Every time I read one of the sycophantic articles predicting OS X is going to become like IOS, I have to laugh. That’s not going to happen, at least, not in the long term. So in the spirit of the new year, when every fool (I’m speaking most definitely of myself here) proceeds to stuff foot deep into mouth, I offer the following IOS, OS X, iPad and iPod predictions:

First, IOS needs to move towards OS X as the devices get more memory, CPU power, and resolution. The iPad/iPhone OS needs to add a real filesystem with nested folders, powerful shells (yes, just like OS X’s), full bore printing, real multitasking, etc. The further IOS moves towards OS X, the more useful it will become.

The IOS devices themselves need lots of hardware improvements, and I’m sure we will see them as Apple realizes the actual way people want to use the iPad / i Pod, although it may take a few years yet before the simpleminded “dumb-it-down” attitude now infecting Apple decays in the face of reality. Right now, competing devices can’t offer these things, so there’s no pressure on Apple to do so either. But that competition is coming, absolutely guaranteed, and then I expect to see, in no particular order:

o more CPU power / cores
o higher resolution, pseudo 3d (stereo-vision), then finally volumetric 3D
o (much!) more high speed RAM
o (much!) more storage
o standard memory card interface(s)
o integrated tuners (hopefully a full bore SDR… can’t beat that!)
o better batteries, then fuel cells, then ultracaps for extreme high speed charging
o slow self-charging when off (solar, ambient light, heat, kinetics, etc.)
o wireless charging (via pads, initially.)
o IR and RF control outputs for use with entertainment systems as remotes
o removal of the ridiculous bezel and replacement with rear fold-out handholder
o integrated stand(s)
o more sensors (air pressure, EM pulse and field, FLIR cameras, chemical, “smell”, etc.)
o wireless instrumentation APIs for front ends like voltmeters, scopes, medical instruments, etc.
o Robot control APIs
o Home control APIs
o USB, then Thunderbolt, then… something even better, most likely wireless
o wireless HD output to media centers
o near field tech for credit card replacement
o integrated keyboard(s)

On the other hand, OS X needs to be more like itself, not like IOS — that’s entirely the wrong direction. OS X needs its warts fixed (like, when will we be able to refresh a changed network share, Apple? How about a decent file open dialog? When can we have menus on application windows instead of six monitors distant in multi-monitor systems?) and then it needs new features like automatically gathering in other Macs on the network and sharing computation loads, 3D support (not 2-view stereo-vision, which is lame, but actual 3D volumetric displays and i/o APIs), considerable improvement on speech input capability, etc.

Going towards IOS, sandboxes… all of these are crippling paths that will only hurt the OS, even in the short term. Just watch as competing tablets arise with more powerful capabilities… how long do you think Apple users will put up with Apple being the vendor of the least powerful machine out there?

I flat-out promise you that simplifying OS X towards IOS is exactly the wrong direction to go; and that the iPad and its brethren will “power-up” as the years go by, if for no other reason than market pressure.

We may have to endure a few years of mistakes like cloud storage (just wait till the first major failure for people to realize what a bad idea that is! I can imagine the screaming already…) but the path before us cannot stay locked to simplification.

Most competent people want power; they always have. The lower functioning will be dragged along, kicking and screaming, and so will designers who wrongly think everyone should be forced to use an interface designed for a 3 year old: pretty as hell, and limited to “safe and easy” things.

I look forward to being able to hold a computer that outperforms my Mac Pro in my hand, and which interacts ever more powerfully with the environment, both natural and technological. I’m sure you do, too… even if Apple is telling you that you really ought to be satisfied right now.