08/03/2018 – 3:47pm
Everyone thinks of Apple as a hardware company, but in truth, they are one of the largest software makers in the world. The company has four distinct operating systems that run on a variety of their devices: iOS, tvOS, macOS, and watchOS. Without a doubt, iOS is Apple’s most-used operating system, and given the ubiquity of mobile devices, it’s only of the planets most-used OSes. But the company’s other OSes are just as important to Apple’s ecosystem. The good news is no matter which device you use–and which OS it runs–all of Apple’s operating systems will be getting updates this year. Here’s what we know about each one.
Rumors have it iOS 12 will be massively scaled back in the new features department. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. It’s a bad thing if you like your major iOS releases to have a ton of brand new features. But it’s a good thing if you’re sick of the increasing bugs that have crept into Apple’s new releases. That’s because Apple has reportedly scaled back the new features of iOS 12–moving most of them from iOS 12 to iOS 13–in order to concentrate on bug fixes and stability improvements.
That’s not to say iOS 12 won’t have any new features. The most prominent of these will be cross-platform apps. Cross-platform apps would allow developers to build one app for both macOS and iOS. It’s not immediately clear how much this would benefit iOS–as that’s usually the platform of choice for developers, with macOS a distant second–but the benefits to macOS could be significant (more on that later). Besides cross-platform apps and bug fixes, the other big feature of iOS 12 is rumored to be new parental control features. iOS 12 is expected to be previewed in June with an autumn ship date.
Apple’s next biggest OS is macOS–the operating system that runs on all of Apple’s computers. The big feature of macOS 10.14 is expected to the be aforementioned cross-platform apps. This could potentially be HUGE for the Mac platform as it would make it easy for iOS developers to port their apps to the Mac–potentially giving the Mac tens of thousands of new desktop apps overnight.
Beyond cross-platform apps, macOS 10.14 is rumored to add the “Hey, Siri” voice command feature, as well as having a dedicated TV app (which iOS already has) or a new version of iTunes that will support Apple’s upcoming video streaming service.
And then we come to the Apple Watch. The device has gotten much better with every watchOS update. That will probably be the same case this year, but right now it’s not known what features watchOS 5 might have. While it’s sure to include new watch faces and more customization, it’s also possible that watchOS 5’s biggest features could be on the dev side. Right now Apple’s doesn’t give app devs access to many of watchOS’s private APIs. This limits the kinds of apps that the Apple Watch can support. It’s possible watchOS 5 could open up the OS to better apps.
As for the Apple TV, it’s operating system expected this year–tvOS 12–is a mystery. No rumors have leaked out about it yet. Sure, new screensavers are a given, but what other features it could include are unknown. It’s possible tvOS 12 would include an improved TV app and support for Apple’s yet-to-be-announced streaming video service–but we’ll need to wait until June when it is previewed to find out if that’s actually the case.
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