Thoughts on Apple, OS X, iOS and ARM

The below is total and complete speculation and just a fun exercise of getting some ideas on virtual paper. If you want, skip right to the bottom to see the future.

So I’ve had some opinions on Apple in relation to OS X, iOS and the ARM processor. What the future might hold, where they might go, you know, total speculation!

There has been a tremendous amount of speculation (for a while now) in regards to will Apple run OS X on ARM? A lot of my favorite bloggers and podcasters have covered this at length. They’ve covered why it might be a good idea. Why it’s a horrible idea. And everything in between.

For a while I’ve though it would be a great idea to run OS X on ARM. For no real reason other than I’m not married to an Intel chip on my Mac (I haven’t needed a Windows VM in some time), and I thought it would be great. Why? Well, imagine how much Apple could tweak OS X when putting it on a chip they designed, owned and built! (not much of an argument, I know)

Anyway, I had sort of an epiphany today:

Apple will never port OS X to ARM.

“Lucy, you’ve got some ‘esplainin to do!”

So I think they will continue to build, support and grow OS X, in all the same, wonderful ways they do now. OS X will continue to be used by developers, coders, design, architects, students, Moms and Dads. It will sell probably about the same as it does now, not growing, but not a lot of slowing down either. I think the real heavy investment will be in iPads. I think I just heard the needle scratch across the record.

Okay, so maybe thats not so big a guess, but let me pontificate for a bit. I think one of the things that was really driven home to me for this WWDC is Apple’s amazing ability to patiently play the long game. Years ago they started thinking about post PC. They weren’t introducing iPad to be a bigger iPhone, or a giant iPod Touch. Their plan all along was to leverage their technology and patience to build a true “post PC” device. They knew it was going to take years, and several iterations to get there but they started laying the ground work, probably as soon as the iPhone was conceived. I think they have been moving everyone and everything into the correct direction. Both people and technology is being shepherded towards the end goal.

64, shmixty four!

I think in 2017, or maybe 2018, Apple will have developed an ARM chip that can well and truly be labeled a “desktop class” chip. It will sip battery, have bucket loads of power and 4GB of RAM. 4GBs! Imagine what Apple could to on an iPad Pro with 4GB of RAM and a smoking CPU that no other company could build and deploy with the same efficiencies as Apple. I imagine something like this:

You get home from work, and your ready to relax. You grab your iPad off the charger and flop on the couch with an ice cold pop. First up you decide to watch that cat video that Susan sent you via iMessage while at work today. You pull up iMessage and long click on the link to the YouTube video and choose “Open next to me”. This splits the screen in half, with YouTube on one half and iMessage on the other. You start belly laughing as the cute kitty knocks a desk lamp done onto some chump doing situps. You text Susan back as the video continues to play with a tried and true “Lols”. All the sudden an incoming FaceTime video call pops up a small notification. Its Sven and he heard you were watching cat videos (yes the future sounds a lot like today!). The notification has the following buttons, “Reject”, “Answer” (which opens fullscreen blocking everything out), and “Answer Here”. You click “Answer Here” and Sven’s face pops up on the quadrant of the screen nearest the FaceTime camera. iOS knows you’ll want to “look” at Sven when you talk to him so it places him as close to the camera as possible. So now Sven is taking up the top half of the screen (you were holding the iPad in portrait mode with the home button at the bottom, camera at the top), and the bottom half is 1/2 iMessage and 1/2 the still playing cat video.

Sven tells you he want’s to play HalfLife 4 (yes it takes that long to release HL 4) with you while you guys chat. So you hold the home button, and in comes Siri to the rescue. You say “Siri, I want to play Half Life 4 with Sven since I’m done with watching that funny cat video, and texting Susan”.

The most powerful thing in the world

Everything comes together with that last sentence. Siri knows the following:

  • That you were trading messages with Susan using iMessage
  • That you were watching a video, and that video was in the YouTube app, AND that that video had cats in it
  • She knew you were already talking to Sven, and since you asked to play Half Life 4 with Sven she knows what to do next:
  • She fires off a deep link request to HL4 to open up, start a new game, and send an invite to Sven
  • While HL4 starts, Siri closes out iMessage sending a pre-canned message to Susan saying “0ff to play, ttyt”
  • Since Siri knows you thought the video was funny, she gives the video a thumbs up, and closes it out
  • Siri sent both the thumbs up and the iMessage via deep links because both apps were already closed while HL4 was opening

Now you have just Sven on the top half of the screen and HL4 on the bottom in all of its fully 3D, 60FPS glory.

Enjoy the future.