Apple mulling at unified app development a la Microsoft's UWP
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Apple could very well be developing a unified app platform similar to what Microsoft has in place for Windows 10, according to a Bloomberg report. The move could see consolidation of apps across the iOS family of devices and macOS, which are currently independent development platforms but leverage a lot of common functions. Apple is hoping that unification of apps across its platforms could add some numbers to the macOS App Store, which is currently anemic compared to the vastly superior iOS store.
The project is internally codenamed 'Marzipan' and could feature in next year's macOS and iOS refreshes. Insider sources say that the project has been in development for quite some time but is a multiyear effort for the long term. While the project is being actively pursued, it could also very well get cancelled if it does not pan according to Apple's expectations.
Apple's efforts are not very different from what Microsoft has in place for Windows 10 in the form of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). UWP enables developers to target PC, mobile, Xbox, and HoloLens with a single codebase that scales apropos to the target device and screen type. It allows developers to monetize the app across a single app store front-end. Apple famously took a dig at Microsoft's unification efforts earlier with Tim Cook remarking, "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user." Craig Federighi, SVP Software Engineering at Apple, said that blending of iOS and macOS is a "compromise".
Apple has been incorporating ARM chips in iMacs and MacBooks to offload some functions from the main CPU. It will be interesting to see whether these ARM chips will play any role in running iOS apps in macOS or will they run natively on the main CPU. Also of interest would be to see how these unified apps will talk to existing desktop macOS apps and work with traditional keyboard and mouse, given that macOS is not inherently optimized for touch-based interaction. Hopefully, Apple will eventually find a way to finally 'converge a toaster and a refrigerator' without 'compromise'.