Don't expect Apple to merge iOS and Mac apps this year

Back in December, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported on the existence of Marzipan, said to be an internal project at Apple that would allow for single apps to be designed for both Mac and iOS user interfaces. In January, Gurman followed up to note that the project was on track for inclusion in this year's iOS 12 and macOS 10.14. But according to longtime Apple watcher John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, the initative is unlikely to surface this year — and may be less ambitious than previously assumed.

From his sources, Gruber says the project is no longer codenamed Marzipan and “sounds like a declarative control API,” which doesn't necessarily relate to cross-platform development but would theoretically allow apps to be built for multiple user interfaces at once. This alone, however, wouldn't really be something to help developers port existing iPad apps to the Mac, for example, since apps would still have to be coded for each platform.

Gruber:

It makes sense that if Apple believes that (a) iOS and MacOS should have declarative control APIs, and (b) they should address the problem of abstracting the API differences between UIKit (iOS) and AppKit (MacOS), they would tackle them at the same time. Or perhaps the logic is simply that if they’re going to create a cross-platform UI framework, the basis for that framework should be a declarative user interface.

Whatever Marzipan ends up being and being named, Gruber says he's “nearly certain” that it won't appear at WWDC next month, and doubts it was likely to have been a 2018 project at the time of Gurman's initial report. WWDC 2018 starts on June 4th, so we won't have too long to find out.

Comments

Wait. Did someone ask for an unified platform?

No one asked for iPhones in 2006 either

I wouldn’t go that far.

Devs did, yes.
Development is expensive for multiple platforms. This is a contributing factor for so many popular apps with a large-enough user-base using the subscription model.

You mean Dev companies?
Devs don’t usually like major overhauls, which this would certainly be.

Hobby/freelance dev here, mostly Android and web. 100 % agree.

Web always changes slowly but surely. Easy and the way to go. Always tons of maintained libraries to make things work in all browsers if some feature is not implemented in all yet, although of course I keep the amount of third party libraries to the minimum and use native code as long as possible if not waaay to time consuming.

Some major Android versions can suddenly require a lot of work (iOS as well, probably more, just a guess), like Android API 21 and 26, that is Android 5+ and Android 8+, for them to look (Material Design, guidelines were great but a lot lacked in the API to do it for like a year, so for even a floating action button most used an easy to use and small third party library for a long time) and work as according to guidelines for the latest devices, like several things can stop working on Android 8+ devices and can require pretty much recoding depending on how much your app uses services and notifications for instance, as there are many changes there (backwards compatibility is generally great, most work back to Android 4.0.3 without problems, just some code needs to check if running older than x, then do this instead), and is very time consuming for one person, but manageable, but there’s a limit. If your userbase is basically like 2 % using Android 4.3 or older, or even better, 4.4 or older, you can drop support for these and save some time and only support 5+ and no need for AppCompat, different resources for buttons (like ripple effect) etc.

A complete new framework/API/language can be a nightmare if not backwards compatibility and easy transition (like with Android now you can use slowly change parts of the code from Java to Kotlin).

Of course for a company a major overhaul can be great, as they have big teams with professional developers, sometimes with dev support from Apple/Google etc directly, that can easily make plans and divide work between people, share what they’ve learned reading docs, code examples etc that works, while we must read up on all and find working examples on StackExchange (luckily Google at least have devs that post examples some times, and on their blogs) and such when the documentation is not up to par yet (often it’s behind, with old examples that doesn’t work etc, because writing new features is always more fun than writing documentation).

Sorry I meant API 21 (5, first with Material Design), API 23 (first with Permissions API) , API 24/25 (required to take Doze seriously, JobScheduler instead of AlarmManager or such) and API 26 (background services, including the tiniest like for updating widgets, notifications like channels, new features etc), and always try to make use of good new features.

You don’t ask Apple for anything. Apple tells you what you want!

Yes, you open your mouth, waiting in hopeful anticipation and willingly swallow whatever Apple deposits.

Just like popcorn!

Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

I don’t know why people keep thinking that having the same UI across different platforms is a good idea. This was already tried in the past on multiple occasions and nothing good has come out of it.

This may let you save on development cost in the short run, but otherwise I see no benefit in such an approach.

Being able to develop apps for iOS and macOS at the same time doesn’t mean they have to have the same UI and the article certainly doesn’t say that either.

Yet this is exactly what people would come to expect from Apple with rumors like this floating around. One only need a look at comment section in the previously linked article to see my point.

So you make a criticism based on an assumption that is unquestionably false, and your only defense is "well lots of other people could make that dumb assumption too"? Really?

Look, I didn’t make any assumptions. I simply commented on speculations about merging iOS and Mac apps and how this idea doesn’t make much sense to me. You’re the one who can’t read the fine print here.

The Verge has been clearly hinting towards something akin to UWP for a while now which was an all around failure as no one develops apps for it (at least not in a meaningful kind of way).

