Mac Gets Mobile - WWDC20

Apple did their annual thing last week where they announced a bunch of cool new stuff. It’s aimed at developers – which I am not – but gives hints for consumers down the road. Having been an Apple consumer, and being a tech-geek in general, I checked out some of the new stuff from WWDC 2020. And do you know what? I think Apple is about to sell a lot more Macs.

The Mac

The Mac is becoming more like the iPad in look and feel, getting iOS apps to run directly on it – this is big news!

The Mac was a pro computer back in the day, more niche than mainstream. But over time, it became popular with average consumers thanks to the iPhone’s halo effect.

Now this turn from OS X to OS 11 signals a more intentional push towards those same consumers. The Mac, as it was known, is fading away. Commence funeral for OS X.

The last Mac I owned was a 2009 MacBook running OS X Mountain Lion (bought used in 2012). I had longed for a Mac ever since I got my first iPod touch. But there was one thing in particular that struck me about Mountain Lion, which made me determined to get one: it gained iPad/iPhone apps!

At that time, I had a first-gen iPad. And the Mac was going to get Mac versions of iPad apps: Reminders, Notes, and iMessage! When I saw that, I knew I had to get a Mac.

Here we are 8 years later, and the Mac continues to gain iOS looks and features. But instead of Mac versions or emulated apps, OX 11 gets the actual iOS apps themselves, running natively. The more I think about this, the more game changing it seems. Initiate game-changing sequence.

Software Sells Hardware

All the apps you want to use are mobile apps on your phone. Now those same apps will be on the Mac. I believe that’s going to sell a lot more Macs!

The Apple brand is already aspirational, prestigious – a status symbol. Yet I think iPhone apps on the Mac will make it even more broadly appealing.

On top of that, I think developers are going to find new ways to leverage iPhone apps to run on both the iPhone and the Mac in such a way that the Mac instance will have extra features and an optimized interface. In other words, this is going to reinvigorate Mac development and thus the Mac itself. Queue Mac sales.

Android Apps On Chrome OS

This has happened already on the Google side. A few years ago, Chromebooks, once thought to only run Chrome, gained the Google Play Store, full of Android apps. Suddenly, a Chromebook could run more than just web apps; it gained mobile apps.

Of course, how well the app amalgamation is executed is crucial. It took a couple years for the ChromeOS/Android mash-up to smooth out. It’s not perfect, but it works.

A Chromebook and Android phone are my everyday devices. The core ChromeOS experience is untarnished by the addition of the Google Play Store and Android apps. The way I see it, Android apps are simply a bonus to the system.

I opt for web apps in the browser first and foremost. If there’s something lacking, then I look for a solution in the Google Play Store. So 95% of what I use is web native, the other 5% is picked up by Android apps. The few Android apps on my Chromebook offer a better experience than their web counterparts. Having this option is nice!

Mac With Mobile

Likewise, mobile apps will benefit the Mac. But I think iPhone apps will become more than just a bonus. Due to Apple’s tight integration of their hardware and software, the latest developer efforts make the Mac poised for more powerful and integral iPhone/Mac apps.

Looked at another way, a capable full-fledged Mac app will be a super-powered version of an iPhone app, and the iPhone version of that Mac app will be a simplified mobile instance with its core functionality.

The Big Picture

Apple’s stuff in general is very good. I was all-in before. Their ecosystem of integrated hardware and software sets the standard. I’ve used all of Apple’s native first-party apps on iPhone and iPad with iCloud as the backbone. I used their media services: Apple Music, Apple Books, Apple News, etc.

These days I’m all-in with Google. It’s a great ecosystem of web apps that run on ChromeOS and Android. As much as I like my Android phone apps being available on my Chromebook with a touch-screen, I see advantages to iPhone apps on a Mac.

WWDC 2020 has caused me to take another look outside my Google camp. When I survey the whole of Apple’s ecosystem, it is compelling. The way Apple software and hardware compliments each other across devices is impressive. But Apple is not without its flaws and costs.

Whether I ever switch back to Apple is anyone’s guess. And in any case, Apple’s future looks shiny with the advent of iOS apps on the Mac.

This new era of the Mac is one to keep an eye on.