Brace for Disappointment: iOS 7’s Success May Come at OS X 10.9’s Expense

| Analysis

Apple is hard at work on iOS 7 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch ahead of it preview at June's Worldwide Developers Conference, and the changes that are in store are so big that the company has pulled engineers from the OS X update to keep iOS on schedule. That's good news for iPhone and iPad owners because it shows Apple's dedication to keeping iOS fresh and improving the user experience, but it could spell trouble for Mac users hoping for the same in the next version of OS X.

iOS 7 may rock, but at the expense of OS X 10.9iOS 7 may rock, but at the expense of OS X 10.9

Word surfaced a few days ago that Apple's senior vice president of Industrial Design, Jonathan Ive, has teams of engineers working on major changes for iOS ranging from stripping out the stitched leather skeuomorphic interface elements to complete overhauls of the Calendar and Mail apps. The OS update probably won't ship until September, but Apple wants to show it off at WWDC so developers know what to expect and users get a glimpse of what's to come.

To make that happen, Mr. Ive has been pulling developers from the version of OS X that will follow Mountain Lion, which will also be shown off for the first time at WWDC. AllThingsD backed up that report through its own anonymous sources who said, "Yes, yes — it's essentially a repeat of the iPhone/Leopard scenario."

In 2007, Apple moved coders from the OS X 10.5 project to keep the iPhone on schedule. When Leopard did ship, it was a bug filled mess that left users frustrated and Apple scrambling to release updates to get the release up to the level it should've been at when it shipped.

With so many resources going into iOS 7, will OS X 10.9 suffer the same fate as OS X 10.5? Hopefully not, but the framework for disappointment is there thanks to Mr. Ive's decision to reassign OS X coders to the iOS 7 team.

Mr. Ive hasn't been a fan of the skeuomorphic design elements Scott Forstall pushed when he was still with Apple and in charge of iOS design. With Mr. Ive now in charge of hardware and Apple software designs the skeuomorphic elements are already going away, and iOS 7 will be a big push towards eliminating even more.

The interface changes, according to one Apple employee, "Sounds like a much-needed 'de-Forstallization.'"

Stripping the Forstall from iOS 7 while improving features isn't a trivial process, just as getting OS X 10.9 ready for release is a full time project. With fewer developers on the job, so to speak, Apple may be unintentionally setting up Mac users for disappointment and frustration, and backlash from analysts and the media.

Apple needs to keep iOS and OS X fresh and competitive, but maintaining one at the expense of the other ultimately hurts some of their customers. Considering the number of iPhone users to Mac users -- Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones during its second fiscal quarter and about 4 million Macs -- that may be a risk the company is willing to take.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

The competition is currently in the mobile arena so it makes sense to put your best players on that field. Maybe once iOS 7 is out then Apple would put engineers back to work on OSX. However, count your blessings because this may postpone the iosification of OSX.

Pashtun Wally

Given that I’m stuck @ 10.6 until economic sanity gains ground, I’m rather OK with iOS7 getting the love

geoduck

Hate to be overly critical but I think you’re giving this a glass-half-full spin. OS-X doesn’t NEED a massive recoding. It has some issues but overall it works rather well. iOS on the other hand NEEDS a complete overhaul. It essentially hasn’t changed hugely since the initial release. Sure some features added here and there but the interface is more or less the same as it was when the first iPhone came out. It’s high time for a ground up reworking, both to refresh the appearance and to add features that are available in the competition.

If they can’t get everything they want done for 10.9 that’ll be fine. They can go into 10.10. I’m not worried about a repeat of Leopard. Leopard was a ground up recoding that took a couple of years. 10.9 is a yearly maintenance update. No where near the same scale. I don’t expect the bugs and landmines that happened with the first release of Leopard.

geoduck

Correction: There was just slightly over a year between 10.4 and 10.5.

John Dingler, artist

Hope that Mac Pro is not delayed. I will stick with Apple no matter what because it believes in, and adheres to, higher principles rather than to mere product. This is the reason for the depth of my loyalty.

To Lee Dronick,
Thanks for the compliment on my Tools Series. *S*

Lee Dronick

Your welcome John, great work.

Carsten Legaard

Hi Jeff, let me try and turn this upside down, and not for the fun of it!
I feel OS X has reached a point (and I am not only talking about 10.8.x) where revolutions are no longer needed, but calm evolution sure is.
I am quite content with the allroun d quality and comp ability of OSX for now and I sure do not want another revolution acting as an elephant in a porcelain shop as Apple did with the steep run from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X.
Do You get me?

zewazir

IMO, Mac Os does not need an annual upgrade anyway.  Issuing upgrade for the sake of upgrading just ends up disappointing more often than not. When dealing with something as complex as a major operating system, a single year is barely time enough for a few tweaks.  Give 10.9 more time in the development labs where they can make it something truly worth paying for - to include upgrading the old hardware if necessary.

After all, it’s about selling hardware, right?

CudaBoy

I don’t think most Mac Pro users care about OS X’s update - we use and live in pro apps so the OS should be invisible anyway.
Apple obviously cares more about the Mobile toys and hence the losing of the old skeuomorphism (following microsoft’s lead - the horrah!!!!) makes sense.
I would like new pro hardware much more than a new OS any day.

furbies

From memory, 10.5 Leopard was the first Intel variant. So that was bound to break things…

I too would rather see a OS update when it’s ready, rather than when some stock analyst thinks is the right time to buoy up the stock.

And I do hope the Sir Jony strips out the skeuomorphisms. I think they’re stupid & ugly.

@ Pashtun Wally
If you need a Mac Pro style machine, there’s the Hackintosh route.
(I just built one, and it’s running 10.8.3 and so far, so good…)

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