Apple Plans to Let Developers Release Universal Apps That Work Across iPhone, iPad, and Mac by 2021, SDK Coming This June

Apple aims to allow developers to release universal apps that work across iPhone, iPad, and Mac by 2021, according to a new report today by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

The ultimate goal of the multistep initiative, code-named "Marzipan," is by 2021 to help developers build an app once and have it work on the ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌ and Mac computers, said people familiar with the effort. That should spur the creation of new software, increasing the utility of the company’s gadgets.

According to Gurman, Apple plans to let developers port ‌iPad‌ apps to Mac using a new software development kit that the company will release as early as June at WWDC. Apple previewed the apps plan, without disclosing the road map, at its developers conference last year.

Apple typically previews the next major versions of its iOS and macOS operating systems at WWDC in June, with beta versions of each platform available to developers and public testers until September, so it stands to reason that an SDK for universal apps should begin rolling out in the pre-release software.

Developers will still need to submit separate versions of the app to Apple's iOS and Mac App Stores, but the new kit will mean they don't have to write the underlying software code twice, said the people familiar with the plan. In 2020, Apple plans to expand the kit so ‌iPhone‌ applications can be converted into Mac apps in the same way.

The "Marzipan" project is considered to be one of the biggest changes on Apple's roadmap, although Apple's plans are said to be "fluid" and could be altered, according to Gurman's sources.

When the idea of universal apps was first rumored in 2017, early speculation suggested that they were a harbinger of Apple's plans to create a unified operating system for all of its devices, but those rumors appear to have been unfounded. Apple has already said it won't combine iOS and macOS into a single operating system.

The work on universal apps aligns with Apple's preparations to start transitioning some Macs to its own chips as early as 2020. Apple's initiative, reportedly code named "Kalamata," is part of an effort to make Macs, iPhones, and iPads work more similarly and seamlessly together. Apple Macs currently use Intel chips but Apple already designs its own A-series chips found in iPhones and iPads.

Apple is planning to hold its annual software conference from June 3 to June 7 in San Jose, California, based on permit filings uncovered by MacRumors.

Related Roundup: WWDC 2020

Top Rated Comments

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15 months ago
The end of the Mac as a platform for good UI then.

The Marzipan apps included with Mojave are flat out terrible.

Apple's arguments against a touchscreen Mac look pretty thin in light of this.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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15 months ago
Let's hope they sort out the **** UI and UX in their current universal apps. We're halfway through Mojave and they haven't improved at all.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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15 months ago
This should give us terrible Mac apps. Marzipan should be gaming only?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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15 months ago
The day macOS finally succumbs to their closed loop, I’m out. All I ever saw the Mac App Store as was them testing the waters to see if they could get away with it. I honestly still refuse to use it.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
15 months ago

It would be trivial to put an iOS and Intel chip in the same device so each can run native apps.

Putting two chips in the same device, running at the same time, that wouldn't be just non-trivial, that would be a major challenge. It would also be totally unnecessary. You can compile iOS apps for macOS right now, which most iOS developers do for testing purposes.
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Scary.

The attempt to merge iOS and macOS is tempting for simple and lazy brains.
So far, programmers and technicians have successfully resisted it.
Is APPLE marketing, with its windy and naive ideas, trolling in marzipanland again?

Intelligent investors come to horror...

You are completely off to the wrong direction here. This isn't about "simple and lazy brains". This is about making gazillions of apps available to macOS users at minimal cost for developers. Because if it isn't minimum cost, then a company has to justify paying a full-time macOS developer to port an application, and that is a huge cost that you need to justify. If this technology works, my company might need to invest a month of my time to get a version of their code for macOS (which would be a lot cheaper than creating a Windows or Linux version), and it may happen.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
15 months ago

The day macOS finally succumbs to their closed loop, I’m out. All I ever saw the Mac App Store as was them testing the waters to see if they could get away with it. I honestly still refuse to use it.

According to people like you, the macOS "is succumbing" since at least 2010 and there is still no "closed loop" in sight.


The attempt to merge iOS and macOS is tempting for simple and lazy brains.
So far, GUI programmers and hardware experts have successfully resisted it.

As a programmer, I welcome a unified responsive UI framework with a wide embrace. Nobody is talking about merging iOS and macOS. It's about having consistent tools to work with. The underlaying tech below the iOS and macOS UI is already the same and has been so for years. The different frontend framework however don't make much sense and are confusing.

If you want an example where it works great, look at Web. For some reason they can use same tech to make both mobile and desktop sites and do it great. That is what responsive design is all about. Right now, most of the code is reused between iOS and macOS apps anyway, but idiosyncratic differences between the UI frameworks make developing them more difficult than it has to be.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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