Photos for OS X, releasing this Spring, could quietly signal a much welcomed change in direction for Mac development. That is, if Apple decides to let programmers access the same private framework it tapped in constructing the clean and elegant user interface seen in a developer beta of Photos for Mac.
As SixColors pointed out, several prominent developers took to Twitter to share their excitement about the framework Photos for Mac uses, currently available only to Apple. It’s called UXKit and appears to be an OS X version of the UIKit framework on iOS.
What does this have to do with you? Read on…
The UXKit framework has been discovered in the files that make up a beta version of Photos for Mac. The photo-management application, which will be a replacement for iPhoto, is included in the latest beta of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 that Apple seeded to developers earlier today.
I should point out that UXKit is hardly the only private OS X framework.
In years past, Apple used a bunch of private frameworks to gain edge on third-party developers. Private frameworks allow Apple to infuse its apps with special features that its developers cannot implement through public frameworks.
UXKit is so special because Mac developers have been craving for an OS X version of UIKit for years now. It’s therefore perfectly understandable why some high-profile programmers are now calling UXKit the future of Mac OS X development — even though the framework, as we said in the opening paragraph, is currently private.
Excited about UXKit. I hope it really is the future of Mac OS X development.
— Mike Cohen (@mike3k) February 5, 2015
To understand their excitement, you must first appreciate UIKit.
UIKit is a crucial framework in iOS which provides the infrastructure needed to construct mobile apps, manage user interfaces, implement interactions and more.
But Mac devs have never had anything resembling UIKit.
Consequentially, should UXKit go official, devs will construct user interfaces and design interactions in their iPhone, iPad and Mac apps using two very similar frameworks: UIKit on iOS and UXKit on OS X.
The new Photos for Mac is based on a new private framework in 10.10.3, UXKit. It is essentially a replica of UIKit, based on top of AppKit.
— Jonathan Willing (@willing) February 5, 2015
As a result, porting iPhone and iPad apps over to the Mac will become a lot faster and much easier than before. And if Photos for OS X is anything to go by, UXKit-driven Mac apps will be easier to use and provide more consistent user experiences across platforms.
In that regard, UXKit isn’t so much about bringing OS X and iOS closer, but about helping iOS devs port apps to the Mac with greater consistency and fidelity than before.
Photos for Mac is coming this Spring, as per Apple’s notice on the Photos for Mac webpage. Just like its iOS counterpart, Photos for Mac syncs with your iCloud Photo Library (5 gigs are free, more storage available via paid upgrades).
Designed to replace iPhoto as the default photo-management application on the Mac, Photos for OS X gives users the tools to enjoy, manage and browse their photos by time and location in Moments, Collections and Years views.
The convenient Photos, Shared, Albums, and Projects tabs, in conjunction with easy-to-use editing tools, make it easy to touch up your photos, optimize them with a single click, create custom libraries, purchase prints in square and panoramic sizes and more.