Why Apple's OS X Yosemite means business

You've been Sherlocked

Inevitably, some of these new features come at a cost, and accusations have flown around that Apple has again 'Sherlocked' existing apps and services.

The phrase derives from Apple's now-discontinued Sherlock search tool, which made its debut in Mac OS 8.5, supplanting third-party equivalent Watson. With its new features, OS X Yosemite tears chunks out of a range of players, from the aforementioned Alfred to services such as WeTransfer, Google Drive and Dropbox.

But changes to the OS also provide business opportunities: new features add scope for app upgrades to take advantage of them, and even widgets could become a profitable sideline for developers, if the revamped Notification Center takes off.

Still, as Thomson remarks, developers will have their work cut out for them, given Apple's simultaneous announcement regarding new programming language Swift:

"I've been programming in C/C++ for over 20 years, and in Objective-C for over six. The thought of having to start over and learn a new language isn't something I've begun to process."

He adds that although Objective-C won't vanish overnight, "everything is going to be Swift going forward," which is a "really big change from a developer standpoint," although one he reckons will benefit the platform through Apple thinking about the long-term.

Hit and miss

Thomson says developers may have been left stunned by Swift, but the reaction online nonetheless seems broadly positive. Still, there were omissions, both in terms of user features and also from a developer standpoint.

Elephant-in-the-room iTunes somehow survived, despite its iOS equivalent only being a store, and separate apps existing for music, video, podcasts and iOS app purchase. A rumoured two-up window view in full-screen or elsewhere remains absent, meaning no Windows 8-style window-snapping and full-screen remaining too limiting for some.

And developer Kevin Meaney says one of the biggest developer grumbles persists: "The process for code-signing and applying entitlements in preparation for app release is buggy and poorly designed, and so it's easy to make mistakes.

"Because of poor error messages, it's tricky to work out what's gone wrong, and so devs end up with duplicate code-signing certificates, and are confused which certificate to use in any particular situation. Apple needs to take the approach it's following with application development and apply that to code-signing."

The future of OS X

But beyond such specifics, it's clear the general path Apple is taking with OS X is one in which developers can thrive, creating apps that work in tandem with new features that will benefit professional users.

"When the Mac turned 30, Apple went to great lengths to stress that the Mac wasn't standing still, and the WWDC announcements certainly prove that," says Realmac Software product manager Nik Fletcher.

"The move to a sandboxed environment in OS X worried advanced users that tight-knit app integration would be stifled." But he reckons Apple's now proving otherwise.

"Apple's announcement of App Extensions should prove popular, and elevates third-party apps to the level of first-party apps. Best of all, this is also true for iOS, making it even easier for developers who build for the Mac and iOS to provide great experiences across all Apple devices."

Continuity indeed.