macOS Mojave brings the Mac more in line with the iPhone. This article covers the most important macOS Mojave features presented at this year’s WWDC keynote.
Table of Contents:
- iOS 12 Overview
- Dark Mode Finally Comes to the Mac
- Dynamic Desktop
- Desktop Stacks
- Finder Finds Improvements in macOS Mojave
- macOS Mojave Integrates Markup Into Quick Look
- macOS Mojave Screenshots Become More Like iOS
- Continuity Expands with Continuity Camera
- News Comes to macOS Mojave
- Stocks Comes to macOS Mojave
- Voice Memos Comes to the Mac
- Home Brings IOT Automation to macOS Mojave
- macOS Mojave Enhances Security and Privacy
- Safari Protects Privacy in macOS Mojave
- Apple Store for Mac Becomes More Like iOS
- Metal Gets Heavier with macOS Mojave
- Machine Learning Gets Smarter with macOS Mojave
- Apple Denies Converging macOS and iOS
- Is AppleOS the Future?
iOS 12 Overview
If you’re looking for groundbreaking innovation and myriad new features, look elsewhere. macOS Mojave demonstrates, once again, that the Mac is a stepchild and the iPhone is the apple of Apple’s eye.
The biggest change to macOS Mojave is that it runs some iOS apps. Apple has been busy creating a UI framework to simplify porting iOS apps to macOS. Craig Federighi vehemently denies that Apple is converging macOS and iOS. He also strongly denied that Apple was working on a car in past WWDC keynotes. As Craig becomes less of an engineer and more of an executive, his doublespeak skills seem to be improving. If he keeps it up, he could even have a future in politics!
I think a unified AppleOS is more likely than iOS 13. Not many tech products make it to the 13th revision. AppleOS doesn’t mean that an iPhone and Mac will have the same capabilities, any more than iOS equalizes the iPhone and iPad. Windows runs on a wide array of devices, including tablets. I really think 2019 will usher in AppleOS, unifying all of their devices under one common codebase.
The more technically inclined are well aware that all Apple operating systems share the common Darwin kernel. They are very similar, yet different enough to require significant effort to port from one OS to the other.
Apple benefits from this move by reducing the number of developers needed to create their core operating system. This would also reduce defects, as there are no “one offs”, at least with their core components.
This is highly speculative and it might not happen. Unfortunately, future possibilities are the only exciting thing about the Mac. macOS Mojave is underwhelming, and Apple stocked the peanut gallery with sycophants who get excited over Dark Mode. No wonder Apple fanboys are so despised!
Dark Mode Finally Comes to the Mac
Apple engineers have been working hard… on iOS. The company’s emphasis on iOS has clearly pulled resources from macOS. Dark Mode is evidence of Apple’s neglect of macOS. This is the big feature in macOS. Yes — Dark Mode.
Apple developers have been working “hard” on changing desktop color properties. It is done very well, and it looks great, but it is just dark mode. In a world where people fawn over social media fluff (wow! I can send a message to another person!), the hype over dark mode is par for the course.
Xcode looks fantastic in dark mode. Apple isn’t embarrassed at all that their flagship IDE wasn’t customizable at all. Emacs and VI users have had these features for decades, on an otherwise bland and user-unfriendly interface.
The most surprising thing about dark mode is the audience reception. “Developers” were fawning over it at the WWDC keynote. Maybe that’s because the room is mostly full of tech journalists who think Twitter is magic. They have no clue how low hanging this fruit is. It’s rotting on the ground!
If you were underwhelmed with Dark Mode, Dynamic Desktop is slightly more ambitious. It changes the desktop color throughout the day. Morning, afternoon or night, your desktop changes subtly throughout the day.
The WWDC slides didn’t really show a subtle change. It showed three different backgrounds for morning, afternoon and night. If this is all it does, this feature is really lame. It’s just some simple conditional logic. If the changes are truly subtle and gradual, that’s a bit more impressive. In either case, it’s not the most useful feature, but it is aesthetically pleasing.
The superfluity continues with another small productivity feature. Desktop Stacks arranges similar desktop file types into stacks. Presentations are in one stack, spreadsheets in another.
Right off the bat, the problem is that a project may have spreadsheets, presentations and other files. Most users will want all of these files together and not split into stacks based on type. Files can be arranged into Stacks by name, kind or tag.
