Saturday 19 July 2014

One OS to Rule them all – Apple’s New Mantra

Ever since the arrival of computing in consumer space, companies have focused to create a coherent and easy-to-use experience for their customers. Moreover, this is especially true for companies with vertical integration like Apple, which manufactures its devices along with providing the required services. This creates a coherent environment and helps to tie the customer to the Apple ecosystem. However to truly achieve this, they need to start with the core service integration – the OS.

The Present Situation: 

Right now, Apple sells iPhones and iPads like hot-cakes with their own venerable and simple iOS as the primary operating system. It is fairly capable and has the largest third-party app ecosystem, the AppStore, which arguably has the most quality-oriented apps and games. Thus, once you own an iPhone and want a tablet, your natural choice would be an iPad since you get the strong ecosystem and your subscriptions carry over as well as iCloud and iTunes.

However, the problem lies in the fact that the same ecosystem does not power Apple’s more serious devices – the MacBook Air/Pro and MacPro units. What it lacks is a quality ecosystem and the enviable integration with its mobile counterparts. In addition, Microsoft is slowly trying to merge Windows 8 and Windows Phone into one, in order to gain market, same with Google – Android and Chromebooks.

The Possibilities: 

Think about what a single united OS with at-par functionality can do. You were playing your favorite game on your MacBook Air and now suddenly need to go out and it’s a 2 hour commute. So you may pause your game, pick up your phone and continue where you left off. Likewise, with music or videos. Not to mention, you could buy an app and enjoy the same on all your iGadgets. Thus, customers getting an Apple device are locked to the ecosystem and hence it makes sure their future gadgets will be from the Cupertino giant. Apple are already targeting some of it with their hand-off mechanism and unified notifications between iOS and OS X but it still has a long way to go.

How to go about it? 

Uniting two different paradigms of computing – one for the on-the-go and casual users and other for more serious work – can prove to be a challenge as Microsoft with their Metro design language is finding out. The first problem is that laptops and desktops are traditional non-touch devices with mouse and keyboards and hence demand a different UI paradigm than smartphones or tablets. So applications and games universal to both will have to account for that and hence there has to be a coherent API and tools to provide for that. They will also have to address different architectures – x86 vs. ARM, which can be mitigated if they can produce x86 capable ARM to have it everywhere.

It seems like the future is bright for Apple with a unified OS and ecosystem and even more coherent experience. Granted it may take time but consumers will flock for the foreseeable future if they pull it off.

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