Some Concerns About the Direction of the Mac

I’ll get right to it: I’m concerned that Apple is selling MacOS short in terms of capabilities in order to promote their proprietary technologies. Don’t get me wrong, the Mac is still a great tool for getting things done, and it’s still mostly a joy to use on a daily basis, but if what you’re trying to do strays from Apple’s vision then things start to fall apart.

Take graphics, for example. Steam for Mac was a huge development that really helped people take gaming on the Mac more seriously and it’s clear from the Mac App Store listings that developers small and large would like to sell games for the Mac. Rather than helping MacOS and the Macs they run on to reach their potential, Apple has consistently opted to ignore new technologies, like Vulkan, in favor of their own Metal when they should be supporting both.

The lack of DirectX in MacOS has led developers having to choose between building support for an increasingly antiquated OpenGL implementation, adopting Metal and having to support 3 graphics APIs across Windows, MacOS, and Linux, or ditching MacOS entirely. All too often, the later is chosen.

Year after year, Apple releases Macs with compelling hardware, only to sell that hardware short with poor software support. How many of you end up installing Windows in Bootcamp just so you can play your games? The real answer is ‘Too many’. I remember when testing the Oculus Rift, the performance on OS X was so poor that I had to boot into Windows to run a simulation smoothly. This largely contributed to Oculus Rift ultimately dropping support for the Mac entirely.

There are other areas where Apple has clearly done a poor job on something just because it isn’t their favorite thing at the moment. With Xcode, Apple’s software development environment, Apple has stuck their noses up at providing sorely needed new features for C and C++ developers for years while providing plenty of features found in more modern code editors for their preferred language: Swift. You can’t code games in Unreal or Unity game engines in Swift though, so they again shoot themselves in the foot in this area.

And, as an IT professional, I could go on and on about the unfortunate decisions Apple has made in regard to supporting Macs in an enterprise environment.

Here’s the deal: we know Macs aren’t gaming machines. They aren’t marketed as such either. But we DO expect Apple to commit themselves to making these machines as powerful and flexible as possible. That is, after all, what the marriage of hardware and software is supposed to be all about. I feel like the Apple of 5 years ago understood this and couldn’t wait to implement a new technology that would make their product stronger. The Apple of today, however, is more concerned about whether or not a new technology will make the company’s portfolio stronger. That demonstrates a clear shift of focus from care about the customer to care about themselves and that, among other reasons, is why I’m concerned about the direction of the Mac.

Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments below.