If you are an organized person who tags all of their project documents, you probably already have them in a folder. I don’t see this as a truly useful feature. It’s fluff.
The ability to scrub a stack is somewhat useful, although the icons are so small, it will be useless for most.
The WWDC crowd of tech “journalists” (they’re really just marketing people who think they’re journalists) applauded this feature as if it cures cancer. Talk about iSheep! I like Apple products, but they’re clearly loading the peanut gallery with sycophants.
Finder Finds Improvements in macOS Mojave
Apple’s Finder service gets a new Gallery View, making it easier to work with images. This makes a lot of sense, as photographers and graphic designers seem to prefer the Mac. The new view makes it easier to browse images, view details and launch Quick Actions. Craig demonstrated multiply selecting a PDF file and images to generate a whole new PDF using Quick Actions. The problem is, most document authors want control over layout and don’t want automatically generated documents. At best, it is a starting point.
The most impressive aspect of Quick Actions is that they are customizable. Users can create macros in Automator and assign them to buttons on Finder. If you still think Apple devices are simple and rigid, you probably don’t use a Mac.
macOS Mojave Integrates Markup Into Quick Look
Quick Look is a popular feature that enables fast, lightweight access to files. For example, if you want to quickly look at an image, Quick Look is the perfect tool.
macOS Mojave brings Markup to QuickLook. Users can now annotate images, documents and other files with text and graphics.
Craig presents a very useful example of this technology, by using it to sign a field trip permission slip, without launching a heavyweight app.
Don’t expect to be doing major edits to images or videos using Quick Look. Its capabilities are still limited and light weight. That said, the feature will most likely save time and effort for the average Mac user.
macOS Mojave Screenshots Become More Like iOS
Continuing the theme of overselling small improvements, macOS screenshots now function like their iOS counterparts. Taking a screenshot displays it on the lower right side of the screen. It’s on the lower left on iOS. Viva la difference! As with iOS, users can access the screenshot immediately, using Markup to make changes.
Users can also take video screenshots using the new HUD. This is a slight deviation from the iOS video recorder, allowing users to select an area of the screen to capture video. This is a surprising feature for Apple to implement, as it may enable piracy.
The most impressive feature is that video screenshots can be immediately dragged into a new document. It’s not rocket science, but it is very convenient. I’ve found that Apple usually offers the shortest path to complete most tasks.
Continuity Expands with Continuity Camera
macOS Mojave’s offerings are, for the most part, humdrum. But when Apple can sell more iPhones, they get quite a bit more creative. Continuity Camera is an impressive feature that shows off the power of the Apple ecosystem.
The feature allows users to use the iPhone camera directly within a macOS Mojave app. For example, a graphic designer could be working on an image, leaving a placeholder for a photograph. Simply by “right clicking” (or doing a two finger trackpad press) and selecting “Take Photo”, the user can seamlessly use their iPhone to take and insert the photo. The iPhone is already aware that Continuity Camera has been initiated, and is ready to go. Once the user takes a photo to their liking, it can automatically be inserted into the original document. Color me impressed! That’s some serious system integration!
Even more useful, Continuity Camera can scan and insert documents into macOS Mojave projects. This is a boon for people who are tired of using slow, outdated flatbed scanners. I use my iOS devices for all of my scanning needs.
News Comes to macOS Mojave
Apple’s human curated News app is finally coming to macOS Mojave. Personally, I don’t like this app, as its human curation is highly biased. Unlike with Google News, you will rarely read anything bad about its parent company on Apple News. Many have noticed that the service is biased toward Apple. Billionaires and corporations buy news outlets precisely so they can shape the news to their advantage. Apple News is just another brick in the wall.
If you are an Apple fanboy, the News app will do what Guy Kawasaki used to do, but much more subtly. Users won’t see damning stories about Apple. Instead, carefully curated news will manufacture consent for Cupertino.
I strongly recommend steering away from any echo chamber. Most studies have found that the PBS NewsHour, The Economist, BBC and Reuters are amongst the most trusted sources of news. (No, CNN is not the most trusted source for news, despite what the authoritative voice of Darth Vader would suggest. That’s straight out of the Milgram experiment.)
