SwiftUI and Catalyst: Apple executes its invisible transition strategy

Jason Snell for Macworld:

Catalyst, which arrives this fall, will allow developers who are well-versed in the vagaries of writing iOS apps to use those skills to write Mac apps. This will most commonly take the form of bringing iPad apps to the Mac, with additions to make them feel more like native Mac apps, but it’s more than that — it provides iOS developers with a familiar set of tools and access to an entirely new platform, and it makes the target for professional apps across Apple’s platforms broader by including both the iPad and the Mac.

iOS apps are currently built to run on devices running Apple-designed ARM processors, and if the rumors are true, that’s another transition waiting to happen. But given that all Mac and iOS developers are already using Apple’s Xcode tools to develop their apps, I suspect that the pieces have been put in place for a fairly simple transition to a new processor architecture…

Transitional technologies are all a part of the long game. Catalyst will bring those apps to the Mac. iOS and Mac developers will pick up Swift and SwiftUI. Mac apps can integrate iOS stuff via Catalyst. iOS apps can integrate Mac stuff for use on the Mac. And all developers can begin experimenting with SwiftUI, building new interfaces and replacing old ones in a gradual process.

And then we’ll turn around sometime in the 2020s and realize that all of this talk of UIKit and AppKit and Catalyst is behind us, and that our apps are written in Swift with interfaces created using SwiftUI.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s a paradigm shift happening in slow motion!

SwiftUI will bring more and more developers from “other” platforms to Swift, delivering more native apps for our Apple devices! It’ll take some time, but it really is a big game-changer. — MacDailyNews, June 7, 2019


  1. A paradigm shift indeed. the iPad is emerging as computing for the masses. The iPad will handle 95% of what most people need a computer for, and probably more due to advancements in cloud services similar to the streaming game systems that are beginning to emerge. Your iPad has a certain amount of power on its own, growing due to ARM, but infinitely expandable due to 5G, cloud services including storage, apps, etc. Entire vertical products suites will run in the cloud. This paradigm will eventually consume the purpose of the Mac as well.

    As developers create for iOS and then port to the Mac, expect to see iPad step ahead as the primary Apple computing platform. The Mac will, as we all have expected, just kind of wither. First the MacBook and MacBook Air will vanish.

    Think MacBook Pro for Professional mobile computing. iMac/IMac Pro for people who want or need higher performance Mac computing, and MacPro for the aliens who desire Apple’s highest performance.

    This category will diminish as the iPad becomes more powerful.

    Catalyst ain’t named catalyst for nothing. It’s triggering the change.

    I have no doubt all of Apple’s work will be brilliant, particularly for people who want to live in the Apple Ecosystem and don’t care about anything else.

    The danger is that ecosystem is becoming more of a ghetto, and the iPad will become pretty much just a glorified web client.

  2. But… but… CISC and RISC and Intel API’s!!! You can’t write code once and have it compile to two different target CPUs!! It’ll never happen!
    —-some folks ‘round these parts awhile back

    1. Yes I am no expert in such complex matters but through my reading I have long thought those naysayers as much as they argued often with a certain logic were looking at it through a rapidly archaic looking tech window. A very restricted view it seems now as the fog clears. We should know a lot more just how much it clears in a year or two.

    2. I can’t speak for others, but I never said that it could never be done, only that it would require much faster A-series processors than were available at the time or were likely to be for several years. It has now been several years and the speed is almost there. No contradiction.

      The ability to emulate Intel during the transition is essential because it could take years for many user’s essential apps to be recompiled with A-series code. If emulation is too slow, the howls to fire whoever happens to be Apple CEO would be deafening.

      1. “The ability to emulate Intel during the transition is essential”
        If a user has essential apps that don’t run on a-series processors, then I doubt they’d be buying a new a-series computer. As a result, that a-series computer would not have to emulate any Intel code. When you consider that the entire line has been refreshed with recent processors, getting stuck forever with the speed of today’s iMacs wouldn’t be horrible.

        What Apple’s doing with the App Store means the developer compiles and uploads and the customer will not receive a fat binary, they’ll receive ONLY the components they need for their system, whether it’s ARM or Intel. For Apps outside the App Store (or no longer in the store), I believe this transition will be harder.

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