As Apple Moves From OS X to MacOS, What’s in Store for Users?

| Particle Debris

We're geting fairly strong indications now that Apple is going to rebrand "OS X" (formerly "Mac OS X") as "MacOS." This would, in name, bring about a pleasant synchronization with tvOS, iOS, and watchOS. But more to the point, rebranding both suggests and offers the opportunity for significant change. What might be in store for Apple's customers?

I must admit that I am a dreamer and a futurist. I keep looking for pleasant and big changes in my favorite OS, still called OS X. When I read about some buried "macOS" strings in an El Capitan framework, I wasn't convinced. However, when it gets to the level of an Apple environmental webpage, and the emphasis is on the proper noun, "Macintosh", and we see the new use of the term "MacOS," then I'm starting to be swayed. 9to5Mac lays it all out here: "Apple hints at future ‘MacOS’ name change on new environmental webpage."

Coincidentally, this is the time of year when we start thinking about what features Apple might announce for the next version of OS X at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.

Recall that OS X Yosemite was a bit problematic. It introduced a lot of new features, many of which didn't get used and others failed to operate reliably, such as AirDrop to iOS. Wi-Fi networking issues plagued early versions, as did Continuity.

El Capitan was ostensibly designed to be a maintenance release and fix some troubling issues in the same manner as the previous Snow Leopard release. In my estimation, it has done that. El Capitan on my Mac Pro has been a blessing. One might expect, therefore that the next version of OS X, perhaps rebranded as "MacOS" will introduce some exciting new, fundamental features. What's listed next is a mixture of what I think is reasonable and represents grand challenges, not just throw-away features.

1. Version name. I've seen many suggestions, but the ones I personally like are: Mojave, Monterey, Sequoia and Big Sur in that order.

2. Siri on Mac. We've been hearing about this for years, but it never happened. I think that with pressure from Microsoft's Cortana now in common use and the Siri technical and UI issues worked out, we'll finally get Siri on the Mac. From Digital Trends:

According to the source, Siri will reside in a menubar icon in the upper-right hand corner of the user’s Mac, next to the Spotlight and Notification Center icons. When active, it will be represented by a dark, transparent interface, much like those found in iOS 9 and tvOS. Users can activate it the digital assistant by clicking, or through a user-defined keyboard shortcut.

3. Better Handling of Secure Erase/Empty Trash. In El Capitan, Apple had to give up the pretense that Secure Empty Trash worked properly with Flash memory. A Flash memory controller technique called wear leveling tends to prevent full erasure, and private data can linger, unwanted in Flash (and SSD) storage systems.

The iPhone encrypts data with a hardware key, and that key is kept in a special memory location, exempt from wear leveling, called effaceable memory. Delete the key there, (with a Reset) and it's really gone, and all that's left is scrambled, encrypted data in the rest of the storage. One way to fix the OS X/Flash memory problem is to always encrypt the Flash storage and add effaceable storage. That way, Mac owners, like iPhone owners, can feel safe when they sell their (Flash-based) Macs.

4. A New Filesystem Architecture. HFS+ is very old, going back to 1998 and Classic Mac OS 8.1 and lacks many modern features desirable in a modern filesystem. We've been waiting for Apple to modernize it for years. Perhaps now is the time.

In my opinion, Apple would likely not adopt one of the popular, modern Linux/UNIX filesystems but brew its own superset of HFS+, perhaps called HFS++. The advantages of course are control, freedom from any licensing issues, and backwards compatibility with HFS+. One can, Obi Wan, only hope. Or maybe rethink the filesystem altogether. Apple is prone to make giant leaps that way, and we love them for it.

5. Fix the Dreaded iTunes. While not a strictly OS X thing, this possible rebranding might also be an opportunity to come out with a new version of iTunes. Apple might go the iPhoto to Photos route and give us a suite of apps: Tunes, Sync, and Movies (which would include all videos, TV shows, etc.) I've seen rumors that Apple is working on this. Just don't expect the playback apps to be separated from the iTunes Store and Apple Music.

I"ve seen a few other minor. fanciful ideas, but the truth is that OS X is a very mature OS. Adding features for the sake of coolness just introduces more bugs, weighs the OS down, and keeps it from "just working." And so, in my mind, the things worth doing are the Big Things listed above that will make life fundamentally better, not just add a list of gizmos. Now is the time.

Next page: The Tech News Debris for the Week of April 11th: The end of apps?

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Wouldn’t the correct name be macOS? smile

One change I’d like to see is how the system prompts and handles updates.  Right now it’s:

“Updates are available.  Install now?”
“No thanks, I gotta get things done here.”
“When would you like to install them?  When should I remind you?”
“I don’t know!  Please, go away.”

All sounds like something out of Windows.  Unless it’s an immediately critical security update, the OS should be smart enough to watch the load and user interaction, and proceed accordingly.


It should be macOS.

And somewhere along the development of iOS, tvOS, watchOS, OSX has been completely neglected. Suppose all these OS shares the same core, it is clear that most optimization now are going into ARM. Installing Windows 10 on any Macbook would actually give you better performance then OSX.

I think Apple needs a lot more engineering effort for the OS underlying work. Things like discoverd was a complete disaster, iCloud drive syncing bug is still causing apple to pay Millions for bandwidth but Apple not doing anything against it.


I think changing OS X to macOS would be a good move.  If I remember correctly, the whole idea behind Apple emphasizing the “X” in OS X was to associate Macintosh with the move to Unix.  I think after ten plus years it is safe to retire that emphasis.

I completely agree with John’s list of things that the next macOS should have or change.  I look forward to having Siri on the Mac.  However, I do think that people would demand a lot more out of Siri then what is currently demanded in iOS and tvOS. 

