One of the big topics of discussion yesterday in our TUAW back channel was this post from the New York Times Bits blog. In "Why can't PCs work more like iPhones," Bilton pointed out that the iPhone has given Apple a chance to build a new OS from the ground up.
This is a familiar viewpoint to us here on TUAW. Last year, I asked whether the future of the Mac OS would turn out to be the iPhone. In my write-up, I pointed out that the iPhone OS was built from scratch to work with Objective C 2.0 with its properties and other modern language features. Its API, far from being cobbled together, showed ever increasing design maturity without the weight of heavy backwards compatibility concerns. I concluded that Apple might take a lesson from the iPhone OS and consider offering a ground up redesign for Mac OS X, at least in terms of core OS principles.
In his post, Bilton considers how Mac OS X might integrate iPhone OS features into its user experience, suggesting a possible Front Row-like overlay layer, running an iPhone OS interface. The goal would be to craft iPhone-style GUI simplicity onto the desktop experience, so that users could move seamlessly between their mobile and desktop worlds.
But as much as we believe that Apple is heading cautiously in the direction that Bilton suggests, the TUAW consensus is that a desktop OS needs far more structure and, at the same time, flexibility than what the iPhone OS offers.