The Mac's Here to Stay Least for Now

Screenshot of Brent Simmon's blog post
Screenshot of Brent Simmon’s blog post

Here’s what Brent Simmons had to say on porting UIKit to the Mac:

But I think the more important reason is that Macs aren’t exciting to most developers in the way iOS devices are exciting. Macs are where people quietly get their work done, in much the same ways they did 10 and 20 years ago. There’s your spreadsheet and your word processor. Web browser and email. Graphics editor and text editor. Chat window. You may be swiping a bit these days, but you’re also still just clicking with a mouse.

It’s boring.

How do you fix that?

I think — perhaps surprisingly — that you bring UIKit to the Mac.

The thesis of Brent Simmons piece is this:

Porting UIKit to the Mac is ultimately a step forward in computing, despite the difficulty associated with doing so.

But in defending this assertion, he makes some really great points as to why the Mac will be around for a while.

Here’s my summary of his points:

  1. Yes, iOS is strategically more important to Apple than OS X (because one of the devices powered by iOS is their cash cow)
  2. Yes, iOS is more prevalent than OS X (and should, therefore, have more dedicated engineers than the less popular platforms)
  3. Yes, iOS is the future

And here’re my refutations of said points:

  1. A small (but dedicated) portion of the people who buy iPhones need Mac’s to get work done.
  2. Likewise, all those Apple engineers focusing on iOS get their work done on OS X, since their IDE isn’t on iOS!
  3. And even though iOS is the future, the future isn’t here yet

I can imagine a future where Apple has further blurred the line between iOS and OS X (it’s started already). Moreover, I firmly believe iOS will someday supplant OS X and become the operating system we’ll all be using—on mobile-sized displays and desktop-sized displays.

But that day is not today.

I’ve used Coda on iPad before. While the design of the app is the best in class, there’s still no command line on iOS.[1] Since all of my projects use Git, there’s simply no easy way for me to code on iOS. (At least not yet.)

iOS has a long way to go before it can replace OS X.

But as Simmons suggests, they’ve got to start somewhere. iOS has gained some OS X-like functionality with iOS 9. Likewise, it’s only a matter of time before OS X gets a more modern UI framework than AppKit.

And just as it’s only a matter a time before iOS devices are powerful enough to compete with OS X devices, it’s only a matter of time before iOS[2] itself is powerful enough to compete with OS X.

  1. Yes, I could SSH using Coda, or via Panic’s Terminal-like app, Prompt—but it’s not nearly as easy or featured as the `full` UNIX shell like what OS X offers.

  2. I can see it now—It’s 2026, the 50th anniversary of the company: “Today, we are thrilled to introduce Apple’s cross-platform OS, AppleOS. We think you’re going to love it.”