Apple wants to unite all three of its major platforms within the next two years by combining apps made for its phones, tablets, and computers. According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple’s multi-step initiative (called “Marzipan”) will give developers the ability to build a single app and have it work seamlessly across the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Bloomberg first reported on this in 2017, with Apple confirming the initiative at WWDC 2018 last year.
Sources say that Apple will release a software development kit this year — possibly as early as WWDC 2019 in June — that will let developers port their iPad apps to macOS. Separate versions of the app will still need to be submitted for the iOS App Store and Mac App Store, but the developers won’t have to write the code twice.
That will be the first major step in the process, but in 2020, the SDK will be expanded to include iPhone apps as well. Bloomberg claims that Apple engineers have found the iPhone to be more difficult to work with as the iPhone’s screen is significantly smaller (and the apps are often released in portrait formats).
If all goes according to plan, then developers will be able to merge iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps into what Apple calls a “single binary” by 2021. Once this functionality rolls out, only one version of an app will need to be submitted (and coded), and iOS apps will be readily available from the Mac App Store.
As always, these plans could change, and setbacks could occur, but this would be a major boon for Apple, which has put an increasing amount of stock in its services division in recent years. By uniting the platforms, the likes of Netflix and Twitter could simply open up their mobile apps to macOS users without having to build an entirely new app for Mac computers. It’s worth noting that there are still no plans to combine iOS and macOS into one platform.
Apple didn’t offer many details about Marzipan last year, but we expect to hear more at this year’s WWDC. A recent report from MacRumors pegged the dates for WWDC 2019 as June 3rd – June 7th.