Where I work we have a department that develops apps for iPhone and iPad. And Android devices. That means I get to view new apps while they’re in development. It’s a fun activity to see the latest and greatest before it gets released.
These in-house app developers use Macs, of course, and that means iOS Simulator. Think of Simulator as an app that runs iOS apps on the Mac, fully visible and working on the Mac’s screen. It’s like having the iPhone– and all its apps– as a Dashboard Widget. I want my iPhone on my Mac’s screen.
Asking Is Free
Why couldn’t Apple update the developer Simulator app and make it available to every Mac user? Here’s how it should work. First, make it wireless. Apple already does that with Apple TV which can take an iPhone or iPad and run it in real time on a television screen.
Second, make it an accessory on the Mac which goes beyond the current iPhone and iPad screen capture mode. As that option works now, when you plug in an iOS device into the Mac, you can view and record a movie of the screen. That’s a start, but it means you still have to use the iPhone or iPad.
What I want is far simpler, more elegant, highly usable. Here’s the scenario. My iPhone is in my pocket while I’m working on my Mac, but I want to check or use an iPhone app that does not have a syncing counterpart on the Mac. Click the iPhone icon in the Dock, and the iPhone’s screen appears on the Mac screen; fully functional, fully usable, fully visible, but point-and-click replaces the iPhone’s tap-the-screen.
How cool is that?
Here’s Apple’s view of how it works on the Mac.
The whole idea behind Apple’s Simulator app is to give app developers a visual platform to design and test their apps. On a Mac.
Simulator allows you to rapidly prototype and test builds of your app during the development process. Installed as part of the Xcode tools, Simulator runs on your Mac and behaves like a standard Mac app while simulating an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV environment. Think of the simulator as a preliminary testing tool to use before testing your app on an actual device.
Simulator enables you to simulate iOS, watchOS, and tvOS devices running current and some legacy operating systems. Each combination of a simulated device and software version is considered its own simulation environment, independent of the others, with its own settings and files. These settings and files exist on every device you test within a simulation environment.
All I want is the same visual functionality combined with the ability to display my iPhone’s screen on the Mac and make it fully functional and usable without having to touch my iPhone. All that needs to happen is to have both devices on the same local network.
Doable? Certainly. Apple has most of the pieces in place already with AirPlay and Simulator. Mac users would then be able to make and place calls (rather than rely on the anemic sometimes-works system in OS X and iOS now), but more importantly use iOS apps on the Mac’s screen without having to switch from Mac to iPhone.
That method would treat the iPhone as a Dashboard Widget-cum-Desk Accessory and eliminate the requirement of having the iPhone near the Mac’s keyboard. Apple has done a good job of making basic apps– Safari, Calendar, Mail, Contacts, Notes, Reminders, et al– work and sync between devices, but third party iPhone apps that would also run on the Mac’s screen would be a big plus.