Apple is aiming to simplify developers lives with a new initiative called project Marzipan. Under the new tools, some of which are expected to be announced in June at WWDC, developers will eventually be able to submit a single binary for iPhone, iPad and Mac Apps. This would significantly cut down development time by eliminating the need for double-coding. The news comes from Bloomberg which indicates that the project will be a multi-step process over the next few years.
First, this year, Apple will release new tools that will allow developers to easily port their iPad apps to Mac. Developers will still need to submit their app to both the iOS and macOS app stores but the underlying code will be the same. This should sound familiar. This fundamentally is what Apple has used internally to port Apple News, Apple Home and Apple Stocks from the iPad to macOS Mojave last year.
Next, in 2020, the kit will expand to included iPhone apps. This has been challenging for Apple internally given the screen size differences between an iPhone and a Mac. Finally, in 2021, developers will be able to merge their code into a single binary. This means that they won’t have to submit their apps to different app stores but only have to do it once. It will also allow for iOS apps to be downloaded to macOS devices – effectively making one giant App Store.
Clearly this will be a Herculean effort by Apple to make this happen. According to the Bloomberg report, plans and timelines are still fluid internally at Apple. Apple declined to comment for the article. The advantages however are significant as it would allow developers to get their apps on all platforms without having to build multiple binary’s of their app. This too is good for Apple as they get a cut of every app sold in the App Store. Having a single app across all of them is a money maker for them.
One thing to be clear on is that project Marzipan is not combining iOS and macOS. The two will remain distinct platforms. This is changing how apps are coded so they work on both platforms seamlessly.