Microsoft and Google have been working in this direction for years. Microsoft has been pushing developers to create Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps that could run seamlessly across devices with different form factors. Google has brought its Android app store to laptops running Chrome OS operating system. Apple doesn’t want to be left behind. The Cupertino company is working to unify the iOS and Mac apps by 2021, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Why does Apple want to combine the iOS and Mac apps?
It doesn’t mean the Cupertino company is going to kill the Mac. Instead, its ‘Marzipan‘ initiative focuses on making it easier for developers to create a single app that works seamlessly on the iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Last year, the tech giant released UIKit tools to let developers easily bring their iOS apps to Macs.
The move could help boost revenue, and users could get access to more Mac apps than ever before. Sources told Bloomberg that Apple would release a new software development kit at the WWDC event in June this year that will allow developers to port their iPad apps to Macs. Developers will still have to submit different versions of the app to the iOS App Store and Mac App Store, but the underlying code would be the same.
The tech giant will further expand the software development kit (SDK) in 2020 to let developers port their iPhone apps to Macs. Finally in 2021, developers will be able to create a single app that works across the iPhones, iPads, and Macs. They will not have to submit their apps separately to different App Stores. The plans could still change, warned the publication.
Though it could unify the iOS and Mac apps, Apple has made it clear that it would not merge the two platforms into a single operating system. We will get to know more about it at the annual WWDC event that will reportedly be held in the first half of June in San Jose, California. At WWDC, Apple will announce the iOS 13 software with exciting new features like a system-wide Dark Mode, a revamped Files app, and many iPad-specific enhancements.
By 2021 we’ll be running ARM Macs with iOS apps. The next ten years of the Mac are going to be veeeery different to the last ten
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) February 21, 2019
Apple has already brought many iOS apps such as Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos to macOS. When the transition completes in 2021, we will see a significant jump in the number of Mac apps available. It will also change the user experience on each device. Optimizing the interface and testing apps on various devices will be a major challenge for developers, but it’s better than having to create different apps for different platforms.
Macs to start switching to ARM-based chips next year
It all makes sense given Apple’s plan to ditch Intel chips and move to ARM-based A-series processors in Macs. The latest iPad Pros running Apple’s custom A12X processor are more powerful than most laptops and desktops in the market. Using its own chips allows Apple to tightly integrate the software and hardware on its devices to deliver maximum performance.
A new report from Axios claims Apple could move to ARM-based chips for Macs as early as next year. Currently, the iPhones and iPads run Apple’s in-house processors while Macs are powered by Intel CPUs. Bloomberg has also said that Apple could transition “some Macs to its own chips as early as 2020.”
Intel executives privately told Axios that they expect MacBooks to start switching to ARM-based chips in 2020. The move to ARM-based chips is part of Apple’s plan to make the iPhones, iPads, and Macs run the same apps. It also means that Apple will no longer be tied to Intel’s processor upgrade cycles.
Apple is one of the largest customers of Intel, accounting for about 5% of the chipmaker’s revenue. So, Apple’s plan to switch to ARM-based chips for Macs could hurt Intel’s revenues. The Cupertino company has already started putting its own chips in Macs. The latest MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and iMac Pro come with Apple’s custom T2 security chip that powers the Touch Bar and Touch ID features in latest Macs.