Project Marzipan, bringing iOS apps to the Mac, is not a prelude to merging the OSes. It’s actually a protective measure for macOS.
There was a time, before 2007, when pretty much the only computational device from Apple that customers pondered was a Mac of some kind. Later, those customers happily added iPhones, then iPads. But the Mac was the first love, and how it worked, the GUI, and its capabilities, became ingrained in our technical culture.
Nowadays, more and more young users start with a hand-me-down iPhone and naturally augment with an iPad in school. The technical needs of a Mac are deferred, both naturally and as a result of the much higer price. Eventually, college and workplace needs necessitate a Mac.
And that’s where the cognitive dissonance kicks in when the student is exposed to macOS. Everything is different and bewildering. Spoon feeding is gone. Things that more experienced users were born knowing and take for granted seem daunting.
It would seem logical to morph macOS into iOS for these younger users. But that would throw away 35 years of technical development on the Mac, capabilities that are still essential for the enterprise, government, and military.
Better to retain the technical basics of the Mac for those who need it, but present other uses with Marzipan-created apps that look and feel like their iOS counterparts.
Living in Two Worlds
This business of living in two worlds simultaneously is what Apple is supremely good at.
- Boot Camp
- The PowerPC to Intel transition
- Windows, Linux in a virtual machine environment
- [The old] X Window System (X11)
- The terminal window and shell scripting
You name it, and Apple has probably done it when it comes to hybrid systems. The introduction of Marzipan-based apps is not only something Apple is good at, it’s also something that makes our Macs more usable, more flexible, and more delightful.
And more enduring.
Some observers will tell you that iOS apps on the Mac are a prelude to the demise of macOS. I believe the opposite. This transition makes the Mac more friendly to those who grew up with iOS but preserves the essential power of macOS for many, many others. But for newbies, it creates friendly waypoints and landmarks that provide an important comfort level required for a purchase.
And the same process is happening in reverse. iOS gains the Files app, keyboards, and, it is rumored, perhaps mice.
Instead of merging the two OSes into something less than the sum of the parts, it’s turning out to be what our Kelly Guimont calls elegant cross-pollination at the UI level.
Walking gracefully in two worlds is better than having two great OSes degenerate into one half-baked affair.