In the history books, you could call today the official beginning of the end. Today really marks the end of the Macintosh as an independent computing platform.
For years, Apple has said that they expect to keep the Mac (an open platform, with no walled gardens) separate from the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch – a trio of platforms with a walled garden.
Reading between the lines of WWDC, it’s very clear Apple is viewing the future of the Mac as a DuoDock-like experience, where you “dock” your iPhone, iPad or iPad Pro into a clamshell or desktop experience. One that recreates the Mac look and feel, but perhaps with touch, and perhaps with a walled garden too.
All the Mac-specific technologies are headed to, at a minimum, iPad Pro – including the newly-open-sourced Thunderbolt 3 specification. Docking an iPad Pro into a MacBook Air-like clamshell, could easily auto-launch a Finder.app.
And with that, the Mac is over. Oh sure, there will be a Mac family. An iMac, a Mac Pro with a 64-core ARM array. But it will be iOS running the Mac apps and stack.
Apple didn’t go so far as to deprecate the macOS UI calls (today), but they did make very clear that they are encouraging people to embrace iOS APIs on Mac. If you aren’t using iOS’s UIKit and AppKit to build your next Mac app, you’re basically building a Carbon app in a Cocoa world (which was the choice Mac developers had circa 2002-2005).
Apple almost certainly will bake macOS for Intel machines for years to come, but it’s clear at some point, the apps not jointly built for iOS and macOS will die off at some point.
And with that, if you are one of those folks that valued Apple’s openness to third-party software – the lack of a gatekeeper to decide what apps can, and cannot be built on your platform – you now face an uncertain future. If Apple doesn’t allow sideloading on these unified systems, it’s the end for you.
And for us, that leaves just Windows and traditional desktop Linux as modern computing platforms. It’s not a great place to be if you’re part of, as Apple put it for a decade or two, The Rest of Us.