I've had some thoughts lately about Apple's OSes. It's all just whimsy, but I like to go where no one else goes. Take a short trip down adventure lane with me.
Apple's OS X, derived from the legacy BSD UNIX (from late 1970s), was born in the mind of Steve Jobs and engineers at NeXT more than 20 years ago. It came to fruition at Apple in March 2001. It was a product of its time. iOS was launched for the iPhone in 2007 and designed for hardware that was one percent the speed of Apple's modern A9 SoC. Perhaps it's finally time to move on to a hybrid OS that can run both. But there's more. And for a reason.
IBM has the lead on Apple with the AI called Watson. It's being used for many projects.
The Birth of an OS
Operating Systems are born on the hardware of their day. For example, the classic 32-bit Mac OS running on a PowerPC chip could never run on an Apple II with an 8-bit 6502. The current 64-bit OS X could never run on the old Motorola 68040.
Put another, inverse, way, as the hardware gets faster and faster, the original OS has more and more performance headroom. That's usually filled by adding features and complexity in the name of competition, marketing and planned obsolesce.
However, what if that ever increasing headroom, derived from really fast hardware, could be put to use for a better purpose, namely security. Better security is what we need right now.
Just as we ran the Classic Mac OS in an environment ("The Blue Box") on modern Macs inside OS X, I think we'll soon have enough hardware headroom to run both OS X and iOS as residents inside an outer wrapper of, say, a Swift-based host OS, an AI agent, that does a lot of things that a naked OS can't (or shouldn't) do for itself.
The Death of an OS
What I'm talking about is a host OS that than can run either OS X or iOS (or both simultaneously) in a highly secure environment. The host OS can attend to the health, integrity, safety and robustness of the guest OS that it protects. It could check for corruption, block apps that upload stolen information, look for malicious HTTP streams, create trapdoor security enclaves against intrusions, offload the client OS from all kinds of messy housekeeping and band-aid elements that are tacked on to each OS every time a new kind of threat crops up.
The host OS could also allow the customer to run the desired OS depending on the occasion as needed. Tim Cook has emphasized, and I agree, that merging the two OSes, isn't the answer. Each OS, pointer-based OS X and touch-based iOS, serves two different needs. Each is superb at what it does.
But a host OS that could run each of iOS and OS X in a more secure environment could lead the way to a MacBook that runs OS X when the display is attached to the keyboard and also run iOS when the keyboard part is detached. Or not. (I'll leave the challenge of direct connect to the encryption and security hardware to Apple engineers.)
The Next Generation OS
On page two here, I reference several elements that could play a part in this: Intel's Optane technology, Apple's need to breathe new life into the iPad line, and OS X checking on malicious apps. Sure, you can fiddle with the name of the next 9.7-inch iPad, add a pencil and P.I.P. but new growth and advances in the user experience will ultimately come from new thinking about continuous advances in hardware technology.
OS X is almost 16 years old, and there's no sign it will ever be quite as secure as iOS for technical reasons. But customers have a huge investment in apps, and they love their Macs. Perhaps it's time for that supervisor OS that has the means to monitor the activities of OS X and better look out for it. It would exploit all the coming advances in hardware speed for an AI agent, one that's far beyond the capabilities of any patchwork fix-ups to OS X.
Apple never invested much in supercomputers and AI agents like IBM's Watson. Now, it's time to catch up.
The unsavory alternative is to use the faster and better hardware of the future to push an aging OS X to extremes it was never meant to endure in a graceful, simple way that "just works."
Just some thoughts. Tell me yours.
Next page: The Tech News Debris for the Week of March 7th. Whoa! Connecting the cord! And an iPad branding conundrum.