With the introduction of OS X Mountain Lion it is obvious that Apple is aligning the Mac with iOS devices, but it also feels like more.
The approach is akin to responsive web design: the need for sites to adjust and adapt to best leverage the device on which they are displayed. This is something that is becoming a standard when designing for the web and after this summer’s release I can’t help but wonder if it will become the standard for our applications. One look at this image from the Macworld article announcing Mountain Lion and another from The Theme Foundry’s Duet theme for WordPress and you see how one informs the other.
The Messages App on an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air
The Duet WordPress theme from The Theme Foundry
Much like responsive web design, both the form and functionality of any given app are culled as real estate and processing power are reduced. Compromises are made to ensure the best possible experience on any given device. Eventually, you wouldn’t seek out an application on your Mac and then find one that can sync with it on your iPhone (e.g. nvALT and Simplenote). The expectation would be one unified application that has been seamlessly thought through at all levels, making the distinction between mobile and desktop that much more irrelevant. This could inevitably lead to a unified App Store with truly universal apps that span both OS X and iOS.
More than an alignment of two operating systems, you can’t help but wonder if this will continue to bring the best practices used in development for the web, for our apps and for our operating systems one step closer together.
Note: Updated with an additional thought on the future of the App Store and Mac App Store