The Astonishing File System

Mac OS X is the niche operation system, not iOS.

I tend to kill my iPad Pro (12.9″) battery daily — right around 6pm it is nearly exhausted. I assume this is due to the amount of video calls and Skype calls I do on a daily basis. Nevertheless, I use the piss out of my iPad Pro.

I won’t lie and say I never use my MacBook. Sometimes I need to take a video call and look something up at the same time, and if I were to leave the call app on iOS, my video awkwardly stops, so I use the MacBook. Likewise there are still a few things I can’t do, or can’t do well on iOS, like manage Medium Submissions ((Or post to Medium in general unless through Ulysses. The Medium app is a joke for creating content with.)) , News Publisher stuff on iCloud, and a handful of random Pages documents which contain fonts I have yet to install on iOS.

So I jump around between the two platforms a fair bit on an average week, and that has given me a good look at both sides. About a week ago I asked myself if I was doing the best thing for me, by using mostly an iPad Pro for work — I mean wouldn’t I be better off with a Mac?

I went iPad Pro as my primary computer back at the end of November 2015. So it has now been a full four months of the iPad Pro being my primary computing device. It feels like a good time to reflect back on the Mac. I gave the Mac a try for a full day and see how it felt after so long away from it.

It felt like comfort, but chaotic comfort at best.

It’s like going home to your parents house for the holiday. It’s home and that’s really nice. But it’s also home and that is really chaotic for most of us. So while it is always nice to visit home, you never want to really stay at home. You want to be back at your home.

That’s what the Mac feels like to me now. I really like Mac OS X, and the MacBook, and would have no problems using them, but knowing what it is like to be on iOS only now — with that knowledge — there’s no way I don’t want to be on iOS.

I have little doubt I could ditch a Mac entirely and get by fine with iOS. I could do it, but I don’t want to do it. My Mac is still an important tool for me — and not only for testing MartianCraft’s Mac apps — but as a day-to-day tool there are still many things it is better suited to, even for me.

This doesn’t mean I enjoy doing those things on a Mac — rather I find it easier to do those things on a Mac.

There’s another reason I am writing this post though.

The thought occurs to me: in another few months I won’t have a need for a proper Mac. Too much is happening on iOS to think momentum will slow down and I suspect after WWDC this year, iOS might have far greater security solutions in place than possible on Mac OS X and continued focus from Apple.

I suspect there’s going to be another app gold rush for iOS apps — this time around focused not on gaining users ever faster, but in building a solid base at sustainable prices. I can already see this with apps like Ulysses, Procreate, Pixelmator, Omnigroup Apps, and many others who are being successful in the same way Mac developers always were: steady sales, at higher prices.

Generally speaking, OS X is the niche platform now, not iOS. If it can’t yet be easily done on iOS, then there is a potential for a livelyhood making tools to allow those things which cannot yet be done, to be easily done. This may sound like less of a gold rush to many out there, but these apps still exist on OS X and are updating regularly because they still make good money. That’s going to start shifting to iOS.

The Shift

This occurred to me watching a video of teenagers reacting to Windows 95. I know this sounds silly, and the video honestly isn’t very good, but it hit me at the end when the kids were asked to turn off the computer. The classic Windows 95 message: “It is now safe to power off your computer” displayed.

The kids were rightfully baffled.

“Was it not safe before?”

No it was not. Mac’s still operate on this paradigm, with relatively fragile file systems. On the other hand, iOS doesn’t operate like this. Things are far less breakable on iOS. This distinction is important.

Face it, if you design an operating system right now for the way people actually want to use their devices — what you design is going to be far more like iOS than it is Windows or OS X.

You may not agree, but the mass wave of computer users in school today — it’s what they are going to be using.

There’s another part of the video where the host tells the kids how DOS used to require “commands” to do things and the kids were astonished you would need to know “computer code” to use a computer.

In the same sense, a Mac isn’t much different. Only the next generation after the teens in that video will look back at OS X and Windows in astonishment of needing to understand the file structure of a computer to be able to use it.

“You mean you couldn’t open your app, and all the files for that app weren’t right there for you already?”

Cling to your file systems all you want, sing the song that next year is the year of Linux. Mac OS X and Windows have already lost. Likewise iOS won’t be around forever, but I’m going to keep up with the change.

It’s the decade of iOS — it took me until more than half way through to realize it is all.

When I look at what people are clinging to on OS X, I see a group clinging to the very things which make computing more complex. We always give way to ease of use. Cars used to be more simple, and easier to fix, but harder to own and operate. Today cars are very complex, most people can’t work on them, but to operate and own a car is almost trivial.

This is the same shift we are needing to make with operating systems. Eschewing the idea that we need to be able to touch and edit every file, or we need a terminal for the OS. Instead we need something which is overly complex under the hood, so it may be trivial to operate for everyone else.

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