Apple's oldest shipping operating system is about to be made new again, and here's our wish list!
OS X was a revelation that breathed new life not just into the Mac, but into the PC industry. Over the years Apple has steadily improved it — even bringing iOS advances "back to the Mac" — but now the editors and writers of iMore have come together to ponder another, bigger question: What comes next?
So… OS X or macOS, what say you?
macOS, all the way. (But I still hate that there's no capital letter. iOS, yes, fine. tvOS is silly. macOS makes me feel like we've wandered into an alternate future where everyone hates product capitalization.)
Sure. Consistency is great. But really, as long as it still works great, it could be called 12 Doors.
I'm guessing Apple will move into the MacOS nomenclature with the release of the next operating system, but if you're asking which title I prefer, I'm a fan of OS X. I just like the way it looks and flows. It is also the designation that Apple has been using for its Mac operating system for as long as I've been using one.
I'm thinking macOS. There's been some debate over whether Apple will call it MacOS or macOS. My vote is for consistency and that means macOS! I'm hoping the simplification carries over into OS numbering, too.
macOS! It fits the pattern of iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, it brings back the Mac to the operating system name, and it looks and sounds great.
There's every indication Apple has been ramping up to this. Here's hoping they make the jump.
Then, the only questions is — macOS 10.12 or just macOS 12?
Window management and split view, what's still left to be done?
Split View is a lovely idea and a great way to make iPad-only users feel comfortable on a Mac, but it's not for power users. (On my MacBook Air, I was always a Full Screen four-finger-swipe-between-windows kind of gal.) Mission Control has come a long way from its Exposé roots, and I use it constantly to find windows; the new layout is excellent.
Overall, though, the main problem with Mac OS and window management is that people are habitual creatures: We're used to cluttered windows and overlapping information, and we're not going to use new tools unless they're the only option. I never use Split View on the Mac because I have a workflow that already functions; I use it constantly on my iPad because it's the workflow that makes the most sense.
I rarely use Split View, because the dynamic between windows and fullscreen apps necessitates a bifurcation of workflows (unless every window is turned fullscreen, which becomes untenable after a while).
I use an app called Hyperdock to snap apps to the sides of the screen within the single window paradigm, and I find that works better than Split View. I'd like to see this added as an official option with a few more features.
I like Split View on the Mac, but it is a little awkward to work in. When I have two windows open side-by-side and get a ping in slack, Split View disappears when I open Slack. Then, I have to go back to Split View to work. I'd like to be able to have windows hover, like they do when I don't have Split View open.
I'm also not a fan of the way Multitasking works on OS X. It is seamless on iOS and I'd love to see Apple rework Multitasking to look more like it does on my iPad Pro.
I love my Mac because of its window management freedom. I don't use split view and rarely use the other organizational features, because I'm a control freak who likes my windows just so. In other words, Apple can introduce a million new window management features as long as it doesn't interfere with my window unmanagement™.
I like last year's revamped Mission Control quite a bit. I also like Split View, especially on the MacBook. The biggest problem I have it it, though, is the inability to change the apps in the Split View.
I'd love to be able to throw apps into Mission Control to create a Split View, and then be able to return to the selector to swap out and in the apps.
So, Siri for the Mac? Do you want it and, if so, how would you want it to work?
YES PLEASE. Spotlight with a Siri dictation option would be incredible, and I'd use it constantly. The only question is Siri's coherence: With a good microphone, will Apple's voice assistant be fast and smart enough to parse queries effectively?
I was raised on command lines, and Spotlight on the Mac (and its often-handier counterpart, Alfred) is still my favorite power tool. I see Siri being well utilized for those with visual impairments, and for accessibility reasons I think it is long overdue on the Mac.
But for people whose workflows are ingrained in the traditional duality of type-and-swipe, I'd like to see Siri take the primary form of an improvement to Spotlight, with conversational commands and semantic understanding being tightly integrated.
