In just less than two months, Apple holds its annual World Wide Developer Conference. At WWDC 2018, we expect to see what’s new for all of Apple’s operating systems from iOS to watchOS. This could also be the year that Apple begins moving toward consolidation of operating systems, making macOS and iOS somewhat more compatible. Let’s get out the crystal ball and think about things that could change in macOS 10.14.
If history is any indication, macOS 10.14 will be released to the public in either September or October of 2018 as a free upgrade. The first beta version will be released to developers shortly after the WWDC 2018 keynote address on June 4, 2018 and most likely by sometime in early July to public beta testers. So what big changes might those early adopters see in macOS 10.14?
Apple used to be really behind automation tools. These tools include the AppleScript scripting language and Automator, both of which are still in macOS but haven’t had a lot of effort put into them for years.
Apple purchased an app called Workflow for iOS (see image above) and brought the development team into the company. It would be nice to see Workflow come out as a Mac app that could work much more like the iOS version to replace the somewhat dated Automator. Even better would be developer tools, perhaps something like “WorkflowKit” that would make it simple for third-party developers to add automation extensibility to their Mac and iOS apps. Cross-platform automation would be wonderful, like being able to take a photo with an iPhone, sync it to the Mac using iCloud Photo Library, then kick off a specialized app on the Mac like Luminar or Lightroom to do some processing of the photo automatically.
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Apple might be hinting that a macOS version is just around the corner in its description of the app in the App Store. It says “Workflow opens up infinite possibilities of what you can do with your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.”
Common Code for macOS and iOS Apps
There have been persistent rumors that Apple is working on a way to run iOS apps on Macs, and this is one topic that many believe will be a keynote highlight this year at WWDC. This has a number of advantages, both for developers and for Mac users. For developers, it means that they could “write once, deploy twice”, creating apps that run both on iOS and Mac. Mac developers would benefit greatly from being to have a completely new audience for their apps, one that is much larger than the consumers of apps from the Mac App Store. iOS developers would also gain a new audience by having their apps available almost immediately on Apple desktop and laptop machines. The biggest benefit would be to Mac users, who would suddenly have a much larger universe of apps available to them.
Having a way to run iOS apps on Macs (and vice-versa) could also work into Apple’s long-range plans for the Mac. Rumors persist about “Project Kalamata”, which is Apple’s alleged plan to switch Macs from Intel-based processors to its own chips starting in 2020. If macOS 10.14 and iOS 12 apps could be written on a common code basis, it would give developers about a year or so to get prepared for running those apps on completely new Mac hardware.
A Revitalized Siri
One thing that could use a big refresh across the board for Apple operating systems would be improvements in Siri. Earlier this year, it was disclosed that Apple’s Siri AI assistant has been in trouble since it was first introduced on October 14, 2011. A report by The Information last month noted that the product was rushed to market before it was ready and was developed on a technically unstable foundation that Apple has yet to repair. One former Siri team member was quoted as saying “When Alexa shipped, it was rock solid from day one. For Siri to get there, they almost need to set everything aside and start over.”
Part of the issue with Siri lies in the lack of vision of the current Apple team. Siri was pushed by Steve Jobs and Scott Forestall, and Jobs died just before its release. Forstall left Apple in 2013, with many people believing that he did so involuntarily. Without that core team of executives with a vision of what Siri was and needed to become, the product began to falter.
In 2016, Apple finally released SiriKit for developers, adding the ability for third-parties to use Siri in their apps. However, several of the top engineers on the team have now left Apple or are working on other projects.
What needs to happen? Well, Apple probably has a pretty good idea of how to “reboot” Siri so that it’s more extensible — like Amazon’s Alexa. As an occasional Alexa user, I’m well aware of the weekly emails from Amazon that show the variety of new things that Alexa has learned in the past week. Many of those new capabilities are brought to life by developers who figure out ways of connecting devices, websites, and apps to Alexa so it can respond to user queries.
What would I want to see in a Siri announcement for macOS at WWDC 2018? Word that the company has somehow managed to get back on track with Siri, and that the company has figured out a way to make it more useful across the Apple product spectrum. Especially on Mac, being able to mutter the occasional command to have something happen would make macOS and Siri both more useful. Right now, Siri on Mac seems more like an afterthought than a well-integrated tool.
A Totally Rewritten Mail App
One core Mac app that receives more than its fair share of complaints is Mail. In fact, there are a number of Mail competitors on the market, which should indicate to Apple that the app needs to be rethought from the ground up. The biggest complaint is that Mail doesn’t seem to have many “smarts”, ways of automatically sorting or prioritizing incoming mail. As someone who has supported Macs for years, I know that many long-time Mac users still don’t understand the difference between their Inbox and the various mailboxes they can have if they have more than one email account. So why not take out that one level of confusion and simply eliminate the mailbox view?
Macs still use a lot of space for mail messages and attachments. Everything else is going to the cloud; why not move the Mac mailboxes to the cloud so they don’t need to clutter up our Macs? For example, a quick look on my iMac shows 6.97GB of space used for 230,399 items.
Time Machine In The Cloud
One thing that I absolutely love about iOS is the nightly iCloud backups. I never need to remember if they’re working or not, and that information is stored in the cloud so no matter where I am, I can always do a restore of any iOS device. macOS seems to be stuck in the pre-cloud days, with the majority of backups being done locally to external hard drives. Why not make Time Machine an iCloud function, storing hourly snapshots of data in the cloud rather than locally?
These are just a few ideas of what I’d like to see in macOS 10.14. What’s even more important are your ideas — leave them in the comments below and tell us what you want macOS 10.14 to provide.