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iOS 7 proves once again that change is the way Apple does business

John Moltz | June 24, 2013
Change can be hard for Apple, its developers, and its users, but John Moltz thinks that 'change' is just another word for 'opportunity.'


Apple's introduction of iOS 7 has sparked quite the discussion about software design—and somehow it has also magically conferred degrees in design to a whole host of laypeople. You don't have to be a design expert, or even play one on the Internet, to disagree with some of the choices Apple has made. But whether or not you agree, one thing is certain: iOS 7 is coming this fall. And if you're invested in Apple's ecosystem, you can either get on this wagon or let it pass you by. I think the smart money is on hitching a ride.

This isn't the first time Apple has turned things upside down for both users and third parties. Let's take a look back through the archives at some of the changes Apple has made to its platforms over the past 20 years.

68000 to PowerPC
When Apple started shipping PowerPC machines in 1994, it included a 680x0 emulator in the Mac OS so that all code for old Macs would continue to run on the new hardware. Even the operating system initially ran in emulation. But the speed advantage of PowerPC quickly became the hook that caused developers to update their applications for the new processor. Well, quickly for the time, anyway. Things were different back then. For starters, developers used steam-powered compilers that had to be stoked for days. You tell that to people these days, and they won't believe you. (Possibly because it's not true.)

The iMac
While mostly just a cosmetic change, the introduction of colorful iMacs was huge for third-party peripheral makers. If you're a longtime Mac user, as I am, you probably have a basement, attic, or, at the very least, a drawer somewhere that's full of candy-colored mice and USB hubs. Nobody wanted to use a beige external hard drive with a lime iBook, and third-party peripheral makers rode that idea all the way to the bank.

OS 9 to OS X
Apple bought NeXT in 1996 for its NeXTStep operating system, but more than four years would pass before it shipped its own next-generation OS—and several more iterations would come before the OS would be truly usable. Again, Apple didn't cut off the past completely. The company included two means of backward-compatibility, Classic and Carbon. The Classic environment ran a full version of OS 9 in a virtual environment—similar to the virtual machines we might run in Parallels or VMWare today—to support older applications. Carbon, on the other hand, consisted of a set of libraries that Apple supported on both OS 9 and OS X; applications coded with it could run on both operating systems.


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