Siri on the Mac would be a fun addition to the operating system. If it worked as good as it does on tvOS, it would be a fantastic and useful productivity tool. Unfortunately, I have a feeling it will work more like it does on iOS, which means a lot of heartache and frustration.
Siri could be a great search tool for finding files and documents inside my local hard drive, but I'm also worried that it won't work with content stored on an external hard drive (similar to the way Siri doesn't search for content in Home Sharing on tvOS).
Basically, I am excited about the idea of Siri on the Mac, but don't have high expectations for its practical execution.
Back in the day (when I was running on Windows), I remember installing Dragon NaturallySpeaking on my Dell laptop and using my voice to open up browsers, search the Internet, send email, etc. It was a lot of fun and I think Siri could be just as — if not more — fun on the Mac.
I already use Spotlight for almost all my Mac navigation; Siri seems like the logical, voice-based next step.
Siri on the Mac is long overdue, if only because of how important voice control is for accessibility. For many of us, it's nice to have. For those with visual impairments, it's a must have.
Regardless, full-on Siri for Mac would be great for voice search and voice commands, and if integration with Spotlight continues, for text search and commands as well.
Mail and messages, how could communications be better?
I have yet to use a mail client that integrates time- or date-based reminders without completely ruining my organizational system: If Apple could figure out a way to do that under the hood, without the IMAP folder trickery, I would be sold one hundred percent.
On the Messages side, let's finally fix the iCloud-side problem and stop creating multiple text threads for a single group text. Or multiple threads when you text someone's iCloud address, then their phone number. Contacts has been smart enough for years to group that together; let's see Messages do it, too.
I'd also love to see link card-type features show up in Messages: Expanding the URL to include the title and short description when you paste it, or reviews of a restaurant when you link it.
I don't use Mail on the Mac, so I can't answer that. The reason is quite simple, too: Mail doesn't respect Gmail's native aliasing features, which I use extensively in my third-party mail app of choice, Airmail. So let's start with that, shall we?
As for Messages, I think Apple has finally resolved its iCloud synchronization issues that prevented certain SMSes and iMessages from finding their way to Mac from iOS devices.
I'd love to see better support for in-line linking across all of iMessage, not just the Messages app on the Mac. Because Messages on the Mac makes it so easy to send longer and more complicated bits of text than on an iPhone or iPad, I think being able to preview pasted links would be a great step to making iMessage more collaborative.
I'm very happy with Messages on the Mac. With Continuity connected, I can respond to text messages without having to even look at my iPhone. Plus, I use Jabber to connect other chat services, so I don't have to keep a bunch of windows open in order to communicate with people throughout the day. My only request would be that it works better with Google Chat. Currently, I have to have Gmail or the Hangouts window open in a web browser for a chat to appear in a Messages window the first time.
I use the Mail app exclusively on my Mac, but there are actually a lot of third-party mail apps that look better and have a more useful user interface. Apple needs to rework the OS X Mail app from the bottom up. It feels outdated.
Syncing, syncing, syncing, syncing, syncing! It's such a silly thing, but man-oh-man do I get heated when I can't get the red badge to disappear from the Messages icon in my Dock. I will go to great lengths to get that darn thing to disappear. And the problem is, I'll have read all my messages, be it on my iPhone, iPad, or the Mac itself. So please, Apple, please make things sync better.
As far as Mail goes, I haven't used the built-in Mail.app for ages. Third-party clients offer some pretty nifty stuff that the current version of Mail doesn't offer. Give me snoozing, reliable Gmail support, highly customizable swipe actions, settings sync between devices — basically, give me Airmail and then we'll talk.
Messages has been working well for me lately. I wish details came out as a proper column, like it does on iOS, and not a popover, but overall it's been pretty good.
