On the surface, not much is going to change, and this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. MacOS Big Sur saw arguably one of the biggest changes to the MacOS platform since the move from PowerPC to Intel way back in 2005 That the change was the move away from Intel towards Apple’s own ARM-based Apple Silicon creates a nice bookend to a sixteen year adventure.
MacOS Big Sur refreshed the look and feel of the deskbound OS, as well as having to support two different architectures and proved the all important emulation layer of Rosetta 2 that would allow legacy x86 compiled apps to run under ARM. No doubt MacOS Monterey will work in a number of bug fixes and improvements. I’d expect MacOS, at least the major elements, to stay relatively steady until all of the Mac family has moved over to Apple Silicon, which is scheduled to happen by the end of 2022.
So what do we have?
We have a topic that will be familiar to many – the deskbound MacOS drawing itself closer to the mobile platforms of iOS and iPadOS. Apple has been at pains to point out that it is not going to combine the platforms, and it definitely isn’t looking to make a 2-in-1 device that works as a tablet and as a laptop.
The announcements at WWDC could have fooled me.
The ‘gee whizz that’s neat’ that we have come to expect from a Craig Federighi presentation, namely Universal Control. This is actually an extension of the Continuity and Handoff features already in the ecosystem allowing file transfer and features 9such as wifi hotspots) to be quickly set up. Here the keyboard and trackpad of the Mac can be used as a keyboard and trackpad for an iPad. Not only does the cursor move between the two screens, but files can be ‘drag and dropped’ between the two platforms.
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It uses a number of features that Apple has been quietly adding into the iPadOS/MacOS relationship between the two machines. MacOS and iOS have traditionally had a software wall between them over the years, marking a clear delineation between the devices and their purposes. That wall is breaking down.
Then you have the Shortcuts application. The macros built through visual scripting on iOS opened up a certain amount of customisation on the iPhone. That flexibility is coming to MacOS with the release of Monterey. It’s another part of the mobile and deskbound platforms coming together.
The same is true of Notifications, and the newly announced ‘Focus’ which allows notifications to be synced between devices, reducing the notifications burden many have experienced. No need to swipe the same alert away on two different devices.
These changes are all on top of the closer ties being created that allow iOS and iPadOS applications to run under MacOS. Throw in the similar developer tools, and now everything is running on ARM (at least it will be by the end of 2022) and you have two systems that, to all intents and purposes, are only differentiated by a stubborn need to keep them apart.
Much like Romeo and Juliet, the tablet and the laptop are being drawn together through destiny and attraction, with both the MacOS Sharks and the iPad Jets furiously proclaiming that nothing is going to happen and there will never be a marriage between the two.