MacOS Sonoma Is The Sleeper Giant Of Apple’s Grand WWDC Showcase | Laptops-pc News

MacOS Sonoma Is The Sleeper Giant Of Apple’s Grand WWDC Showcase

Apple touted the ability for the Safari browser to turn any website into a web app on the Mac which will be housed with its own icon in the dock and will even have a toolbar of its own.

| Updated on: Jun 06 2023, 14:44 IST
MacOS Sonoma brings one powerful feature that is not being talked about much. (Apple)

MacOS is the basis of everything at Apple. It was the core for what turned first into the iPhoneOS which was later rebranded to iOS. And iOS was then the basis for iPadOS, watchOS and also tvOS. In the lead up to WWDC, there weren't many rumours for the latest version of Apple's oldest platform. In the past few years, Apple has been trying to drive the narrative that the Mac is very important for it, something which is also underpinned by the fact that the only hardware that we saw apart from the Apple Vision Pro headset, were just Macs. But the updates in the recent years, besides the transition to Apple Silicon have been timid at best. And that's what one thought before WWDC started, but Apple sneaked in a feature in the Safari browser which could be huge which makes macOS Sonoma the sleeper hit of Apple's biggest WWDC conference in decades. 

Apple touted the ability for the Safari browser to turn any website into a web app on the Mac which will be housed with its own icon in the dock and will even have a toolbar of its own. And this is a capability which will need no extra coding on part of the developer of the website. Now, some may argue, something similar is already possible on the iPhone and the iPad and this is macOS learning from its younger siblings. But the reality is that all of Apple's platforms ping pong against each other and features are cross pollinated. In the initial years of iOS, it learnt from macOS, but now as more people opt for the iPad and iPhone over say a Mac, macOS tends to learn more from them. 

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But on a desktop this kind of feature also gets supercharged. Already on macOS, Netflix doesn't provide a native app for example. Now, using Safari, users can still get the native app experience. Similarly, this can be a modus operandi for YouTube or YouTube music or even Google Maps. A news website which doesn't have its own native app can now provide a more seamless experience as the link would be masked like an app in a container that operates like an app and well, it is on the Mac dock. This is a big win for small developers who for years perhaps haven't had the bandwidth to create apps specially for the Mac given its rather niche and small user base compared to Windows. 

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Of course, Microsoft has tried to offer such a capability with Windows, but the experience is far from perfect. Apple is surgical and once macOS Sonoma comes out, it will provide an excellent experience. This is also a way for Apple to navigate some turf wars it has engaged in. Netflix being a good example as it has been unhappy with Apple over the commission it charges via the App Store. On the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV it has had little choice but to offer an app, but on the Mac it elected to not offer an app while it does so on Windows. 

What's impressive is that these apps will also send out notifications which is a trait of native apps. 

The bigger story here is that Apple is making it easy for developers of all kinds to service the Mac. If you don't want to make an app, cool, Safari will turn your website into an app. If you make triple A games and macOS hasn't been attractive, but now with the prodigious horsepower with the M series of processors, the new Game Mode on Sonoma will provide a more optimised experience giving more processing power from the GPU and CPU towards better performance of games. It has also launched a game porting toolkit which will help developers to bring their triple A titles from other platforms. 

Thing is that when Apple transitioned away from Intel's x86 architecture to ARM with Apple silicon it managed the transition masterfully as apps complied for x86 would automatically run on Apple Silicon, providing even better performance with a translation technology called Rosetta 2. But this didn't convert to better games for a couple of reasons.

Apple's history for being a company more geared towards creative professionals than game developers. Even Apple's success in mobile gaming couldn't help it here. It has also fallen out with major players in the gaming industry like Nvidia which used to supply GPUs for the Mac, Epic Games which not only makes the Unreal Engine but is behind Fortnite, which Apple booted off the App Store for violating its terms of payment gateways. 

And then general technical challenges as triple A gaming has always been the domain of the x86 architecture which was pioneered by Intel in the 1960s. Since the 2010s modern video game consoles have fundamentally been PCs — the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X all use AMD's x86 silicon. The technology for developing games from Windows to PlayStation is very similar. MacOS was on an even keel when Apple used Intel processors, but first it fell out with Nvidia in the early 2010s which left the Mac at a graphical disadvantage. Then when it moved away from Intel, the processor technology of ARM was world's apart. Of course, Rosetta helped bridge the gap, but games are very optimised experiences which need a lot more development work  and that's what this game porting tool promises to do. 

The bigger issue for game developers is the Mac user base — it is tiny compared to the other platforms which is why they aren't motivated enough to bring their games to the Mac. The game porting tool reduces the amount of work they need to do, which is a good starting point. 

These updates to macOS Sonoma make it a sleeper hit while most people had their eyes trained on the Apple Vision Pro spatial computer.

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First Published Date: 06 Jun, 14:44 IST