It doesn’t make sense to you because you are reading it incorrectly, which has already been explained to you. It’s NOT the same UI across multiple platforms, which is the dumb and untrue assumption you keep repeating. How are you not getting this? You originally said:

I don’t know why people keep thinking that having the same UI across different platforms is a good idea.

People these days really don’t seem to understand what a RUMOR is. It’s not a FACT! Until Apple says anything, whatever gets thrown out there is a RUMOR.

I find it funny how people get mad at Apple all the time based on RUMORS. Apple is doing this, they suck. What, Apple is not doing that, They suck. Apple changed things, they suck. All based on one RUMOR after another RUMOR. I just don’t get it.

I can think of one cross-platform initiative which has been fairly successful : the world wide web.

I’d say it has become quite good at responding to a large array of different screen sizes and input types with a single code base and style sheet.

That’s actually factually somewhat innacurate. There are not that many platforms that have most of the same functionality on different screens. My mobile isps has a huge amount of stuff missing from its site when viewed on mobile, including the help section. There are a fair amount of sites that still use a wap stile mobile site. And quite a few that lack a mobile version alltoghether. Stuff like amp sometimes breaks experiences. And this is a venerable platform, not like app development wher a good deal of the devs cobble together apps that barely work sometimes.

Have you ever resized your web browser? A UI can adapt.

I see you point, but how many of these sites beside news outlets have decent UX on mobile screens?

I have been working in web development for nearly 4 years now and I don’t see responsive web view to be a go-to way to consume content on mobile any time soon.

One reason I have a iPad over the Surface tablet, even though I have a Windows 10 Desktop and a long time Windows user since Windows 95, and have never owned a Mac.

I’m not a fan of the Surface. It’s something trying to be everything to everyone and I personally think it fails at that. I also just want my tablet to work. I don’t want to deal with Firewalls, Anti-Virus software. Malware and Spyware. Then Upgrading all that crap all the time. Then the yearly or so Complete Windows Wipe and start over and things are all screwed up.

The hours of my life WASTED fixing Windows issues over the years, including on Windows 10. Such as the Start menu disappearing. Configuration settings grayed out when they shouldn’t be, etc. I can go on and on. Then you have Interface issues. Apps designed for a Keyboard and mouse and those designed for a Touch Interface. The App Interface designed for one or the other, as both, it generally SUCKS.

I get why Apple is doing what they’ve been doing. Not doing the whole Touchscreen Interface crap on a Mac. You can have a really nice TouchPad to use with your Mac and do pretty much the same things that way. Without having to reach up and touch a screen.

Windows 8 and 8.1 really STUNK. Still, have that crap on one of our Servers here at work. Still, you have this touch stuff in Windows 10 I’m not a fan of. I like that MacOS and iOS are 2 separate OS’s. In many ways, they’re the same, but they’re designed for 2 different types of Inputs.

I want my iPhone or iPad to just work. I have no interest in wasting hours of my time playing around with settings. Ones it’s working as I like, I want to be done with that, and just be able to turn it on and launch the apps I want to use. Not worry or deal with all that crap and issues I do with a Windows computer.

I wish my Grandma didn’t have your Windows Computers. I’ve had to fix that a number of times and it’s complete overkill for her need. I’d rather it be a iPad or even a ChromeOS computer.

I’m not a fan of the Surface. It’s something trying to be everything to everyone and I personally think it fails at that. I also just want my tablet to work. I don’t want to deal with Firewalls, Anti-Virus software. Malware and Spyware. Then Upgrading all that crap all the time. Then the yearly or so Complete Windows Wipe and start over and things are all screwed up.

Windows 10 has firewall and antivirus, so you don’t have to deal with it. And I don’t know why do you have to reinstall Windows every year. Me and my customers haven’t reinstall Windows since the upgrade to Windows 10.

I get why Apple is doing what they’ve been doing. Not doing the whole Touchscreen Interface crap on a Mac. You can have a really nice TouchPad to use with your Mac and do pretty much the same things that way. Without having to reach up and touch a screen.
Windows 8 and 8.1 really STUNK. Still, have that crap on one of our Servers here at work. Still, you have this touch stuff in Windows 10 I’m not a fan of. I like that MacOS and iOS are 2 separate OS’s. In many ways, they’re the same, but they’re designed for 2 different types of Inputs.

First, Windows 10 doesn’t force you to use the touchscreen. In my SP4 I enable Tablet Mode and with the touch UI I browse the web, watch Netflix and take notes with the Pen. Later I attach the keyboard w/ trackpad or connect it to the Surface Dock to use it as a notebook/desktop.

Second, you mention that macOS and iOS are two separate OS’s, which is true. But then Apple release a keyboard for the iPad, which force you to use a touch UI and touch apps with a screen in vertical position. Even SJ at one time criticize this for ergonomics reasons.
http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-touch-screen-mac-2010-10
That’s a different approach compared to the Surface, where you can use the Tablet mode the way it is, and as a notebook/desktop, with a keyboard and trackpad. It think MS has the advantage, specially over the iPad.

So finally… games on mac?

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