Stocks Comes to macOS Mojave
Hand in hand with news, the lightweight Stocks app is also coming to macOS Mojave. Most Mac users have probably already settled into a preferred stock app. Apple’s Stock app has very little to offer. Even though they have integrated it with Apple News, most people will use their brokerage’s offering, as most stock apps and sites allow trading and deep research. Apple News integration actually makes me less likely to use this. Again, this is about the wealthy “curating” news to further their ends.
Voice Memos Comes to the Mac
Yet another underwhelming iOS app has been ported to the Mac. Craig mentions that the Voice Memos app is the most used audio recording app in iOS. I don’t doubt this. It’s good enough, free and already installed.
The best thing about Voice Memos is that it now works across devices via iCloud. You can record a Voice Memo on an iPhone and easily bounce it to a Mac. Unfortunately, the ability to translate a memo to text is still not available.
Home Brings IOT Automation to macOS Mojave
As Apple plays catch-up with macOS, yet another missing piece of the Apple ecosystem is made available to Mac. Mojave users will finally be able to control home automation devices using a Mac. The app functions almost identically to the iOS version.
One may wonder why so many iOS apps are being ported to macOS. The big reveal of this year’s WWDC is that macOS Mojave now has an API for porting iOS apps. Apple’s ports are tests of this technology.
The writing is on the wall. There will probably be no iOS 13 or macOS Rancho Cucamonga. Instead, I firmly believe that Apple will unify all devices with AppleOS. Apple firmly denied this, however, in the past, Craig also denied that they are working on a car.
macOS Mojave Enhances Security and Privacy
Given the current state of the world, people are weary of technology that compromises privacy. Even if you have nothing to hide, the most innocuous information can be used against you.
Apple has greatly enhanced privacy and security in macOS Mojave. Every possible location of personal data is protected. Any attempt to access this data provides users with a warning.
Mac users don’t need to do anything to implement these new security features. They automatically apply to all apps.
Safari Protects Privacy in macOS Mojave
Social media and search companies have implemented website controls that track users across websites. “Like” buttons and comment sections access your identity through social media networks (Open Graph) or other means. This is why you see many of the same advertisements across different web pages. (For full disclosure, this site uses Google AdSense and Analytics, however, users are tracked anonymously. I only see aggregated information about users, stripped of any personal information. The reports help me write better content.)
Whenever a web page tries to access your information, Safari will pop up a warning. Users can choose to allow or disallow access to their personal information. I think people will be surprised at how widespread this access is, and may be annoyed by frequent warnings.
As a web publisher, I find this feature to be a bit alarmist. Human beings are not looking at this information and writing code, on the fly, to show specific ads. This is all automated. But all of this gets mashed up with Facebook and foreign hacking attempts. The reality is, Apple is implementing a feature that hurts their competitors — Google and Facebook. The Chicken Little warnings about web privacy do more harm than good. It’s obnoxious to the end user, and Apple is hoping you will get off the web and use apps, which they control. Well played, but also painfully obvious.
The EU has similarly gone insane about privacy, to the point of ruining the web for end users and publishers. Their irrational fear of cookies is uninformed and has ruined the web. With the addition of Safari’s new privacy feature, users will be bombarded with messages before they even read the first sentence of a web page. Google owns the Internet and Apple wants to drink their milkshake, or at least bump into them so they spill it.
Safari adds another feature that hurts users, web developers and web publishers. HTTP headers expose information about a users system. Although this fingerprint is sometimes used to track users, it also enables web developers to dynamically cater content to different devices. Craig wasn’t specific as to what information would be absent, but he mentioned system configuration. If web developers can no longer query the system information of a major portion of their visitors, the web will be a worse place. That seems to be Apple’s plan, and now that people are irrational about security and privacy, they can get away with it.
Apple Store for Mac Becomes More Like iOS
The overarching theme for macOS Mojave is of Apple playing catch up with the Mac and rapidly transforming it into iOS. The macOS Mojave App Store is yet another example of Apple bringing iOS features to the Mac, years later.
The “new”, redesigned App Store looks and functions much like its iOS counterpart. Users can watch previews and read in-depth descriptions of apps. Create, Work, Play and Develop tabs have been added to the App Store. I’m not a fan of implementing app categories as tabs, only to see another tab labelled “categories”.
