macOS Sierra and iOS 10: Leaving the Past Behind

June 15th, 2016

The preliminary word is out. Unlike the former OS X El Capitan and iOS 9, some older gear will not be supported with the forthcoming macOS Sierra and iOS 10 releases. While it’s still a pretty wide-range of equipment, some models have been dropped.

So for macOS Sierra, all Macs from 2010 on will be supported, along with the 2009 iMac and MacBook. That means from six to seven years, which is actually quite good. Some of those older Macs are long in the tooth, and I suspect the El Capitan user experience was not very snappy, so it’s about time for Apple to set them behind. The list of supported hardware, which includes all of my Macs, is actually quite good.

Sure, I’m writing out of self-interest, but still. I’m glad to be able to run the macOS Sierra betas without having to come up with the cash for new gear.

The same holds true for iOS 10. Some of the older models supported by iOS 9 are passed by. So forget about such gear as an iPhone 4s, iPad 3 (or third-generation), the original iPad mini or the iPod touch, fifth generation. In saying that, iOS 9 was no great shakes on these and other “vintage” products, so it’s no great loss. Yes, I’m aware that some published reports listed a wider range of supported products; I’m basing my summary on the reported system requirements that iOS developers will encounter. That could change later on, though that rarely, if ever, seems to occur.

Now some might suggest that Apple is leaving older gear behind just to sell you new stuff. That is not doubt partly true. But it’s also a matter of offering a good user experience, and when the hardware can barely keep up with the operating system, it’s not so good. Those of you who installed iOS 9 on an iPhone 4s, or an iPad 3, might agree that they should not have bothered.

Of course, it may not matter if the new operating systems really don’t offer much content that makes it compelling. While performance is reported to be pretty decent on early betas, I can see where users of older gear, particularly iPhones and iPads, will not have a satisfactory user experience.

As I reported yesterday, public betas will be offered in July, to give Apple more time to massage the builds to deliver better performance, and reduce the long bug list to a more acceptable level. Still, I am reluctant to recommend that most of you try these betas, at least until the late stages when they are close to release. For an iPhone, it’s not so serious if you run into a problem, because you can restore your device. But with macOS, you will want to install Sierra on a second partition — as I plan to do — or another drive. Another option is to use a Mac that you can spare for testing with the full realization that you might have to erase it and restore your stuff (from a backup, I trust) it something serious goes wrong.

Now as to the new operating systems, from what I’ve learned so far, I do not find the changes as especially drastic. For most of you, the look and feel will be similar enough to the current release that you can go about your business without a lot of exposure to the changes. In iOS 10, though, notifications will appear in black type over a a light gray background, which ought to make them far more readable, especially for a quick glance. I am not a fan of white on black text, and I have avoided it for the most part on my various sites.

The early chatter about Safari 10 for Sierra reveals a promising development that should help rid the online world of Flash, Java and other potentially harmful plugins. According to published reports, you will have to manually activate such plugins should you choose to use them on a site. The default setting is for HTML5, and there will be no way to set it up to use plugins by default.

Once you give approval to use the plugin for a site, if you don’t visit that site again for more than 30 days, you’ll have to activate it again. Obviously, if you run a site that requires any of these add-ons, you are apt to lose traffic when people are forced to click through placeholder labels to see your content. But that’s the way things are. Every time I read about a new security problem with Flash, I realize its time is passed.

All right, as some of you know, I have one site with a small amount of Flash content, for our “Attack of the Rockoids” sci-fi novels, and a web developer is working with me to remove it for good. Otherwise, I am happy to set Flash aside. But I remember, say about 10 years ago, when the person who helped me set up all of my sites told me that Flash was the future and I needed to make all of my sites compatible. I’m glad I didn’t listen to him.

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2 Responses to “macOS Sierra and iOS 10: Leaving the Past Behind”

  1. dfs says:

    My one concern (and it’s probably a paranoid one): will all my current software continue to work with Apples new filing system? Since I operate a web site my workhorse app is Adobe Dreamweaver 5. I never upgraded this because it works fine for my purposes and I don’t want to get involved in Adobe’s online pay-as-you-go scheme, which would bankrupt me. If Apple ever puts out an OS or a new Mac on which it won’t run, that will be the end of the line for me, I’ll stick to the latest and the greatest which will support it, but that’s my personal line in the sand.

    • gene says:

      The new file system is being tested and is not expected to be released until 2017. I expect it’ll come with Sierra’s successor, since it would seem out of place to just release a file system. I would also expect that Apple will make certain that there is near-complete compatibility with existing gear and software.


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