How Close Are We To A Single Computing Device?

My iPhone is a computer. And it’s almost powerful enough to be my only computer. But when I’m at my desk, I want the rich interface, multi-window interaction, and file system of Mac OS X. Mac OS X could, in the near future, run on my iPhone. Imagine this:

I’m using my iPhone as usual. It has an iOS interface with sandboxed apps, and is beautifully optimized for the screen and interaction model of the device. But then, I get close to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that I have to plug my lightning adapter into some hub that connects to these peripherals.

My iPhone detects the desktop setup, and switches over to a Mac OS X interface. It’s as if I’m running off of a Mac Mini, but all of the processing is happening on my iPhone. And if we’re really moving in the direction that Apple (and everyone else) is betting on, most of my file storage is in the cloud anyways.

App developers will ship apps that have three interfaces: iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new forms of “Universal Binaries” will be the new standard. All of the apps will live in special folders that are entirely sandboxed, and run as-is on iOS. Any app that doesn’t follow these sandboxing rules, and doesn’t have iOS interfaces will live in the traditional /Applications folder, and won’t be distributed by Apple in the App Store.

One computing device with multiple interfaces depending on what I’ve got available at the given time for an interface.

I’m sure there’s a team in Cupertino working on getting OS X to run on ARM, and then we’ll hear an announcement similar to the Steve Jobs’ Intel announcement:

Now, I have something to tell you today. Mac OS X has been leading a secret double life for the past five years. There have been rumors to this effect, but this is Apple’s campus in Cupertino. Let’s zoom in on it and that building right there. We’ve had teams doing the just-in-case scenario. And our rules have been that our designs for OS X must be processor-independent and that every project must be built for both the PowerPC and Intel processors. And so today for the first time, I can confirm the rumors that every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for both PowerPC and Intel. This has been going on for the last five years. Just in case. So Mac OS X is cross-platform by design, right from the very beginning. So Mac OS X is singing on Intel processors and I’d just like to show you right now. As a matter of fact? As a mater of fact this system I’ve been using right here…Let’s go have a look.

Perhaps in the near future, we’ll hear:

Now, I have something to tell you today. Mac OS X has been leading a secret double life for the past few years. And so today for the first time, I can confirm the rumors that Mac OS X has been able to run on iOS devices to power Mac OS X apps from your pocket. Just in case. So Mac OS X is cross-platform by design, right from the very beginning. So Mac OS X is singing on ARM processors on iOS devices, and I’d just like to show you right now. As a matter of fact? As a mater of fact this system I’ve been using right here…Let’s go have a look.

3 Comments

  1. Adil Wali says:

    Ben: This is indeed an awesome vision for the future.  It makes a lot of sense.  The primary difference between OSX and iOS, from the standpoint of a user, is the ability to PRODUCE content vs simply consuming it.  I think for many content consumer, iOS on the iPad may more than enough for their daily use case.  But for folks like you and I, the power of OSX is critical.  I don’t enjoy being hampered by iOS.  (I hardly use my iPad.) 

    This vision of the world makes sense for the power user as well as the casual one.  That may just be why it works.  At the same time, the pricetag would have to make sense to the casual user.  If it doesn’t, then this may never fly!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think this is coming sooner than you think:
    http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/phone
    Watch the video at the top, or view it here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpWHJDLsqTU

  3. Guest says:

    Nice filler post to get your stupid lifestyle blog on HN. Like this hasn’t been discussed and thought about for years.

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