
The one thing iOS will need is greater chip sets to have the available power to run the full OS X feature set by OS Xi, and now Bob Mansfield is heading a new Technologies group focusing on semiconductor development. Apple has shown rapid development of their mobile chipsets with the A6 jumping to the iPad 4 after only seven months since the iPad 3. The A7 is likely next year with the A8 the year after, and the rate at which Apple is doubling the power of their mobile chips, the A8 chip set may reach the benchmarks of lower end Intel chips.
Apple has now arranged theirs to level management for the transition to OS Xi, and it should be extremely interesting to watch, and we’re definitely excited to see it unfold.