Catalyst reveals Apple’s struggle with the Mac’s future

Jason Snell for Macworld:

This is not to say that there won’t be great examples of Catalyst apps, exemplars for other developers to follow. I’m optimistic that some of the developers of iOS apps I use a lot will go the extra mile to make sure that their apps are good Mac apps when they appear on the platform. I was encouraged by a Twitter thread from the developer of Ferrite Recording Studio, one of my favorite iOS apps. In the thread, he says he is committed to making a “Proper Mac App” and that it will take time to do so. While listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast and Under the Radar podcasts, it’s clear that Overcast developer Marco Arment is similarly not willing to dump a lousy version of his app on the platform.

iOS app developers are Mac users — it’s the only platform available for iOS app development. They know what the Mac feels like. I think many of them will choose to do the right thing — but it’s a shame they won’t have exemplary Apple apps to inspire them… Apple’s own apps — not just the ones made using Catalyst — are trying all sorts of different interface approaches in somewhat inconsistent ways.

As the platform owner, Apple does get to drive that process and make those calls. Unfortunately, right now it doesn’t seem to know what it wants. In the meantime, it will be up to third-party app developers to do the best they can to make great Mac apps—and to not blame their tools if they fall short of that standard.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, this will be messy. It’s a period of intense experimentation and that’s way more exciting than waiting over half a decade for a new Mac Pro (we’re actually still waiting, by the way).

We’ll take messy envelope-pushing experimentation over vexing stagnation every day of the week! 🙂


  1. I don’t care that much about iOS, have an iPhone and an iPad, use the phone dozens of times a day for simple functions,but when a developer tries to do too much on a small screen with a touch interface, what you get is a mess that requires a lot of memorization of the workflow of the app. In those dozens of interactions a day, they only occur in a few well designed apps where the developer understands the limitations of the touch interface combined with a small screen. There are not many of those.

    And the touch interface even on the larger iPad screen doesnt lend itself to working with the apps that i work with every day, far too many multistep interations that just cant be managed on the touch interface without haveing dozens or even hundreds of icons on one screen , or maybe subsscreens, Forget that, not going to happen for me. The iPad only gets used maybe once a month.

    The Mac, still my number one device by far. But not because of Apple apps, maybe the new versions of Pages, Keynote, Numbers will bring back some functionality that was removed by the rank stupidity of “minimalism”

    My needs are fulfilled on the Mac by a couple of dozen 3rd party specializec apps that I use for graphics, images, web development and HTML5 animation, Apple has nothing for that.

    So really, those Mac apps are what keep me in the Apple universe. No I would not go Android, they really are not even close.

    So in theory, as far as computers are concerned, 3rd party apps are what keep me on Apple, and they actually are the best because they run 3rd party apps well!!

    I work on Windows 10 some every day in the school system and it is a no drama, no big problems operating system. Not nearly as functional as OSX, but as I said, no drama either.

    Would my 3rd party developers write for Windows if they had to, yes, but they don’t want to and especially in HTML5 animation, OSX has functions that would require a lot of extra development for Windows. This is what they tell me. But they will if they have to.

    So: Apple, be a little more careful about leaving the 3rd party developers behind when you get into the “change for the sake of change” mode just because its hip and cool. I think the temptation is there for you.

  2. This is what worries me, Apple has built a very clever little world that favors the small screen. The smaller the screen the better. Their primary computing platform is the iPhone. The bigger the screen, the more powerful the computer, the fewer people who use it. Just the exact opposite of every other computer maker out there.

    I look at the music, video, news, and other Catalyst apps that came with Catalina (Catalyst and Catalina… ain’t Apple cute?) and they are flat, unimaginative dull little things that are certainly not selling points for the Mac. They’re all D+, C level work. Slightly prettier versions of the DOS painted screens we used to get before Windows.

    Nothing to inspire or recruit other developers at all.

    We live in a world where people put screens that can handle 4K or more on their desks and Apple is building apps that only use a fraction of that, except maybe FCPro.

    There is no incentive to develop from the top down. All incentive is to develop from the bottom up.

    And this is why I see the famed Apple ecosphere rapidly becoming the Apple Ghetto.

    The world of all Apple apps is like Apple games. They exist, but Meh.

    Apple has blocked entry for way too long. Instead of iOS Apps, Apple should have been making technology transfer from Windows to Mac easy.

  3. “Apple should have been making technology transfer from Windows to Mac easy.”

    Migarating an app developed for an archaic structure to a modern structure would be an incredibly complex/difficult task.

    1. Uh, no. Not so much anymore. That’s the “Apple Ghetto Think” talking. Windows 10 is NOT Windows XP, and I defy you to find a Mac feature that doesn’t exist in Windows 10. It’s faster, more secure, actually fun to use, and capable of supporting an extremely wide range of hardware providing users with something Mac users are only superficially aware of, and that’s choice.

      I love the Mac just like everyone else, and I’m looking forward to doing a bunch of machine learning work on a shiny new Pro later this year, but I grew out of Mac myopia a while back.

      By making it easier for Windows developers to bring their apps to Mac, Apple could open the the Mac to the dizzying array of advanced technology that first appears on Windows and never quite makes it to the Mac. Mainstream games would appear. Nonsense refusal to work with nVidia could be dealt with. And even business apps that should be on the Mac but are not could be brought over.

      The iPad is a splendid computer that already handles iOS apps just fine. It’s all most people need. The Mac doesn’t need to compete with the iPad. It should be something bigger. Something more. Something that makes developers say “That’s where I want to be.”

      1. Since 2013 my employer switched from all Mac to W7 and now W10. No problem with Windows 10, works great. Worked at all Mac employers since the late 1980s.

        Disclaimer: At home, my freelance LLC business is all Mac and Apple everything else.

        I know the Apple fanboys are too sensitive to hearing an alternative reality. But the bottom line is I am finding it harder and harder to defend the Apple OS as superior to Windows as time marches on. Then again, I am not a software developer, just a Pro user.

        The superior Apple industrial design certainly RULES over the bland ugly copycat PC boxes. But design awards do not save this user thousands of dollars for comparable products.

        Bang for the computing buck is paramount and I no longer care where it comes from.


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