Why Apple would want to unify iOS and Mac apps in 2018

“Apple is said to be working on a way to allow developers to build apps that work with touchscreen input on iPhone and iPad, and with mouse and trackpad on Mac devices, to be implemented next year, according to Bloomberg,” Darrell Etherington writes for TechCrunch. “The system would unify development environments for both of Apple’s main computing platforms, iOS and macOS, allowing them to target all devices with a single app instead of having to develop separately for each.”

“Common apps, possibly with a single App Store, could go a long way towards helping improve the situation in the Mac App Store,” Etherington writes. “It would also be a lot easier for users new to both platforms, since they could rest assured that when they get a piece of software in once place, it’ll also work in the other without issue.”

Etherington writes, “Unifying the app layer of both iOS and macOS could also preface a move some anticipate Apple making down the road – building its own ARM-based chips for powering its notebook and desktop computers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup.

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

Apple to provide tool for developers build cross-platform apps that run on iOS and macOS in 2018 – December 20, 2017
The once and future OS for Apple – December 8, 2017
On the future of Apple’s Macintosh – February 6, 2017
Tim Bajarin: I see Apple moving many users to an iOS-based mobile device over the next 3-4 years – November 7, 2016
What comes after OS X? – January 9, 2014


    1. and the answer is: it’s be one less thing TIm and crew would have to keep track of and Eddy could use all of his season tickets.
      A; one less thing where strange design choices would manifest.
      A; one less sku to miss release dates.
      A; seriously, allowing laser & more singular OS focus…assuming release correlates to entire hardware line optimization.

    2. IIRC, Windows 8 was supposed to be an OS that could run on both desktop and mobile devices. From the way it sounds, Apple is keeping MacOS and iOS separate, but allowing a way to develop apps for both platforms simultaneously – they would still be separate but connected apps. At least that’s what I hope they’re doing.

    3. Nope. The iOS App Store currently allows for a single app purchase that downloads a tailored version to either iPhone, iPd Touch, or iPad. Merging the iOS and Mac App Stores to permit a single purchase that would download to iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or Mac would work in much the same way. After all, modern apps written for Apple products can run the same underlying code with only a different UI layer. Such apps could easily be packaged in a fat binary for a single download image, or the App Store could simply deliver the appropriate build to the target device.

  1. Two points:

    1: given the software issues that we are dealing with in High Sierra right now……….I think there is too much self-worship and arrogance within Apple right now for them to think clearly and to objectively accept criticism when things don’t work nearly as well as expected. I am looking at taking on the project of going back to Sierra for my Macbook and my iMac. Don’t want to, but it is costing me too much time (money) to deal with the small, yet irritating issues.

    2: In my primary app, Tumult Hype which is used to create HTML timeline based animations. I have one document that has 53 separate timelines, and in order to work with the relationships between those you need to see all of them on one screen. Some of my Hype colleagues have more than that.
    IF repeat IF Apple has the ability to write system software so that a unified operating system does not cause the kinds of compromises necessary to operate a tablet/phone interface, it might work.

    If Hype was produced for iOS, (or something like it with a touch interface, it would require a 4×8 foot screen. Why? The problem is viewing and selection of individual timelines on a screen. Fingers are too large for that. Basically the same problem as working with huge text documents. Not practical.

    I know the developers of Hype, and there are NO plans to do an iOS app, it would be not useable, and I imagine there are many apps like that people use to make their living on.

    OK, so just design as if the touch side of interface didnt exist? Ok, but the system overhead will still be there.

    And….Apple (like everyone else) does not have the best record of dealing with the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    But USERS are forced to. Just think a bit before you do it. Slap down the marketing people and don’t let them force you (and US) into stepping out of the plane without knowing the parachute will open due to an unforeseen glitch.

    1. “I am looking at taking on the project of going back to Sierra for my Macbook and my iMac. Don’t want to, but it is costing me too much time (money) to deal with the small, yet irritating issues.”

      Thank you for making me glad I’m still on Sierra on both my personal and work computers.

    2. Yes, because “working on a way to allow” means the same as “We’re going to force Tumult Hype to do it”. There’s LOTS of edge cases where it won’t make sense, but where it does, a company will be able to offer a MacOS solution where perhaps one doesn’t even currently exist!

      Or, will be able to lower development costs for their current macOS/iOS efforts (like Autodesk Graphic).

      1. I can’t imagine that the Hype developers will NOT have to do a major re-write to accomodate the differences in programming that will allow both sides, yet allow them to work differently.

        There are a lot of us out here who do 90% or more of our work on 3rd party apps, many of them small companies. They are critical to the existence of 1 person companies like mine who produced specialized web content, but at the same time use almost no Apple produced apps. I use OSX, Mail, Safari, but have no use at all for things like Pages, etc.

        My worry is not that this will make life much more difficult for small 3rd party developers, not easier.

        I have been on Mac since 1988, so I do have experience with how expensive things get when major changes come. Since the fork from Snow Leopard, cost of doing business has increased radically.

        There IS a degree of “force” involved. I hope you are right, we shall see.

  2. At least Apple’s A-series SoCs have the power to run more powerful apps, if necessary, than most competitor’s smartphone or tablet processors can handle. I’d always wanted to be able to run iOS apps on a desktop computer in a pinch. I guess I’m getting my wish. I realize Apple is copying Microsoft but I don’t really care as long as Apple can make it work well. I really wondered what pushed Apple in this direction. I’ll bet the A12 is really a beast of a processor as Apple may use it to power the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook which would be an awesome unification of Apple devices. I just hope this plan doesn’t backfire on Apple in some unexpected way.

  3. I’m struggling to see the benefit to any of this, especially with this part: ” It would also be a lot easier for users new to both platforms, since they could rest assured that when they get a piece of software in once place, it’ll also work in the other without issue.”

    No they wouldn’t. Many apps on one platform don’t even have a possible counterpart on the other, and many more aren’t developed for a variety of reasons including choice of developers that the other platform wouldn’t provide a good experience.

    We’ve seen this fail before on Windows, and the whole point for them to attempt this was that they otherwise couldn’t get development on the mobile platform. Apple doesn’t have this problem.

    Further, if providing apps across iOS and macOS is the desired objective, this could easily be accomplished through the interface in each appropriate store. Instead of having one store and frustrating users looking for one platform and finding apps only available in another, each store could simply have a button for installing on the other platform. For example, in the iOS store, when installing an app on iOS, there could be a button “Download on Mac”.

    The bigger issue here is that the Mac App Store sucks, and the reason why it sucks is that Apple hasn’t been developer focused and developers are finding it advantageous to offer their apps outside of the store.

  4. My Take is Apple has re looked at their planning.

    They have realised that Trying to faze out the Mac Pro in favour of the iMacPro was a bad idea.
    The iMacPro its self wan not a bad idea and is a good for many people in the por/semi pro market but using general software
    Their plan of convergence with consumer iPads and phones can still go ahead but they have realised is not going to happen with the tiger Pro users that need a pure desk top working environment.
    I think many Pro Apps won’t be universal they will be just for Mac but there are many no so pro but Pro enough software that does have the ability to be translated to smaller devices and visa versa.

    Rather than converge everything Apple has realised that The pro Market needs to be treated as such and it will need all those little idiosyncratic details pro software allows in order for those users to be creative without being shackled.

    The rest of the Apple eco system including many semi pro users (on iMacs running simpler software) will become more integrated with all devices and in line with Apple dream of total portability between all devices (For consumer Apps).

    Any Pro knows that they use a Mac because you can not do what you need to do on an iPad and thats always going to be the case I’m just please Apple has realised this also.

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