As strange as it sounds, it does seem like macOS is becoming more and more like iOS and iPadOS. When you trace the history of macOS over the decades, it has never looked more like iOS than it does now in macOS Ventura.
macOS Ventura has changed the UI to prioritize features typically found in Apple’s other handheld devices—especially in its System Settings app and Launchpad. But what does this mean for the Mac? Is it good or bad for macOS to be more like iOS and iPadOS?
The Pros of macOS Becoming More Like iOS and iPadOS
Let’s start by looking at the bright side. Surely, Apple, with its billion-dollar research and development department, must know what it’s doing. There are some advantages of going this route—and here are the ones we could think of.
Simplicity and Familiarity for New Mac Users
The iPhone is by far Apple’s most popular product, with hundreds of millions of units sold worldwide yearly. And one of the core reasons people prefer iOS to Android devices is their ease of use. iOS is intuitive, with no hidden menus; everything is displayed on the home screen just a few taps away.
Furthermore, the iPhone’s insane popularity makes it one of the most used operating systems in the world. As macOS becomes more like iOS, any new Mac user will know their way around a Mac better if they were using an iPhone before getting a Mac.
One of the greatest obstacles stopping Windows users from moving to macOS is learning a new OS. So, if people had to learn less to understand how macOS works (thanks to their iPhones and iPads), it would tip the scale in favor of Macs in the Mac vs. Windows debate.
This way, not only does Apple win more converts, but the converts themselves will also have an easier time because they intuitively know their way around their new computer.
Despite how different macOS and iOS are at present, you can still enjoy the Apple ecosystem’s Continuity features. But let’s imagine how much more can be achieved if Apple unified the operating systems even more. The border between a Mac, an iPad, and an iPhone will fade away even more, and you can get a richer experience from your Apple product.
For example, Apple could design it so that once you download an app on your iPhone, you can choose to download these apps across all your devices automatically.
Thanks to the Apple silicon chips, we can now install some iPhone and iPad apps on a Mac. However, many of these apps aren’t well-optimized for macOS; some freeze and crash when you run them on a Mac. If the macOS structure was more like iOS and iPadOS, then Apple could capitalize on that and give us a smoother and broader app experience.
In the past, there has been plenty of speculation about Apple making a touchscreen Mac. But as time went on, these speculations slowly died. The major argument against a touchscreen Mac is that the iPad exists. However, with macOS edging towards a more mobile orientation, this might mean Apple could surprise us with a touchscreen Mac in the near future.
The iPad and the Mac are becoming more like each other at a roughly equal rate. The iPad now uses an Apple silicon chip and virtual memory, which makes it powerful enough to work like any Mac.
Meanwhile, the Mac can now run iPad apps that need a finger more than a pointer. While this makes it unclear where Apple is going exactly, it has surely added fuel to the touchscreen Mac analogical fire.
The new additions in macOS Ventura also seem to prepare Macs for a touchscreen—especially the System Settings app. It now prioritizes settings that you will find on an iPad and iPhone. It also encourages sidescrolling and displays a vertical orientation that can be better navigated on a touchscreen device. So, if Macs became touchscreen right now, there wouldn’t be much to change in Ventura.
The Cons of macOS Becoming More Like iOS and iPadOS
Unfortunately, a more iOS-like Mac has its drawbacks, and some of them might be rooted in Apple’s greed. Here are some reasons we are afraid of macOS becoming more like iOS and iPadOS.
Macs Don’t Serve the Same Purpose as iPhones and iPads
A computer and a phone are still two different things that people buy for different reasons. While the duplication of functions in both is nice, they are still fundamentally different tools.
People primarily buy Macs to work, study, or entertain themselves for long sessions, while people get iPhones to communicate, use social media, and take pictures. Therefore, both these devices’ software and hardware design should reflect their primary purpose. When this doesn’t happen, the user experience will get compromised.
Take macOS Ventura, for instance. As stated above, macOS Ventura would do well if Macs became touchscreen devices. But right now, we have no touchscreen Macs; all we have is an inconvenient UI.
The System Preferences app in macOS Big Sur and Monterey was specifically designed for a computer. The redesigned System Settings app has poorly prioritized settings and a UI design better suited for a handheld device. This is why we think macOS Ventura’s System Settings is a downgrade.
The same rule applies to the Mac regarding iPad apps. While it is great that we can use some iPad apps on a Mac, we may never be able to use them well till Mac’s hardware becomes more like an iPad’s.
However, if Macs become smaller and easier to hold, then we won’t be able to enjoy the large crisp screens, ergonomic keyboards, and better cooling that Macs have offered over the years.
An App Store Monopoly on Your Mac
Back in 2020, Epic Games claimed that Apple ran a monopoly since they forced iPhone developers to process all payments through the App Store (where Apple has a 30% claim on the payments). This resulted in the Epic Games vs. Apple Lawsuit, where it was ruled, in theory, that Apple didn’t meet the legal requirements for a monopoly.
But practically, this is true. There may be other ways to sideload apps on your iPhone, but most people only know how to download their apps from the App Store.
With macOS becoming more like iOS, this could also happen. Of course, Apple would disguise this as a security necessity, but in reality, it would mean less income for developers and consequently less encouragement to build apps for macOS.
Should macOS Stay as It Is?
Would you prefer an iOS-like macOS, or are you against it? Both sides have pros and cons, but it’s better to take the best of both and leave the bad things alone.
Apple is free to make macOS easier to use, but they must also know where to draw the line. Even though macOS seems to be leaning towards an iOS/iPadOS build, it’s still too early to tell where exactly it is going. So let’s cross our fingers and watch!