Apple plans to blend iOS, macOS apps by 2021

Apple wants to make it easier for developers to create apps for iPads, iPhones and Macs. (Pixabay)

A convergence that Apple has been reluctant to embrace for more than a decade is now in motion. The iPhone maker plans to let developers port iPad apps to Mac computers later this year and expand the effort next year so developers can convert iPhone apps to Mac apps, according to Bloomberg.

While the company isn’t ready to fully merge iOS and macOS, a new software development kit will make it easier for developers to build apps once and have them ported across Apple’s entire line of mobile devices. The initiative, code-named “Marzipan,” is a three-step process that will ultimately culminate with a single Apple App Store for Macs, iPhones and iPads by 2021, Bloomberg reports.

During the interim, developers will still be required to submit separate versions of their app to the iOS and Mac App Stores, but the SDK will enable developers to avoid the extra work of building two entirely separate apps. The effort is intended to simplify the process for developers and dramatically increase the number of apps available for iPads, Macs and iPhones.

The iPad-to-Mac porting process will be followed up in 2020 by an iPhone-to-Mac conversion capability, and by 2021 developers will be able to merge all of their Apple apps into a single framework that will work across all three devices, according to Bloomberg.

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Millions of developers write software for Apple devices, but many of them have had to abandon certain product lines to focus attention where they can gain the most users. Apple plans to maintain separate operating systems for Mac and iOS devices, but the blended app development framework will effectively remove many restrictions for developers.

Google has undergone a similar effort by allowing some Chromebooks to run apps designed for Android devices, but the process isn’t fluid and is limited to select devices. Apple is expected to share more details about its plans at its annual developers conference in June.