A few months back when Google announced that they were keeping Chrome OS and Android separate, I wrote a blog post about why this disappointed me. Yesterday, when Apple announced the iPhone 5S, I got a little bit of that excitement back. The introduction of the 64-bit mobile operating system gave me faith that my dream of “one device to rule them all” is on its way – hopefully sooner rather than later.
The Ubuntu Edge almost nailed the convergence of mobile and desktop operating systems. The Edge would have been the revolutionary product that showed consumers that there really was a single device on which they could do everything. The phone had exactly what was needed: a transformation for the OS that matched the change in peripherals and form factor of the hardware. Imagine if you had an iPhone that you could place in a docking device to get a full version of OSX running right from your pocket. The Surface Pro is getting close to this idea, and I think we’ll start to see Apple and Google on board pretty soon.
For now, it’s interesting to look at where these companies stand on the quest for “The One”. Each of the three big names (Apple, Google, and Microsoft) have competitors in the phone, tablet, and desktop computing space. Of those three, Google and Apple both use the same operating system (Android and iOS, respectively) for their phone and tablet offerings whereas Microsoft has a phone OS (Windows Phone OS) and a singular operating system for tablet and desktop. To me, it seems like Win8 RT was the first attempted at a hybrid; albeit one that the public was unable to see the benefit of.
Apple showed evidence in their announcement yesterday that indicates a possible shift into a singular operating system – the addition of the 64-bit processor on the iPhone 5S. The enhanced speed and power is nice, but it felt to me as though they were missing the really big push as to what they were using all of that for. The graphics were a nice demonstration but to me were not enough to justify the need for such a powerful mobile processor. So while we haven’t seen a big shift on the software side of things in Apple’s court, we are seeing changes to their hardware that may be suggesting a future united OS.
I would love to see an announcement that the new iPad is being released with a powerful new processor, set of accessories, and the ability to turn into a full copy of Mavericks when docked, but I doubt that this is going to be present for at least the next two iterations of iOS. I’d also imagine (perhaps it’s just wishful thinking) we’ll start to see more projects, commercial or proof of concept, like the Ubuntu Edge pop up. When this becomes popular, though, it will be extremely interesting to see which OEMs are able to stand up to the demand for a true “in your pocket” PC, and whether the tightly knit Apple ecosystem will prove to be beneficial or a burden.
If you’re interested in learning more about Apple’s 64-bit processor and what that means for mobile computing, I recommend this CNET article.