"AppAdvice" (http://macte.ch/0ghLi) and various other sites have reported that, back in 2010, Tristan Schaap -- a student who had spent a 12 week internship with Apple -- wrote a thesis that detailed his time spent with Apple’s Platform Technologies Group. They conducted experiments regarding Mac OS X and ARM processors. Could this mean an iPad running Mac OS X? I doubt it.
"The project was only made public several months ago. While iOS also uses the Darwin kernel, this project involved Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and was left for the CoreOS teams to continue," says "AppAdvice." "Since Mac OX X 10.7 Lion has since shipped, as have newer generations of iPad and MacBook Air, without any sign of Mac OS X on ARM, it’s unknown if this project is still ongoing or has since been put on the shelf. However, the author of the paper is now a full-time employee at Apple, working as a CoreOS Engineer."
Apple may have considered either an iPad running OS X or a MacBook running iOS -- but I doubt we'll see either one released. Currently, the related operating systems have their own unique purpose, though I expect they'll continue to "syngergize" until they merge at some point.
There have been Apple patents that hint at this. For example, patent number 2011097153 is for user interactions with items displayed on an user interface instead of a device. Techniques for managing user interactions with items on a user interface are disclosed. In one aspect, a representation of an opening is presented in response to touch input. A display object is moved over the opening, and the display object is processed in response to the moving.
Reading the patent it first sounds like it's talking about an iOS device. But look closely at the enclosed patent graphic and you'll see the screen is like a cross between iOS and OS X with a single app running, but with Finder icons across the top and a Dock along the bottom.
Jeffries & Company analyst Peter Misek says that combining OS X and iOS would lead to “synergies,” including better gross margins and an ease in licensing of content. In particular, Apple customers would be able to then experience TV shows and movies and such, stored in the company’s “iCloud,” across phone, tablet, or, eventually, Apple television, and get the same licensed content.
"Users want to be able to pick up any iPhone, iPad, or Mac (or turn on their iTV) and have content move seamlessly between them and be optimized for the user and the device currently being used," Pisek tells clients. "We believe this will be difficult to implement if iOS and OS X are kept separate ... We believe Apple is looking to merge iOS (iPhones/iPads) with OS X (Macs) into a single platform for apps and cloud services starting in 2012-13."
Technically, it might not be too difficult. iOS is an offspring of OS X. And OS X Lion implements several iOS features, specifically those of the iPad. Merging the two even more is a logical progression. I doubt 2012 -- or even 2013 -- will be the year this begins in earnest. But 2014? Perhaps.
-- Dennis Sellers