Mail is an old workhorse and feels like it's coming to the point where Apple has to give it its iMovie or Final Cut or iWork moment. Gestures and peek and pop have given Mail for iOS new life. I'd like to see how Apple could do the same for Mail for OS X. If for no other reason than to get VIP to load in less than 30 seconds...
Photos for Mac. Talk to us!
Photos needs just a few things to be truly great, in my book: A better workflow for external editors than third-party extensions; support for GIFs; and smarter batch editing. I also wouldn't say no to expanded searches — being able to search "hamburger" and have photos with hamburgers show up, like what Google offers, but I'm not sure how Apple could pull it off without compromising user security.
Photos is great in its current form, but it can't and likely won't ever replace Lightroom as my editor of choice. I still find the export workflow quite strange: there shouldn't be a distinction between exporting and sharing.
The editing features are actually more robust than I expected them to be, and I applaud Apple for that.
I've been happy with Photos on the Mac, overall. My biggest complaint is the limited editing features. I'd like better editing tools and a lot more filters and features. If you don't want to make any significant changes to a picture, Photos is great. If you want to make your pictures look better, you'll have to edit in a different app.
I have a dirty little secret: I like the photo-editing features in Preview more than those in Photos.app. I know, I know, I'm terrible. But look, I can get way better results (or at least ones I'm happy with) using Preview. When I'm after more sophisticated control I use Lightroom.
That said, Photos is a great way to get at all the photos I've taken on any of my devices. Quicker sync, better editing tools, and a restoration of faith in Apple's cloud services would be aces!
Photos for Mac feels like it's getting there. I can drag straight into Photoshop, just like I used to be able to do with iPhoto, and — shamefully — that's still my primary workflow.
The basic tools are are still solid as well. Where it needs work is in the heavy lifting. Faces is still a chose. Search is still extremely limited. And it still feels rough around the edges and unfinished, even though it's been out for more than a year now.
There's nothing wrong with Photos that hard work won't fix. I hope Apple's devoting the resources to fixing it.
Now the big ones: iTunes and Apple Music. Go!
Burn it down and redesign it from the ground up. Seriously. iTunes is a big, bloated mess of seventeen different features, and while minor updates have addressed small pain points here and there, we need a big rethink. In an ideal world, I want a Music app and Videos app, just as with iOS, and I want my Music app to very clearly delineate what content is mine, what's locally-stored, and what's streamed.
I am likely parroting my colleagues here, but I'd like to see a dedicated Apple Music app, or at least make it available on the web. Decoupling it from iTunes on the Mac would make it a much more welcoming experience, and a service I would take advantage of more often as a result.
iTunes has improved considerably over the past year, but there still doesn't seem to be any consistency to it. I rarely engage with the iOS App Store through iTunes, likely because it's impossible to push downloads to an iOS device. That I can explore app listings is great, but let me actually, you know, engage with the cloud.
I listen to Apple Music on my Mac more than I do on any other Apple device. I love it. I also love how the iTunes Store and the Music app are separate on iOS and would love to see that kind of separation on OS X. I'd also love to see a separate iOS App Store on the Mac.
As for separating my personal digital music collection and Apple Music, I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. I know it is a major issue for some Mac users, but I've never had a problem with my music mixing with Apple Music.
As I mentioned in our Apple Music roundtable, I quite like Apple Music on iTunes for macOS. Where Apple Music on iPhone and iPad have sometimes let me down, Apple Music on macOS has always been solid. I'm probably the only person in the world to feel this way, but I don't want a separate app for Apple Music, iTunes, TV Shows, Movies, Podcasts, Etc. Too. Many. Apps.
I think iTunes could use a little bit of polish and reorganization, sure, but I don't want everything separated out into little content islands. So, yeah, give me a more intuitive UI and leave my content alone.
I don't listen to Apple Music on the Mac and, since the advent of iCloud, I barely open iTunes. That won't stop me from sharing some thoughts, though.
