Apple, as the leading consumer technology company, constantly evolves it’s products and software, yet retains an inherent familiarity in old and new versions of a product and, more broadly, between each of it’s product families. When picking up an iPod Nano for the first time, users are already familiar with it’s user interface because of the iPad and iPhone. It appears that Apple is maintaining this trend with the upcoming launch of the OS X 10.7 desktop operating system, Lion, which, among with other improvements, will feel familiar to those who have already used Apple’s mobile platforms.
OS X 10.7 is due to launch in the summer of 2011 although some facets of the new operating system, such as the Mac App Store, will hit Macs before then. Apple has given some hints as to what to expect from 10.7, and by all accounts, these hints make the new operating system look much more like iOS than before. Apple will be bringing many innovative ideas first pioneered in the iPhone and iPad into the Mac user interface with new features such as fast saving and resuming of apps, full screen display and most importantly , Launchpad, a grid-like display of apps on the Mac, similar to the home screen on iOS devices.
Additionally, with the launch of the Mac App Store, the Mac desktop will become much more like an iOS device, strongly focused on ease and speed of use. Perhaps, if recently discovered patents play out, we will even see touch sensitive controls on Mac desktop computers in the future.
Combine all of these improvements with major hardware changes, such as the move from physical media storage to solid state storage and users are in line for a completely different type of experience when the new operating system is launched next year. But these changes won’t just be limited to OS X and desktop computers. Apple will already be working on changes to the iOS operating system for their mobile devices, looking to make next version more rich and intuitive. This is a difficult proposition as iOS already knocks the ball out of the park when it comes to design, appearance and usability. But with iOS 5, we can look for a more dynamic relationship between the device and the app, examples being more real time updating of app logos with information for the user (those who keep a constant check on the weather will love this one).
Near Field technology, already rumored to be in development by Apple, will likely make an appearance in future versions of iOS, leading towards tighter integration between mobile and desktop devices with wired syncing a thing of the past. Improved cloud integration and usage will also help to maintain a seamless link and transfer of information between devices.
In the fluid world of Apple operating systems, these changes will steadily come to fruition over the coming months and years, but they will always be ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation and competition with other companies. Just sit back and enjoy…