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TIMO ZIMMERMANN

balancing software engineering & infosec

WWDC2019 – macOS

posted on Monday 10th of June 2019 in

WWDC2019 was exciting. And I mean really exciting, not the usual „12 facts no one cares about and one new thing we already knew about“. Instead of trying to pack all my thoughts into one post I decided to go for a series, especially because I want to discuss my thoughts on some announcements more extensively – looking at you SwiftUI, Project Catalyst and privacy.

Let us start with macOS, which’s still my daily driver. It looks like Apple noticed that iTunes is not really a piece of software people love. Or like. Maybe tolerate because there is no other option. It simply aged pretty badly. So they went for a pretty simple solution – one app for one task. Pretty Unixy isn‘t it? While I sometimes hear people complaining on iOS that they do not like the native apps, most seem pretty fine with them. And pretty fine is a lot more than what people say about iTunes, so this is a step into the right direction.

Under the hood there are also a lot of changes, and a few I really like.

While there are a lot, those are my absolute favorite changes. All of them directly contributing to stability, security and privacy, which are in my opinion the three areas we need most work and innovation.

Sidecar will allow you to use your iPad as a second screen including Apple Pencil support. While working on technical documentation or specs I often create sketches on the iPad and then insert them into the document I am working on. Sidecar will most likely make this a lot easier with being able to draw directly in the app. On the road it will also be nice to have a second screen for the MacBook. It is one of the features where I can see most people blink and go „meh, whatever“, it feels like a niche feature. Digital artists on the other hand might be pretty excited about this.

Now to the most interesting one: Project Catalyst. There are different ways I heard people describe it: „game changer!“ or „the end of the AppStore“.

I am the last to disagree that we will see a ton of badly designed apps, ported without effort that just sit in the AppStore and contribute to the mediocracy of the broad offering. But companies and engineers who could not afford the resources for a dedicated Mac app but actually care will now be in a position that it might be viable to actually ship Mac apps. Which I would really appreciate. I‘dwe rather take a slightly lacking, native application over yet another Chrome instance running to render a totally unusable web app.

Having more native, high quality applications on macOS should, in the long run, make the platform more attractive and hopefully bring us back to a time where we can run a chat application without investing 2 CPU cores and 2GB memory. It will surely be enough work for larger applications to adopt the different user interface and expected interaction design, but at least you do not have to maintain two applications in parallel.

Looking at the apps that were presented on stage does, in my opinion, not give us a good idea on how complex it will be to port an app, but at the same time they look pretty usable from far away and likely are better than a web application.

Judging from the changelog and the warnings it is still a bit early to test it on a production system, but it surely will be a nice to have upgrade.