to rule them all

The Dynabook is the vision. It always was, going back to the days of the original Macintosh team. Steve Jobs famously wrote “Mac in a book in five years” (it took longer; the Portable doesn’t count). He asked Alan Kay if the iPhone was good enough to criticize. And when that first iPad was launched in 2010, it really seemed like Himself had finally caught the car.

Ten years on, it’s become apparent the the iPad is the goal toward which everything is converging. iOS is arguably now a subset of iPadOS for slightly smaller displays. And the Mac is transitioning not only to the look and feel of iPad OS but to actual iPad processor SoCs under the hood, starting this Christmas. “Apple Silicon” is very nearly a back-to-the-future move, a RISC architecture like PowerPC was in 1994 with similar promises for running cool and fast. If an iPad Pro with an 18W power supply is faster than a MacBook Pro with a 61W power supply, then you could theoretically double up on the performance for even less power. And make no mistake: macOS has probably been running on ARM somewhere in Infinite Loop for years now, just like Mac OS X ran on Intel from the very beginning. “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” – Apple is closing the last piece of the puzzle. Make the OS, make the hardware, and now make the actual chip. No Intel, no Qualcomm, this is going to be 100% Apple’s stuff, thus the “Apple Silicon” label.

iPad OS looks more like the Mac, with its drop-down menus and sidebars. MacOS looks more like the iPad, with its bubble notifications and free-floating dock. And hell, Catalyst be damned, you’re about to be able to run iPhone and iPad apps directly on the metal on the new Macs. There is one vision for Apple computing, whether it’s on your wrist, in your pocket, on your desktop or in a tablet or laptop under your arm. Love it or hate it, this is the way it’s headed, and you can merely choose the form factor that suits your needs.

A lot of the other changes in iOS seem to be mostly around closing the remaining gaps with Android. AppClips and Widgets are things that have existed on the other platform for a long time – widgets were a thing on my Moto X in 2014 – but a nice clean presentation that works with the rest of the OS will be good to have. And native sleep tracking in watchOS is the last piece of the puzzle for me to ditch Fitbit once and for all, now that they’re owned by Google. And this is not an idle thing – Apple is steering ever harder into privacy, with more disclosures for what data apps share and things like approximating your location.

The other stuff, like Siri improvements and spatial audio in my AirPods Pro and the overhaul of the springboard in the iPhone, is all stuff that if nothing else will feel like an actual change. Hopefully one with more functionality than the great iOS 7 flattening, when they did nothing but change the paint job and somehow manage to make everything less usable along the way. Hell, if the new Translate app can work with my AirPods and let me carry on a conversation with somebody, that would feel like we finally made it to the future.

That’s what it’s all for at this point, right? Feeling like we actually got to the 21st century. The first twenty years were not what I was promised in the My Weekly Reader.

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