I'd love it if Apple Music never touched local music. Enable Apple Music and second, separate iTunes folder gets created and Apple Music goes in there, safely away from your existing library. Then, a virtual, unified view would be created and you'd see both. No more confusion, no more data loss.
As to iTunes, I fear that, for as long as billions of dollars of transactions passes through it, and as long as Apple sells legacy iPods that need to sync over a cable to Windows PCs, modernizing it will be a challenge. iTunes for iCloud would help, and it feels like we're getting there, but whether it's now or next year, I don't know.
Safari, Notes, Maps, iBooks? Any other changes you'd like to see in any other Mac apps?
The new Notes app is great, though I wish the drawing feature was also available for the Mac; it'd be a really neat way to iterate on a drawing or make further tweaks.
I'm a lifetime Safari user (sorry, Chrome), and I've been pretty pleased with the improvements the web browser has made over the years. For me, it's just about cutting down on the memory leaks and making Safari even speedier and more functional.
I won't use Maps until its underlying data is better in New England — which is a shame, because I actually quite like the Maps app.
I've become a huge fan of Notes since its overhaul in El Capitan / iOS 9. It feels like the simple-yet-capable writing tool I've wanted Evernote to be for years (made better by its native ability to import Evernote content).
Like Rene, I'd love to see a bit more image intelligence and automatic link expansion. Start treating native web objects like first-class citizens.
I feel like Apple needs to completely rework the Dashboard or just get rid of it. I don't use it, and I really don't see it as a benefit on Mac. It needs more developer support and better marketing. It is kind of a black hole of a feature.
Since I'm going to be losing my favorite Mac calendar app this year, Sunrise, I'd really be happy to see better third-party integration on the built-in Calendar app. Right now, I can connect Trello to Sunrise and it is invaluable. Please, Apple, let me sync with Trello.
I've got to agree with Rene on Apple News for Mac — I would love, love, love to have Apple News on the Mac. I used to use Reeder for all my RSS news needs, but I like some of the nifty content organization and display features of Apple News on iOS.
Notes is a beautiful, reliable application. I just want the functionality to more closely match what's available on iOS. I want to be able to do all the things I can do on the Mac on iOS and all the things I can do on iOS on the Mac. Wouldn't it be super swell if Notes supported basic context-aware features, giving me the ability to write in Markdown in Notes? I'd love that!
As for Maps and iBooks …
I'd love Apple News for Mac. Like with iOS, tie it into Safari Reading List and Shared Links and give me a unified, system-level news service that's surfaced anywhere and everywhere I may want it.
Some level of OCR in Notes would be great, so if I drop in an image, and the image contains text, that text will also show up in search — including text I've hand-written on iPad with Apple Pencil.
Overall, though, I'm joining that camp that would enjoy smaller but more consistent updates throughout the year, rather than just big feature updates once a year. Big new stuff, sure. Keep the stage. But just like with iOS 9.3, a series of smaller updates quarterly or so would give better life and dynamism to the apps.
What would you like to see from the Mac App Store?
Recognition that what we have now isn't working, and some major work needs to be put in to ensure a MAS that developers and users want to use. The major exodus of prominent developers over the past two years should be a dire warning to those working on the store; I just hope that work is being put in, and the dream of the Mac App Store isn't left to die.
Unlike on iOS, where sandboxing was a deal made with the Devil to ensure our security, it occasionally feels punitive on the Mac, and has caused a rather severe rift in the developer community between those who support the Mac App Store and those who don't.
While I love that the Mac App Store keeps tabs of my purchases and makes it easy to reinstall oft-used apps on new machines, I find myself getting less and less value from it. I think it would be worth Tim Cook or Phil Schiller publicly recommitting to the MAS as a viable place for developers to make money. At WWDC, I think such words would go a long way.
I was so excited about the Mac App Store when Apple first launched it. Then, unfortunately, it got zero love. It's an incredible service for helping Mac users find great programs to make their experience better. But, Apple has all but ignored the Mac App Store. While Apple has been working to make OS X, iOS, and tvOS work together better, it has done nothing to update the Mac App Store in the same way.
