Apple PC/Tablets Twists and Turns
Jean-Louis Gassée

Its A Comment, But Also Extending A Tweet

A bit of a weird irony finding this in my stream not long after tweeting my unhappiness w/the neutering of UX tool’s website (and service) to my iPad Pro context, and a willingness to push beyond that regardless of their response. I don’t know the answer to Apple’s perceived evolutionary challenges are all too challenging. The iPad is their clearest expression of computing — what it isn’t is the [traditional] computer’s user clearest expression of computing. And that would be ok if Apple made it clear that macOS has a shelf-life (its almost 20 years old, one would think folks get that already), or that iOS has a future in production (yet, it came out of the gate producing differently). Evolution isn’t always easy… it is consistent.

I agree that tablet/mobile UI features won’t [easily] come to macOS. There are constraints around use and perceived value. Even the TouchBar — a willing and insightful experiment — finds its legs less with those who have etched specific behaviors and expectations of keyboards, versus those for whom computing is still a chore, emojis are efficiency in language and therefore the do exist on equal plane as letters and numbers. Expectations frame what we want from our computers, what we deem necessary, and what’s deemed challenging. Microsoft understood this and took a different route to get there. To some degree their experiment was a success. We saw what some wanted, and many didn’t. Their mix of touch, mouse, and keyboard UIs answered what some wished to know, and we later found needed refinement. iOS doesn’t care to repeat that lesson — no matter how many keyboard-centric folks want a cursor. They might get some variant of FaceID taking that mantle however.

So yes, there’s a freedom of movement with the iPad. A freedom that’s more or less hard for Apple to articulate in part because there is no language for direct interfaces which work from the artist’s mind. Its a challenge I’ve got a hard time articulating because with iOS, even with the (incomplete to me) software tools, I sketch here better than I type. Words are harder to come by, but if you ask me to sketch, iOS is set well to express nearly the very depths of what my mind sees and wants to shape in this world.

To take from Apple’s ad: what’s a computer?

That isn’t to say there is no future for macOS. It will linger. And whatever comes after iOS might have the space of designing the processes and layers away from macOS into the next thing (I’m doing this for a project now, designing using iOS for a means to move away from mainframe platforms and methods). It may take people who have only used iOS to best grasp what iOS’s future means. It may take those who are wedded to macOS to keep that future accountable to the diverse needs and expectations of all persons who use a computer, not just those who can touch, who can see, and who can afford. It doesn’t look like a tablet/laptop hybrid. It looks like a refined vision of Apple’s expression of computing. That might not equal what yours or mine is, it might not even equal what companies and developers are able to address. But, it will echo a continued evolution of what it means to shape your world with the tools in your hand/at your mind’s reach.

*Note: I use iOS exclusively. I’ve painted/written my lessons in a few articles here, here, here, and here; my views won’t be the same as others, I don’t see macOS/Windows in the same UX light. Nor can I. I’ve been mobile-mainly w/computing since 2004 or so.