People put a lot of time and effort into reading the Apple (and Steve J.) tea leaves: what will be announced, when, and will there be “one more thing”? I’ve put next to no time into this, but wanted to document my WAG — wild ass guess — for WWDC this year. I should note: I use a Macbook, but these days Mac OS X is basically a run-time for Firefox for me (my primary machine these days is a Thinkpad running Ubuntu). I use an iPod Color 60GB , and haven’t seen the need to upgrade yet. I haven’t seen an iPad in person. In short, I’m hardly qualified to make predictions about Apple corporate strategy. But that doesn’t seem to stop anyone else.
I believe Apple will announce that you’ll be able to run iPhone OS applications on Mac OS X. Why? Well, it just seems like it fits.
- Apple is obviously investing heavily in iPhone OS. One indication of its importance is that the Apple Design Awards are limited to iPhone OS applications this year.
- As the iPad has launched, and developers have been crafting applications to watch video, read news, and listen to public radio, the question has been raised: why weren’t people creating applications that looked this good for laptops? I’m sure people using Macbooks would love to have some of those apps. (I really don’t believe iPhone OS has any secret ingredient that suddenly enables ABC to create a video player.)
- Apple’s restrictions to the iPhone SDK agreement, prohibiting the use of third party development tools, will allow Apple to easily switch hardware platforms, ala PPC to x86 — or support an additional architecture if needed. You know, an additional architecture like x86.
- Apple has experience with compatibility virtual machines (see: Rosetta), as well as LLVM. You can imagine these experiences informing support for running iPhone OS applications in a sandbox on Mac OS X, or re-targeting the application at compilation time.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it inserts Apple into the middle of additional software purchases, enables them to leverage the App Store further, and exert additional control.
So that’s my WAG for WWDC. I think it’ll be sold to developers as a way to reach new users, and provide an end-to-end, mobile to desktop experience (I won’t be surprised if they launch improved, wireless sync between your iPad and Mac at the same time — syncing documents between iWork for iPad and your Mac sounds like hell ). I think it’ll be sold to users on security and stability: iPhone OS applications would almost certainly have limited privileges on the desktop, and if you replace your laptop, logging into your iTunes account would sync your apps back to the machine.
If I’m right, users will undoubtedly begin to see [beautiful] software stream onto their desktops from a single, tightly controlled pool, and developers will devote hours crafting tools with the hope they’ll pass muster, and make it into that pool. If I’m wrong, well, I’ve been wrong before. And this is just a wild ass guess.