For Apple, the future might be cross-platform. The Cupertino tech firm reportedly will combine iOS and macOS apps next year by allowing developers to create a single app that works on both platforms at the same time. This means they don't have to create an app for each one.
Apple To Launch Cross-Platform iOS, macOS Apps
Bloomberg reports that Apple has plans to encourage developers to create apps that adapt and adjust to the platform they're running on. Essentially, this sounds as if Apple wants to create universal apps that accept different input methods — be it a trackpad, a touchscreen, or a mouse.
If true, this could address the tremendous lack of decent apps on the Mac App Store, which, as Bloomberg describes, is a "ghost town." Having apps that work on any Apple platform will give users plenty of options to choose from, whichever device they're using.
Currently, developers are required to design two different apps — one for iOS and one for macOS. As a result, developers have a tendency to focus on only one platform most of the time, leaving the other largely unexplored or untouched for longer periods. For instance, users have complained that the Twitter for iOS app gets updated regularly, while the one for macOS does not.
Universal Windows Platform
Apple isn't the first to explore this idea, keep in mind. For years, Microsoft has been toying with Universal Windows Platform apps, which run on compatible Windows devices, including the Xbox One, but it would still be a big deal for those entrenched in Apple's mobile and desktop ecosystems. While the macOS app does have a handful of good apps, iOS obviously features a wider array of options. By letting developers code apps meant to run on both platforms, Apple can potentially make it easier to push out updates for both at the same time.
How will all this work? More importantly, how will developers approach universality? Will they have access to a specialized developer kit that will let them easily translate iOS apps to macOS? Or will they have to learn a new coding language altogether? Such things remain uncertain. The only sure thing is that the more similar apps are to each other, the easier it will be for developers.
Don't expect all apps to get a macOS counterpart, of course, because even for apps that have iOS and macOS versions, developers still have the tendency to favor one over the other. Taking a universality approach slightly addresses this bias, of course, but some might not even bother creating a macOS version of their app if it proves too difficult to accomplish.