If you were hoping for some big iOS updates in 2023, you might be sorely disappointed.
This is, again, due to a recent report from Mark Gurman. And, yes, I do feel like I’m quoting him constantly at the moment, but it’s January, and ‘real’ tech news is about as readily available as a unique number one song these days.
According to Gurman, Apple is focusing its efforts almost solely on one particular platform during 2023 – its mixed reality operating system which might be called ‘xrOS’ (which is a horrible name, by the way).
However, I don’t think this is necessarily all bad news. Some of it potentially is, granted – but there might be a method in Apple’s madness this year.
Let me explain.
Is ‘xrOS’ taking over?
Gurman tells us that Apple will spend most of this year working on and, presumably, actually launching ‘xrOS’. Oh, they’ll be dipping into the no-doubt voluminous snag list for iOS 16, too.
But that’s it. Any big changes that might have made their way to iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS 14, are probably going to be shelved until 2024.
This suggests that Apple is pinning an awful lot on whatever its mixed reality hardware turns out to be. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have no idea how they’re going to pitch it, at which audience it will be aimed, or, more importantly, how much the damn thing will cost.
Clearly, Apple sees this rumoured next-generation computing platform as a huge priority. However, if it really is all-hands-to-the-xrOS-pump this year, it does raise questions about what, exactly, has sparked the thirst for this strategy.
There are two possible reasons for the focus on ‘xrOS’. The first is unpalatable: Tim is panicking about the lack of a ‘next big thing’ and, much like the original Apple Watch, rushing something to market before it’s ready. Granted, that worked out well for the Apple Watch in the end, but it was a tumultuous journey that could have been prevented if the thing had been launched with a far clearer purpose – when it was actually ready.
The second reason for the focus on ‘xrOS’ is the one that genuinely gets me excited.
They’ve hit on something. This new operating system is going to revolutionise an industry that is still struggling to break into the mainstream and which is far from national consciousness status.
If that’s the case – fill your beans, Tim!
Why this might not be a bad thing
Before writing this blog post, I sat down and wracked my brain. What did I want from iOS this year? What more could macOS give me that I’m yearning for each day?
I’d even earmarked a section of this article to include a list of wish list items about which I’d need to remain patient while Apple fannies about with its iGoggle Pro Max Ultra Plus wearable.
There was just one issue: I couldn’t think of anything.
I’m happy with iOS in its current form, and the same goes for macOS. There’s nothing on either platform which frustrates me each day to the point of wishing it would be fixed, iterated, added, or removed. Arguably, the arrival of the absolutely pointless Stage Manager reveals that Apple itself is probably running out of ideas.
That’s fine – I’d much rather they focused on bug fixing and shoring things up behind the scenes than add a bunch of features which we’ll all forget about two weeks after the new operating systems drop.
There’s one exception to this rule, though.
The outlier: iPadOS
I’ve made no secret about my desire for a grown-up version of iPadOS. I know why it resides in its current form; it’s a computing platform for the masses and for those who don’t want the faff and perceived complexity that comes with traditional desktop operating systems.
The problem is that it remains impenetrably ham-fisted for any long-term macOS user who wants to make the full transition to the iPad.
I’ve tried it, but each and every time I attempt to use an iPad for every element of my business, I find myself quickly yearning for the familiarity and flexibility of the Mac. As a result, I have to force use cases for the iPad which, ultimately, never stick.
If I want Apple to put its resources into anything this year, it’s iPadOS and the launch of its own pro apps on that platform. Unfortunately, and as I hypothesised yesterday, I have a feeling that is many years away from being a reality. Gurman’s ‘xrOS’ report practically confirms that fear.
So, while I’m happy for Apple to give macOS and iOS the cold shoulder this year, I have a hard time accepting that it’ll be yet another damp squib of a year for the iPad.
January is a funny month for tech news and content – particularly when it comes to Apple.
While Samsung, OnePlus, and various other brands are teeing up new device launches, Apple remains completely silent. That silence will, presumably, be broken come March or April when we expect some form of an event hosted by Tim and co., but until then… it’s Dust Bails Max.
However, this year, I feel quietly confident. This is, admittedly, for rather selfish reasons. I’m pretty sure that Gurman’s murmurings won’t please everyone; I’m sure there are people out there who do want to see some significant updates made to iOS and macOS this year.
But as a content creator and someone who has built an audience around commenting on Apple’s product launches and strategies, 2023 could be an absolute corker.