WWDC: OS X 10.11 and iOS 9: K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

Why do we think we know so much about iOS 9 and so little about OS X 10.11?

Mac users will cheer news that c.20 percent of older machines continue in active use, even while newer Macs use a current OS, but they will be flummoxed figuring Apple’s OS X 10.11 plans.


“We've got incredible new technologies for iOS and OS X to share with developers at WWDC and around the world, and can't wait to see the next generation of apps they create,” promised Apple’s Philip Schiller, announcing WWDC, but even the rumors aren’t telling us much about OS X; though they have plenty to predict on iOS: WWDC: Everything we think we know about iOS 9.

I think that’s a little strange.

Looking at what we do think we know it strikes me just how closely aligned improvements across both OS X and iOS seem to be this time around. The frequently accurate pundits at 9to5Mac say both operating system’s are set to acquire rootless security, Maps improvements and the Apple Watch ‘San Francisco’ font, among other things:

Control Center

Originally anticipated within OS X Yosemite Control Center for Mac would gather music, Wi-Fi and other appropriate controls, similar to the iOS equivalent.


Apple is improving its iCloud servers in preparation for more use of the service, includes transition of sync services for key Apple apps (such as Reminders or Notes) to iCloud rather than IMAP.


Swift apps will carry Application Binary Interface code preinstalled, meaning they will need less space and use less cellular data when run.

Force Touch

Apple is likely to provide Force Touch SDK’s so developers can work with the feature to improve their own apps – and this is also expected on future iOS devices.


I do think it possible Apple has been developing OS X in plain sight -- most are so focused on iOS the company can keep secrets while it works; there is also a chance the source of most known WWDC claims is a member of a team that has no/little insights into Apple’s Mac plans.

However, what I think we are seeing strongly suggests Apple will continue to drive toward feature parity, with incremental enhancements to OS X designed to align it more closely with iOS (and vice versa).

I don’t think the time is right – yet – to take this to its logical conclusion (one OS for every platform) – particularly in light of Microsoft’s failure to make that work so far.

In order to gain better insights into the company's plans I do think we should pay particularly close attention to any processor or hardware technology announcements Apple might make in the coming months. ARM-based MacBooks may even eventually turn out to be not entirely impossible.


Apple hasn’t told us the name of OS X 10.11 (code name, “Gala”). We do know the company has trademarked relevant use of major Californian landmarks and animal names, including: Big Sur, Diablo, Farallon, Grizzly, Mammoth and more.

Given claims OS X 10.11 will (just like its iOS 9 equivalent) be stripped for efficiency and stability improvements, (rather than becoming a victim of feature-creep), I think Diablo may be a name too far, but we can wait to learn the decision.

(I do wonder if Apple will match iOS 9 with the introduce a version of the OS designed to run effectively on older Macs in order to defuse those critics who want to accuse the operating system of “fragmentation”.)

One thing we can be reasonably certain of is that iOS means the enterprise segment is more open to Apple than it has been since the ‘80’s, so developers can expect to learn much more concerning Apple’s partnerships and security enhancements for enterprise IT.

And Apple watchers can look forward to a little more of the big picture concerning the future of the Mac. 

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