Apple’s Craig Federighi details how iOS apps will run on Macs

“While Apple still plans to ship two distinct operating systems—one for mobile, one for desktop — the company has been working on bringing iOS apps to Mac hardware,” Lauren Goode reports for Wired. “In an exclusive interview with WIRED, Federighi said the frameworks for porting iPhone and iPad apps to the Mac have been in development for two years. He revealed some of the technical details around how this will work, and shared some of the types of iOS apps he believes make sense on the Mac. Federighi was also dismissive of touchscreen laptops—a product category that would seem like a natural addition to Apple’s line once laptops begin running touch-first mobile apps.”

“The point of this is not to create a single unified OS, Federighi said,” Goode reports. “At a high level, Federighi described what Apple is doing as bringing an iPhone software framework over to Mac and making it native to Mac, rather than using some type of simulator or emulator. Both iOS and macOS share a common kernel and have common sets of frameworks for things like graphics, audio, and layout display. But over time, each platform has evolved differently. The biggest and most well-known framework is UIKit, but that was built for iOS way back at the start and wasn’t designed to address mouse and keyboard controls. With macOS Mojave, UIKit will be updated. Just like developers are currently able to target an iPhone or an Apple TV as the device where their app will run, they’ll soon be able to target the Mac as well.”

“Using Xcode, Apple’s app-making software that runs on Macs, a developer will be able to indicate they want to write a variant of their iOS app for macOS,” Goode reports. “Federighi told me he’s ‘not into touchscreens’ on PCs and doesn’t anticipate he ever will be. ‘We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds familiar:

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

Does it make more sense to be smearing your fingers around on your notebook’s screen or on a spacious trackpad that’s designed specifically and solely to be touched? Apple thinks things through more than other companies… The iPhone’s screen has to be touched; that’s all it has available. A MacBook’s screen does not have to be touched in order to offer Multi-Touch™. There is a better way: Apple’s way.MacDailyNews, March 26, 2009

To us longtime Apple watchers, Cupertino seems to be saying, “Multi-Touch on the screen only when trackpads are not part of the device.”MacDailyNews, November 19, 2008

How Apple might approach an ARM-based Mac – May 30, 2018
Will the 2019 Mac Pro be powered by an Apple ARM-based chip? – April 6, 2018
Project Marzipan: Can Apple succeed where Microsoft failed? – December 21, 2017
Apple is working to unite iOS and macOS; will they standardize their chip platform next? – December 21, 2017
Why Apple would want to unify iOS and Mac apps in 2018 – December 20, 2017
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
Apple, a semiconductor superpower in the making, looks to build their own ARM-based processors for Macs – September 29, 2017
On the future of Apple’s Macintosh – February 6, 2017
Apple’s Craig Federighi explains why there is no touchscreen Mac – November 1, 2016


  1. 🙄 Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either. 🙄

    All it takes is a Computing 101 class to know this is not going to happen. Study CISC vs RISC and you’ll understand.

    As for iOS apps running on Mac, Apple already allows this via XCode for developer testing. So what’s the hold up providing it to Mac users?

      1. Macs are already being augmented with ARM (A-Series) chips! That’s excellent! And ARM isn’t lazying around. They’re expecting their new Cortex A-76 CPU chip design to be just as fast as some contemporary Intel CPUs. Most excellent:

        ARM promises laptop-level
        performance in 2019

        Chip design company claims performance comparable to Intel’s Kaby Lake.

        Adding CPUs adds cost to devices. But nothing is stopping Apple from augmenting Macs with further A-Series functions, including running apps alongside all the Intel X86 CISC based code. It could be interesting.

        1. I agree and if they are adding the previous years A series generation (at least to the low to medium level Macs) to add the extra capabilities it actually makes Apple’s overall chip business potentially more cost effective overall creating a win win.

          I am still open minded about the addition of touch on Macs as a designer/illustrator as it can be potentially useful in a specialist manner for example using your finger as a smudge softening tool in a photoshop situation but generally I would agree the two platforms are best kept apart for the most part. As I have said before perfection for me would be to use an iPad as a touch imput device seamlessly with my Mac on those occasions when I wish to do the above, far better than using your finger on the screen you are using as your prime view and no need to keep zooming in and out or changing input methodology between th two. Maybe a chance of this in the future but probably not anytime soon.

    1. Derrie Curry wrote: “Study CISC vs RISC and you’ll understand.” Sorry, DC, but you will have to provide a little more detail than that to back up your assertion.

      Both CISC and RISC processors have been used in personal computers over the years. Because of Windows/Intel PCs, CISC has actually been dominant even though RISC was used in most high-performance computers. In the mid-1990s, Apple switched to PowerPC processors (RISC) from the AIM alliance and began touting the virtues of its supercomputer Macs over Intel-based PCs. But the development of the PPC processor family lagged and, ten years later, Apple switched its Macs to…you got it, Intel (CISC) processors. That had the benefit of making Macs natively compatible with Windows via BootCamp. However, Apple owned a significant piece of ARM in the late 1990s and based its iOS handheld computers on the ARM processor architecture (RISC) starting in 2007 with the iPhone.

      Both CISC and RISC are viable. CISC processors appear to have survived primarily because Intel processors have been used in Wintel PCs for decades. But Intel has struggled quite a bit over the last decade or so, especially in the area of low power mobile processors. Meanwhile, Apple’s ARM-based A-series System on Chip (SoC) designs have radpily evolved and are encroaching on Intel’s territory with the A11 and, now, A12.

      So, I ask you again, DC…what is your argument against RISC? What is the simple argument that clarifies why A-series Macs are “…not going to happen.” Please enlighten us.

  2. All they are going to do is make Cocoa and IOKit more similar; to the point where the GUI and function call are the same. That way you can just recompile the code for the target platform. the libraries will take care of the rest. Problem is a CPU heavy Mac App could really stop an iPad in its tracks. Imagine full blown Blender on an iPad.

  3. Two thoughts here:
    1. I’m struggling to think of many iOS apps that I would want on my Mac. In most cases, there’s a Mac alternative that is more feature rich. However, I can see how this would encourage iOS developers to write deeper apps knowing they could cross that divide.
    2. With the Apple Pencil and iPad, I wonder why Apple hasn’t built in support to utilize the iPad as a drawing surface for the Mac, much like the Wacom Cintiq does. In speaking with pros, the only reason they are staying with Cintiq is it interfaces with the Mac apps you already have by simply being an external display with drawing surface. To use the iPad you are limited to an iOS specific app rather than industry standards like Photoshop and Illustrator.

  4. “Does it make more sense to be smearing your fingers around on your notebook’s screen or on a spacious trackpad that’s designed specifically and solely to be touched? Apple thinks things through more than other companies… The iPhone’s screen has to be touched; that’s all it has available. A MacBook’s screen does not have to be touched in order to offer Multi-Touch™. There is a better way: Apple’s way. — MacDailyNews, March 26, 2009”

    O come on MDN..didn’t you read any of the articles that point out the obvious? Federighi’s statement (which you’re backing here) completely invalidates the iPad Pro. He unwittingly revealed that Apple’s “strategy” is completely bogus BS – claim on the one hand that no one should have to “poke” a screen on a device with a keyboard, then on the other hand force them to do exactly that on a device you tout as an ultimate pro device & laptop replacement. What a joke.

  5. Isn’t it time to put an iPhone X in a MacPro touchpad (or at least a screen)? That way you “combine” both operating systems in a way that would be useful. You run Mac OS apps on the big screen and use the newly altered touchpad to navigate to specific areas on the screen by touching their mirrors on the touchpad.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.