Siri would need to have deep integration with macOS.  The things I would want Siri to do on my Mac would be different then what I currently ask for in iOS and tvOS.  For example, I would not likely use Siri on my Mac to find weather or sports score information since I already do that on my iPhone and Apple Watch.  On the Mac, I would want to ask Siri things like, “find all png files in the last two months named prototype.”

Lee Dronick

They can call it whatever they want as long as pressing Return in messages gives us a new line and doesn’t send the message. Yes, I know how to add a line using Control-Return, does the programmer know how to add a Send Button?


Bring true and full resume playback to iTunes application for Mac, as it was available in SoundJam MP from where iTunes was developed 15 years ago!

John Martellaro

The reasons it would probably be “MacOS” are:

1. On Apple’s own webpage, the company used the term “MacOS”.  It’s since been changed back to OS X, but the 9to5Mac site grabbed a screen shot in the article I linked to. We must follow Apple’s own lead.

2. Apple holds a registered trademark on the term “Mac” but not on the term “mac.” That’s why we previously had Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X.


Thank you John for mentioning the need to update the ancient HFS+ to something better ( not necessarily ZFS but something as reliable and designed for modern 64-bit machines ).

FWIW: a name change to MacOS seems interesting but a name like AppleOS( when it’s introduced ) would have less subtle significance.


I could not care less about Siri. It simply is not useful. It routinely repeatedly fails in such mundane tasks as voice dialing.


Very much agreed. It may very well be the future, but it is far, far in the future. I have to say that personally, though it’s fun to imagine, I grow weary of present tense conversations about AI that doesn’t exist, and likely won’t for some time. wink

Paul Goodwin

Good one Lee.

Paul Goodwin

Chat bots strike me as very likely to be very underwhelming or overwhelming given the state of technology. The underwhelming ones will give you too little, wrong info (not what you asked for), or wrong ( incorrect, unsubstantiated etc) and will be of little use. The overwhelming ones will give you too much (including the two types of wrong info I mentioned in much the same way as Googling things can be overwhelming, and require multiple edits of your search string. Currently most useful apps (at least the ones that I buy), have a fairly narrow scope and I’m confident in what they’re telling me. And there’s always the nature of the individuals or teams developing chat bots. Their view of organized data won’t look like how I’d like to see it organized data. When I pick an app, I pick the ones that look organized in a way that’s easy for me. There are many similar apps that are probably better than what I use if that person likes the way they look and feel. I don’t believe that the time for chat bots is now. I’m not really interested in talking to typing onto a chat bot window trying to explain to the software what I want to do. I pick the app that’s relevant and run it.

For sure, Apple should work at making it easier to locate an app to do a certain thing. Make a chat bot for the App Store.

Lee Dronick

  For sure, Apple should work at making it easier to locate an app to do a certain thing. Make a chat bot for the App Store.

At least give us more categories, or sub categories.



Just catching up on my TMO reading from the past three weeks. A lot has happened on several fronts while I’ve been continent-hopping. Just a few quick observations and thoughts.

First, the rebranding of OS X to MacOs simply harmonises the nomenclature of Apples OS suite across the board, and makes sense. OS X is a holdover from an era that has passed. It made sense once upon a time, but that time has gone. Welcome to the second decade of the 21st Century.

Second, considering the backend improvements on the system, and what is happening elsewhere in the industry, Siri on the Mac should happen and not a minute too soon. Apple need to more than simply harmonise they nomenclature of their OS offerings, but their core functionality as well, and keep it on par, if not ahead, of the competition, which once more, includes MS and their emerging AI, Cortana.

As for the secure erase feature on Macs featuring SSDs, given their pervasiveness, this is long overdue and a weak link in the Apple OS suite.

Is there a problem with iTunes? I hadn’t noticed.

Regarding FB and chatbots, without doubt, FB have to tread carefully with Apple, but there is no doubt in my mind that this is precisely where Apple are headed with Siri. Why would they not be, given the trajectory of the entire industry? This is not a development unique to FB. Here, I disagree with Matt Weinberger’s assessment that ‘…”replacing an app” is exactly what Apple doesn’t want’. To begin with, assuming that Siri and other agents become more capable ‘chatbots’ or true AIs with all that pertains thereto, there will be a transition away from task-dedicated apps in certain categories to integrated features in the AI. Two thoughts here. First, a capable chatbot or true AI and an app are not mutually exclusive. We already see some that now with Siri, for example, if you ask about the weather. Siri’s response includes bringing up the weather app that provides more granular, and importantly, visual detail on the weather situation. Why would this not remain true for many other tasks and services? Second, as with so many other elements of human learning and information retention, a visual and manipulatable display remain key to information retention. Some tasks and function that a chat bot will take on will still be better served with a supplemental visual that the end user can further interrogate on their own. In other words, an app. App developers will not be put out of business anytime soon.

The Science Daily’s piece about the work at Aarhus University on humans vs quantum computers is fascinating on several levels, not least of which what it means to be human, at least cognitively. In fact, this finding of humans to cut through wads of data through which a computer would need to serially (or in parallel) crunch with an intuitive leap that simultaneously integrates experience, reference frames, memory, and projection may refine the Turing Test in a future replete with powerful AIs that are otherwise indistinguishable from humans in most their responses, and importantly, provide greater medical insight into the workings of the uniquely human mind.

Finally, the iPad Pro 9.7” is an awesome beast. The display is exceptional, including side by side with my iPad Air 2. I’m looking forward to travelling more with it, including an upcoming trip to the field, where I’m flirting with the idea of leaving my MBP behind for a week. That might require a truly brave heart.

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