The Mac App Store needs some TLC. It's slow to load, it's buggy, and don't even get me started on discovery. That said, I really think TLC is all it needs. If Apple gives it a little attention — a little love — it could be as good as the App Store on iOS … which could also use some TLC.
Maybe with a little TLC and a little of what Daniel mentioned (some public attention from Cook or Schiller), developers could once again find a truly viable platform for selling their apps.
Some love. I get that iOS makes stratospherically more money for Apple, so almost all resources go to that App Store, but once MAS was announced, Apple became responsible for it.
And compared to the iOS App Store, it's embarrassing. We still can't gift apps. The interface works differently than iTunes or iBooks. It just reeks of neglect when it should be a point of pride.
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, recently took sole responsibility for the App Store, including MAS. Schiller loves the Mac. Let's hope that love shows itself in the MAS.
Under the hood, what updates would be good? File system, security, performance, battery life — What tops your list?
Apple's Mac operating sytem is a long-running titan, and I appreciate the updates treating it as such. iOS is exciting because a touch interface requires new and dynamic improvements upon the old way; macOS is about refining what works rather than reinventing the wheel. That's not to say that both operating systems can't take cues and improvements from each other, but they're distinct entities, each with their own needs. As such, rather than flash and spunk, I like seeing security and speed improvements on my Mac. I like small fixes rather than major reinventions.
That said, I'm still waiting for more Handoff adoption and better Continuity features. I'd love to be able to pass music from my Mac to my iOS devices.
Improved battery management would be a great way to start the macOS legacy on the right foot. Increasingly, claims of 10 to 12 hours on a new MacBook have dwindled as background tasks and headless apps take turns eating into my limited supply. A so-called Low Power mode, similar to what is found on iOS, would be ideal.
I'm happy, overall, with the way Apple has been dealing with incrementally upgrading OS X. I don't have any strong feelings one way or another about how the company is handling things under the hood.
As long as Apple doesn't take away my control of the file system, they can do whatever they want with it. I don't want iOS-style file management. Ever. EVER. EVER.
I'm feeling pretty doggone secure on my Mac, so I don't have any real wishes there other than, "make things more secure, plz." As for performance, "make things better, faster, stronger, plz." And as for battery life, "give me more battery life than I have now, plz." See? I like to keep my wishes simple.
It feels like Apple has taken a modular approach to OS X. Step by step, newer technologies are being introduced alongside older ones, and can eventually replace them. Swift is probably the biggest example. Discoverd, the worst.
Somewhere in the middle is the new Launchd, App Transport Security, System Integrity Protection, the San Francisco font, and more.
That's what I'm continuing to look forward to. Not a revolutionary change, but a steady set of improvements. Until we get that new file system, of course….
Last but not least, what landmark should follow Mavericks, Yosemite, and El Capitan?
As I come from there, I'm required to love my homeland, but I'm just not feeling the California landmarks for Mac OS releases. Let's see something new in the theming. (I know some folks are rooting for no themes at all, but to you, I say no fun. No fun at all.)
I'd love to see some Redwood love, but like Rene I'm expecting a super clean simplification to macOS. Let there be reboot!
If Apple sticks with the Yosemite theme, there are still a couple of iconic landmarks to choose from, like Mariposa or Tuolumne. It might be cool to see another California State Park, like San Simeon or Calaveras. Apple will probably just move back into the MacOS name, though.
Goodbye, themed OS X updates. Hello, macOS numbered updates. Need I say more?
I'm kind of hoping Apple drops the landmarks and goes with the crisp, clean macOS brand. None of the other OS have marketing names, not iOS, not watchOS, not tvOS.
Sure, we could get OS X Redwood or Golden Gate or Sanoma. But I'd love it if we got simple, elegant macOS.