Apple software chief Craig Federighi told employees at a company meeting in January 2018 that Apple is focusing on security and performance improvements in macOS and iOS in 2018. As a result there will be fewer major changes to the macOS than there have been in previous is focused on getting iOS apps to run on the Mac as part of a project codenamed Marzipan, more on that below.

Other than that, we don’t know much about what Apple might add to the next version of macOS. And we certainly don't know what it will be called, other than macOS 10.14. But here’s what we expect and when we expect to see it.

What will Apple call the next version of macOS?

Continuity would suggest that Apple will call the next version of the Mac operating system macOS 10.14. However, there are a couple more options. It may feasibly decide that it’s time to move on from macOS TEN (or Mac OS X for the die-hards) altogether and graduate to macOS 11.

Of course if it was to do that macOS 11 would be out in conjunction with iOS 12, so it might sound less advanced.

With that in mind, another possibility is that the next version of macOS could mark the first steps towards merging iOS and macOS, with a more unified naming convention for the two OSs. We’ll look at that possibility below.

Of course it’s not all about numbers. Apple has for many years chosen a name to represent the Mac operating system. Initially generations of Mac OS X took names of big cats, Leopard, Jaguar, Lion. In recent years the names of choice were based on popular sites in California. We have this article that lists some potential California locations that the next macOS might be named for.

macOS 10.14 release date

We expect to see Apple’s first demo of the new Mac operating system at WWDC in June 2018.

Then it is likely that the new software will be available to download in September or October that year.

New features in macOS 10.14

As we mentioned above, Apple's main focus in the net version of the Mac operating system will be security and performance improvements, but that doesn't mean there won't be any exciting new features. In particular we can expect Apple to make it possible to run iOS apps on a Mac, a change that could revive the market for Mac apps.

Merging macOS and iOS

You will be able to run iPad apps on MacOS 10.12 when it launches in the autumn. At least that’s Apple’s plan, according to an Axios report.

The first mention of this project came in December 2017 when Bloomberg wrote that Apple plans to combine iPhone, iPad and Mac apps. This is part of a secret project called ‘Marzipan’.

According to Bloomberg: “Apple plans to change that by giving people a way to use a single set of apps that work equally well across its family of devices: iPhones, iPads and Macs.”

Developers will be encouraged to expand iOS apps to Macs. “People familiar with the matter” told Bloomberg that: “Developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac.”

By unifying the app development it is hoped that third-party Mac apps will be more frequently updated. Currently most of the development funding seems to go to iOS apps.

This seems to contradict some of Apple’s comments in the past about running the same operating system on devices that have a different purpose. Tim Cook once described a merged OS as being like a toaster-refrigerator which lead to the understanding that Apple would never go down that path.

Indeed, since the rumour emerged, Apple CEO Tim Cook has quashed the suggestion that Apple is planing to unify macOS with iOS as part of project "Marzipan", restating his belief that mobile devices and computers should remain separate with their own operating systems.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, following Apple’s Education focused event at which the company launched the new iPad, Cook said: "We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two ... you begin to make trade offs and compromises.

"So maybe the company would be more efficient at the end of the day. But that's not what it's about. You know it's about giving people things that they can then use to help them change the world or express their passion or express their creativity. So this merger thing that some folks are fixated on, I don't think that's what users want.”

However, with Google working on an OS called Fuchsia OS, into which Android and Chrome OS will be merged, would Apple risk being left behind if it turns out this is what people want?

Rather than a full-blown merger, we expect to see more of the best of iOS coming to macOS, and more of the best of macOS coming to iOS.

For example, there are some neat features on the iPad, such as the way Split View works, that would be welcome on the Mac.

We could also see features like Control Centre giving access to System Preferences, Sleep, Shut Down, and more. An iOS style App Switcher could also macOS. We’d really like to see a redesigned Apple menu too.

Multitouch can’t be implemented in terms of the screen as Apple doesn’t, and is unlikely to, offer touch-sensitive screens. However, Apple does offer the multi-touch trackpad on its MacBooks, and this could enable many more multi-touch style features.

UXPlanet has some great examples of how this merger of the operating systems could work. He concedes that the new combined OS would simply need to support both x86 and ARM.

We’d also like to see the News app and the TV app on the Mac.

Faster waking and unlocking

Another area that Apple is seeking to improve in macOS 10.14 is waking and unlocking.

According to the Axios report mentioned above, Apple wants to make improvements in performance when waking and unlocking the system.

Security

Apple has come under fire for issues with bugs and vulnerabilities in MacOS High Sierra (and iOS 11). As a result the company is placing special emphasis on addressing security and performance issues in the next version of macOS.

New iTunes

The app that needs the most work in our opinion is iTunes and we think that Apple is saving this for the next version of the macOS and iOS. In fact we think that Apple has a lot up its sleeve in regards to iTunes, which we think it in for more than just a redesign but a complete rebrand.

We think that the new iTunes will offer music and movie subscription service. More here.

Dark mode

New code in WebKit suggests that macOS 10.14 will get a system-wide dark mode. This particular code will adapt rendering of a website in reaction fo Dark Mode settings.

A Dark Mode is nothing new in macOS, as it’s been available since El Capitan, notes 9to5Mac, but this will bring the Dark Mode to all apps, system-wide.

Currently Dark Mode adjusts the colour of the menu bar and dock, but little else. The Dock’s translucent background becomes darker, the menu bar’s drop-down manus are darker (although still translucent).

However, not all third-party apps offer support for the dark menu bar, and even some Apple apps, such as Safari, feature a bright translucent sidebar. Read more about Dark Mode on the Mac here.

Currently developers have to opt in to Dark Mode and their apps won’t have the same translucent effect on their menus. The code suggests that Dark Mode will be applied system-wide when requested by the user.

64-bit apps

High Sierra was the last macOS release to support 32-bit apps. Apple announced back in the summer of 2017 that applications in 10.14 would be 64-bit only.

In fact “New apps submitted to the Mac App Store must support 64-bit starting January 2018, and Mac app updates and existing apps must support 64-bit starting June 2018,” states Apple on its developer website.

This will force app developers to switch to 64-bit - which is good news if it means developers can deliver better software and making use of more than 4GB of RAM.

In preparation for this move, Apple has started showing a warning in High Sierra 10.13 which indicates that an App is not optimized for your Mac if it is 32-bit, read more about what the warning means here.

System requirements

The fact that the next very of macOS won’t support 32-bit apps also hints that there may be a few more Macs that aren’t supported either.

Another clue as to which Macs might not be supported is Metal. Macs that don't have Metal support could get dropped after High Sierra.

This could leave only the following Macs:

  • iMac models from 2012 or later
  • MacBook models from 2015 or later
  • MacBook Pro models from 2012 or later
  • MacBook Air models from 2012 or later
  • Mac mini models from 2012 or later
  • Mac Pro models from late 2013

This seems unlikely this soon though. So we think it’s more likely that we might see the following Macs supported.

  • Early 2011 or newer MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt
  • Early 2011 or newer iMac with Thunderbolt
  • Late 2017 iMac Pro with Thunderbolt
  • Mid 2011 or newer Mac mini with Thunderbolt
  • Early 2015 or newer MacBook with USB-C
  • Mid 2011 or newer MacBook Air with Thunderbolt
  • Late 2013 Mac Pro with Thunderbolt

You’ll notice what that last option means - no more cheese grater Mac Pro support. Apple had better hurry up and launch it’s Mac Pro successor.

Concept images from UXplanet.