The Unseen Impact of iOS Apps on the Mac

One of the most significant questions often asked by the Apple faithful had been whether the Mac OS and iOS would ever be merged. At WWDC Apple executives addressed this exact question and forcefully stated that this would never happen.

However, they went on to say that there is legitimate merit to enable developers by making it easier to bring iOS apps over to macOS for use on a Mac and become part of their continuity story. This means that if you use the new Voice Memo app on the Mac that is also on iOS, whatever you record on the Mac version is also available on the iPhone and iPad instantaneously.

Apple stated that for the next year they will be doing internal work to be able to port an iOS app to the Mac easily and that sometime in 2019 they could make these tools available to their developers. This special SDK would allow them to port their iOS apps to the Mac if interested and it “makes sense.” Here lies an important caveat for developers.

There are millions of iOS apps out there, and not all of them make sense to be ported to the Mac. It also turns out that a lot of iOS apps use simple code designs and would not be able to be ported over to the Mac to work with its more complex underlying macOS architecture.

For the time being, Apple is going only to make available four iOS apps that will be included in the next update of macOS called Mojave. These apps will be Home, Stocks, News and Voice Recorder. Apple has done a great deal of work so that regardless of the CPU used to run each OS, the underlying core of both operating systems have many of the same functions, and with the right tools, iOS apps will work well on a Mac in the near future.

While many users would like to have some of their favorite iOS apps available on the Mac now, Apple is smart to make this a multi-year project. That allows them to do it in a way in which iOS apps can be designed extremely well and fit within the design criteria that is on the Mac, which is entirely different then it is on iOS devices. iOS uses touch-based navigation while Mac’s navigation uses a touchpad or a mouse. Apple has no interest in adding touchscreens to the Mac so making sure the navigational UI on iOS apps (touch) can work well with the UI navigation of the Mac (mouse/pointer) will be critical to any iOS app working on a Mac.

What is vital about bringing iOS apps to the Mac is that Apple is unifying the user interfaces of both operating systems so that switching between the two will be a seamless experience. Both OS user interfaces have essential attributes that complement each other and unifying the UI will enhance the overall Apple experience and make continuity even better as apps on both platforms work the same and are updated on either OS platforms instantly.

This move by Apple also acknowledges something fundamental about the differences between the Mac vs. the iPhone and iPad. Although the iPhone and the iPad can be used for some level of productivity, the Mac is still the power PC used for doing and managing more complex tasks and applications. If you are a programmer or a graphic designer or an engineer, you would be hard-pressed to do this work on an iPad or an iPhone. As one who writes for a living, I have written some of my columns on an iPad but always do the final edits on a Mac or PC.

Apple has now made it clear that both operating systems have a place in their ecosystem. By adding iOS apps to the Mac, they are creating a more seamless and integrated experience for their users so that the distinction of which OS to use will be based on the types of tasks they need to accomplish at any given time. This new strategy should serve them well and could even help boost sales of Mac’s in the future.

Unifying these disparate UI’s is a big deal in Apple’s overall strategy. It brings a higher level of simplicity to the overall Mac, iPhone and iPad experience and while not integrating the Mac and iOS into a single operating system, it has the same effect. Although most of the millions of iOS Apps will never find their way to the Mac, the most important ones I suspect will be developed for use on the Mac platform and in doing so, bring some great applications to the Mac that should make working on a Mac even more productive and enjoyable.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *