Apple’s computers run macOS, while the company’s smartphones and tablets run iOS. But soon you may be able to run the same versions of some apps on a Mac, iPad, or iPhone.

Last year Apple announced it was undertaking a multi-year project that would allow you to run iOS apps on a Mac. Now Bloomberg has published an article with a tentative roadmap.

This summer Apple could release an SDK that would make it easy for developer to port iPad apps to run on macOS. Next year the company would allow developers to do the same with iPhone apps. And by 2021, developers may not have to port anything at all — they could just create a single app that would run across all three platforms.

That timeline isn’t set in stone, so things could change. Then again, it also hasn’t officially be confirmed by Apple, so it could be wrong altogether.

But there could be big upshots for both developers and end users.

Developers would be able to create a single app and make it available for phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers without the need to develop custom versions for different platforms. And that could provide incentive for iOS developers to offer apps for Mac, increasing the amount of software available for both operating systems.

For users, it could open the door to pay-once/use-everywhere functionality… assuming Apple links purchases made in the Mac and iOS App Stores.

Apple would hardly be the first company to chase a universal app platform. Microsoft gave it a try… but since the company has killed off Windows Phone, the “Universal Windows Platform” really means desktop, laptop, and tablet at this point (and Xbox One, to a limited degree).

Google, meanwhile, has been blurring the lines between Android and Chrome OS in recent years by adding support for the Google Play Store and Android apps to Chromebooks.

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10 replies on “Bloomberg: The lines between iOS and Mac apps to start blurring this summer”

  1. It isn’t just the apps that will be cross-compatible across Apple’s devices – I expect that the hardware will be commoditized. Their laptops will look more like iPads with keyboards. Reduced number of ports, kiosk-like hardware (and service contracts), dongles, sensors that are primarily mobile-based may find their way to laptops.

    I can only imagine the increased privacy issues since Apple takes little to no responsibility for what “app” developers do on devices. Sandboxes and increased hardware requirements in order to run mobile apps and help keep the iOS ecosystem thriving (along with their push toward subscriptions).

    Apple users will have to buy the later versions of hardware to take full advantage of this compatibility – which falls in line with their business model (planned obsolescence). Note to self: check this comment in 2021 (“by 2021, developers may not have to port anything at all”) because I’m curious if Apple plans to make macOS touch-friendly by then.

    1. Any less ports and you’ll have to use wireless charging and telepathy to interact with their laptops

    2. “Apple users will have to buy the later versions of hardware to take full advantage of this compatibility – which falls in line with their business model (planned obsolescence).”

      When a new iPhone comes out, it gets 6 years of iOS support. When a new Google Pixel or Android One device comes out (these devices altogether amount for a tiny share of the Android market), they get 3 years of software updates.

      The cheap iPad which come out in March and receives the last generation Apple chip gets 4.5 years of iOS updates.

      I realize its just much more fashionable to bash Apple for planned obsolescence than the players in the Android world. I’m sorry but this just gets a little boring to me by now:

      “…we also make sure to design and build durable products, that last as long as possible. That means long lasting hardware, coupled with amazing software. All of these devices, including the iPhone 5S, run iOS 12, and iOS 12 is designed to make your iPhone and iPad experience even better, even more responsive, faster… just better! And because they last longer, you can keep using them. And keeping using them is the best thing for the planet.”


      I don’t have a stake in any of the two ecosystems, both have their pros and cons, I just suggest t let’s be factual with the facts and give credit where credit’s due! )

      1. I don’t have a stake in any of the two ecosystems either, buth I think both have their ways for planned obsolescence, like reducing performance with updates!!!

        1. Do you want more features or not? Do you expect new features not to use CPU cycles? I haven’t seen much performance degradation when it comes to iPhones or top end Android phones (Pixel, Galaxy S) only at the lower end – you get what you pay for.,

    3. Update: so the initial reports are in. Mac’s are expected to be transitioning to ARM (2020). Like I said earlier: All this to keep the iOS ecosystem thriving: Ad Frameworks, Subscription Services (the new hotness). Expect kiosk-like laptops from Apple now because part of their (extremely user-hostile) business plan is service contracts and accessories (dongles).

      New laptop sales will help Apple force users to upgrade (planned obsolescence – it comes in many forms). Those that depend on macOS will eventually be forced to embrace a cloud-centric OS tied to the mothership and a gazillion 3rd-parties (via apps).

      I still don’t see Desktop macOS becoming touch-friendly. I do see, however, macOS being further eroded until it becomes a front-end to iOS (what many people expected and what many macOS users feared). When the erosion is complete – it’ll just be iOS that remains.

      Any Apple users defending the company based on laughable PR reports when their actions speak volumes will be in for a shock. You are NOT the market. You haven’t been the market in years. Apple has abandoned the oldtimers reliant on a true Desktop OS. They are pulling in the new generation of iOS users (who outnumber you by many factors and pull in the big bucks) into the Laptop fold by blending devices until macOS is no more.

      This is to insure their real customers (stock-holders) are happy with forecasts, actual ROI. This will also insure that (data-slurping, ad-focused and subscription pushing) developers can transition to this new pseudo-macOS as a money-making device.

      On a positive note: There’s always Linux. It’s the one true viable solution that remains. I jumped ship from Windows a few years ago. Waiting to jump ship from Android too. The tech industry is completely Out. Of. Control. Don’t kill the messenger:-)

  2. I was hoping they would have macbook with their own CPU. I guess that is not happening before 2021.

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