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Apple is working on a new project that will enable apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to run seamlessly on macOS computers, effectively giving users a “single set of apps” designed to work, sync content, and be equally accessible across their entire range of iOS and macOS devices, Bloomberg reports.
Beginning as early as next year, iOS and macOS developers will be given the option to design a single application that functions using “either a touchscreen, or mouse and trackpad,” according to sources familiar with the project who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Codenamed Project “Marzipan” internally, Bloomberg’s sources said Apple’s plans are in fact part of the company’s “multiyear effort” which will completely revolutionize the iOS and macOS user experience. They added that while nothing’s set in stone, and Apple’s plans could change at any time, we could potentially see the first of these major changes announced at the company’s annual software developer conference, WWDC, in 2018.
“This would be the biggest change to Apple’s software platform since iOS was introduced,” said Apple software developer, Steve Troughton-Smith, while adding that by unifying iOS and macOS, Apple will ultimately help both software platforms “evolve and grow as one, and not one at the expense of the other.”
Currently, app developers like Troughton-Smith who design apps for both iOS and macOS are required to design two separate applications — one for mobile and one for desktop — which, as any dev will assure you, can be both time consuming and unfruitful.
And that’s because Apple’s Mac App Store simply hasn’t caught on with users like its considerably more accessible iOS App Store. The former, for example, has struggled due to its limited selection of titles — some of which have not received updates in months or years.
By creating a single app to work seamlessly across all devices, Mac, iPhone, and iPad users not only stand to receive more routine software updates, but, let’s be honest — the sheer scope of what features and creative possibilities iOS apps will bring to macOS is rather exciting to entertain, isn’t it?
It’s not clear whether Apple’s Mac and iOS App Stores will be merged into one as a result of these changes; however, in what could be a tell tale sign of what’s to come, Apple did a top-to-bottom refresh of its iOS App Store earlier this year — while its Mac App Store hasn’t received attention since 2014.
It’s also worth pointing out that while the idea of iOS apps running on Mac sounds novel, Apple wouldn’t be the first company to try merging mobile and desktop in this way. Microsoft, prior to killing off its Windows Phone OS earlier this year, had been peddling a technology dubbed Universal Windows Platform — which allowed its devs to create apps that run on Windows Phones, Tablets, and PCs. Similarly, Google took a stab at merging mobile and desktop when it brought its Google Play App Store to some Chrome OS powered laptops.
In his assessment, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman asserted that Apple’s ultimate goal is to slowly but surely make the “underpinnings of its hardware and software more similar,” noting as an example how the company began developing its own A-series chips for iPhone and iPad years ago — and how, just recently, a variant of those powerful chips debuted in its beastly iMac Pro.
“Much the way Apple plans to unify apps, it could also one day use the same main processor on Macs and iOS devices,” Gurman portends, which would obviously make matters much easier for Apple and its customers. Unfortunately, the likelihood of that merger ever happening in slim to none. As recently as 2012, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has voiced his stern opposition to the idea of merging macOS and iOS, likening the idea in a 2012 interview to merging a toaster with a refrigerator.
“But those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user,” Cook said.