People claim Apple are UI experts. That was a long time ago! Now it seems to be a case of too many chefs spoiling the broth. When a new UI/UX expert is hired, they will always change and often negate the last design. It’s like how a dog will make his mark where another dog just did its business. Indeed, Apple’s UIs have been overhauled so many times, they are starting to resemble yellow liquid squirted out by dogs. iTunes is such a disaster, Apple has had to slowly pick away individual apps (TV, Music) from this bloated media platform. It seems like the App Store is headed in this same direction.
macOS Mojave adds a ratings and review API for apps. This means that you will be pestered to rate and review apps within the apps themselves. Thanks, Apple! (I’m being sarcastic. This “feature” is obnoxious!)
The presenter mentioned that the App Store is a boon to developers. This is not entirely true. Half of the software on my Mac was purchased and installed outside of the App Store. Developers realize that Apple’s 1/3 cut of gross receipts is highway robbery. Many of them opt out of the App Store. It is only a matter of time before Apple disables the ability to side load apps on a Mac. It will be locked down, just like iOS, and the App Store will be your only option. You will see macOS jailbreaks shortly after this occurs.
Metal Gets Heavier with macOS Mojave
Metal is Apple’s high performance graphics API. It allows code to run directly on the GPU, or “bare to the metal”, hence the name.
Metal for macOS Mojave adds support for external GPUs. This is a major advancement, and it could usher in a whole new era of gaming for the Mac!
Needless to say, the demos were simply breathtaking. If developers and consumers get on board, this could really steal gaming away from Microsoft and the PC makers. After all, high end gaming PCs are very expensive. A Mac with one or two eGPUs could offer greater performance at a similar price, with better reliability.
Metal also uses machine learning to process some graphical computations, such as shaders. This allows graphics code to execute even faster on macOS Mojave. Instead of doing the machine learning training on the CPU, Metal can do this on the GPU, with a twenty-fold performance boost.
Machine Learning Gets Smarter with macOS Mojave
CreateML is new developer tool that allows non-experts to train machine learning. Users simply feed data to CreateML as the code executes on the GPU, providing much faster training performance.
Craig presented the real world example of Memrise, a software company that provides a visual object recognition solution. Before CreateML, it took them 24 hours to train their systems. With Apple’s new technology, it only takes 18 minutes.
Apple has also made Core ML 2 more efficient. The API is now 30% faster and offers a 75% reduction in model size.
Apple Denies Converging macOS and iOS
Craig Federighi went on record saying that Apple will not merge macOS and iOS. As mentioned previously, he also denied that Apple is working on a car. Fool me once, shame on me…
A few minutes later, Craig unveiled a new API that allows iOS apps to run on macOS. This essentially converges both operating systems. Don’t be fooled by the UI. That is merely the shell of the operating system. This is one of those semantic issues where it all depends on who draws the line between macOS and iOS. iOS was born from the same Darwin kernel as OS X and macOS. All Apple operating systems are variations built on the Darwin kernel.
For now, Apple has ported key UI frameworks from iOS to macOS. This seems almost inconsequential, unless you know how similar these operating systems are already. Craig admitted that they are built on many of the same core components and services.
The “new” macOS apps that were ported from iOS are phase one of this “experiment”. (In reality, this is well-defined point on their product roadmap, not just some wacky experiment.) Next year, developers will be able to port their own apps to the Mac.
I don’t think Apple is triskaidekaphobic, but I’m sure many of their users are. There will be a fair number of users who won’t install iOS 13 for superstitious reasons. There’s a dearth of products with “13” in the name or version number. There are even buildings that have a 12th floor and 14th floor, with no 13th floor. (Yes, the 14th floor is really the 13th floor, but superstitious people don’t stay up at night thinking about their college loans.) I find it hard to see iOS 13, especially when Apple is replacing the “i” with “Apple” in so many products.
Is AppleOS the Future?
This year’s WWDC keynote leaves me with the distinct impression that iOS and macOS will converge into AppleOS. Craig’s denial is all the more reason why I believe this will happen. iOS 13 just seems unlikely to me. Beyond phobias, Apple has been busy replacing their “i” branding with “Apple” branding. iOS, the iPhone, iPad and iPod are the last products to conform to this new nomenclature.
Regardless of what the future brings, macOS Mojave only offers modest improvements. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Given Apple’s current crop of developers, feature-cramming will most likely result in severe defects. As much as I would like to see the Mac get the same attention as the iPhone, it doesn’t make sense. The iPhone is still two-thirds of Apple’s profits, so it makes sense for them to take it seriously. Like it or not, the Mac has been sidelined.