Hmmm… Apropos my column pondering the implications of iOS for Apple computers, here are some interesting thoughts on the same subject.
But it is the changes coming in Lion that are inspired by the iPad's user interface that will have broader ramifications for the future of all Macs, even desktops. These include the Launchpad screen and its folder-creation method, (OS-level support for) full-screen apps, auto-save and auto-resume. As with the iPad-inspired hardware changes, these will bring tradeoffs. Many of these make computing more accessible to newcomers, a path that Apple has doggedly pursued since the dawn of the Mac. To Apple's benefit, they also differentiate Mac OS further from Windows and tie together Apple's products better.
For veteran users, though, the changes may not represent an ideal execution. For example, auto-save can be a lifesaver, but for productivity applications it is ideally implemented with version control that is generally not in iPad apps today and which can be a confusing concept to new users. Similarly, the Launchpad interface may be effective for a world without mice or hierarchical folders, but Apple already offers the dock and the Applications folder for easily browsing programs. And with tried and true aids such as list view and sorting, one can take advantage of larger displays to view more apps at a glance without having to wander among screens, particularly when hunting for apps that are used less often.
But the hope is that Apple will blend them into the Mac OS rather than graft them on. Just as with the new MacBook Air, the key is to recognize what is relevant and what is not.
Apple hasn't yet offered extensive details on how these iPad calques will work in Lion; there doesn't seem to be any requirement for users to use these in Lion. But the hope is that Apple will blend them into the Mac OS rather than graft them on. Just as with the new MacBook Air, the key is to recognize what is relevant and what is not. For example, while Apple has dismissed physical keyboards on its iDevices, it continues to treat them as sacrosanct on the Mac, ensuring that its smallest notebook still has a keyboard with full-sized keys with spacing…
John Gruber has some interesting thoughts about this — as usual. For example:
iOS apps do run on Mac OS X, today, in the iPhone/iPad emulator that ships with the iOS developer kit. Ends up they’re just not that pleasant to use on a Mac. Gestures that are natural and fun with direct touch are awkward and clumsy using a mouse or touchpad. I never hear iPad developers — who run their own iOS apps on their Macs during development, for testing and debugging purposes — wish that they could ship them as-is to Mac users. Ever try a game like Pac-Man on the iPhone? A game that’s designed from the ground up around a hardware joystick or D-pad just isn’t very good on a device without a joystick. Everything about iOS apps is like that when you run them on a Mac. (And, conversely, popular iOS games like Angry Birds tend to feature controls that only really make sense with a touchscreen.)