Apple to let developers port iOS apps to Mac, starts with own apps in macOS Mojave

Posted:
in macOS edited June 6
Concluding its WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple offered a "sneak peek" at what it called a multi-year project to bring iOS apps to the Mac.

WWDC 2018 iOS on Mac


While iOS and macOS share similar underlying frameworks, there are also key differences that have made porting iOS apps to Mac difficult, said Apple's senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi. The company is incorporating previously iOS-only frameworks into macOS, and allowing those apps to tap into things like mouse and trackpad input, resizable windows, scroll bars, and copy-and-paste.

Some apps in this fall's macOS Mojave -- namely Home, News, Voice Memos, and Apple Books -- are in fact ports of their iOS equivalents.

Federighi denied speculation that Apple will eventually merge macOS and iOS, bringing up a dramatic "No" slide when raising the topic.

WWDC 2018 iOS on Mac


Rumors of iOS apps coming to the Mac have been around since 2017. Apple could partly be hoping to reinvigorate the Mac App Store, which has languished given the ability of Mac developers to sell apps anywhere they want without giving Apple a percentage of revenues or going through screening.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,769member
    "Are you merging iOS and macOS?" 

    Craig: "No. Of course not!"

    ...it was a good moment of comic relief. 

    This announcement (the Marzipan rumor) is a good approach to lowering the barrier of entry to building native-Mac apps. As Gruber and other devs predicted, it's not "iOS apps running on Mac!" but is the addition of a framework (UIKit) to macOS to make it easier to build a native-Mac app based on work already done for an iOS app. Exactly what we devs said in the comments here. It won't be an iOS app on Mac (other than that you wrote code for iOS first)...the Mac version won't look like a windowed iOS app and will instead look, operate, and be like a Mac app.

    This should increase the number of useful native Mac apps, which is their goal. If they instead allowed iOS apps to run in a window it would only reduce the number of native Mac apps even 
    further. RIM experienced that pain when they announced their platform would run both Blackberry and Android apps. Guess what happened? Devs stopped making Blackberry apps, because why bother if it could run Android apps? I wouldn't expect Apple to make that same mistake on the Mac.
    edited June 4 racerhomie3Rayz2016minicoffeeroundaboutnowrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 33
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,287member
    I'm super-excited about this as an app developer at WWDC!  We have been struggling to get a decent version of our app available on the Mac Store.  IF we can reuse most of our code and make it compatible to be compiled to Mac... it will make things so much better!
    racerhomie3netroxclaire1repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 33
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,603member

    Rumors of iOS apps coming to the Mac have been around since 2017. Apple could partly be hoping to reinvigorate the Mac App Store, which has languished given the ability of Mac developers to sell apps anywhere they want without giving Apple a percentage of revenues or going through screening.
    So you’re saying that Apple is going to prevent developers from using the API unless they put the app on the App Store?

    I doubt this will be the case. 
  • Reply 4 of 33
    I knew Apple would go this route because it’s the only route that makes logical sense.

    Adding UIKit made the most sense when I was trying to port a barcode tutorial app that I macOS and I couldn’t work out how to do it despite developing it in iOS being super simple. I wished Apple just ported UIKit to macOS and have it work the way a macOS app would.

    I think Apple is able to read my mind. I mean given iPhone and Apple Watch are connected to me constantly it seems maybe they’ve worked out how to read brain waves as well. That’s both super cool and super scary as well :wink: 
    mcdaveRayz2016claire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 33
    I love the MacBook Pro, but ultimately it's still the same tired .. now decades old .. PowerBook design. The 12.9" iPad Pro provides a thinner form factor, front and rear facing cameras, better (non-Intel) graphics, a full touch screen, Apple Pencil support, and a high refresh rate display. These are exciting features that Apple is depriving the mac faithful. WHY ON EARTH ARE THEY DOING THIS? All that is needed is a decent keyboard cover with a track pad (not unlike Microsoft's Surface Pro Type Cover) and the iPad Pro would have everything needed to run macOS. I cannot understand why Apple isn't making this "macPad" product. It sure seems like low hanging fruit to me. Apple might be deathly afraid of what might happen. That the macPad would too popular, people would use it to replace their MacBook. Where today Apple currently sells two devices, people need buy only one. Apple is the company that not afraid to cannibalize itself? Maybe not! Honestly though .. if the iPad is the future of computing .. put up or shut up Apple. No - I don't want to run iOS apps on my MacBook .. I want a mac that do all the cool things an iPad can do.
  • Reply 6 of 33
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 848member
    No - I don't want to run iOS apps on my MacBook .. I want a mac that do all the cool things an iPad can do.
    If the issue is that devs aren’t writing Mac Apps - how will your plan actually work?
    bb-15tdknoxSpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 33
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,769member
    I love the MacBook Pro, but ultimately it's still the same tired .. now decades old .. PowerBook design. The 12.9" iPad Pro provides a thinner form factor, front and rear facing cameras, better (non-Intel) graphics, a full touch screen, Apple Pencil support, and a high refresh rate display. These are exciting features that Apple is depriving the mac faithful. WHY ON EARTH ARE THEY DOING THIS? All that is needed is a decent keyboard cover with a track pad (not unlike Microsoft's Surface Pro Type Cover) and the iPad Pro would have everything needed to run macOS. I cannot understand why Apple isn't making this "macPad" product. It sure seems like low hanging fruit to me. Apple might be deathly afraid of what might happen. That the macPad would too popular, people would use it to replace their MacBook. Where today Apple currently sells two devices, people need buy only one. Apple is the company that not afraid to cannibalize itself? Maybe not! Honestly though .. if the iPad is the future of computing .. put up or shut up Apple. No - I don't want to run iOS apps on my MacBook .. I want a mac that do all the cool things an iPad can do.
    Don’t quit your day job. 
  • Reply 8 of 33
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,747member
    It kinda sounds like they are though. iOS apps running on a Mac, you're running one UI inside another.
    What do you think the next step would be, separating them? Don't think so.
  • Reply 9 of 33
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,424member
    Having fooled arond a bit with XCode and app development in general I really wish Apple would do something about XCode and how it works.    I suspect that the biggest problem with Mac development and the lack of apps there is that it is a strange platform to develop for.
  • Reply 10 of 33
    It kinda sounds like they are though. iOS apps running on a Mac, you're running one UI inside another.
    What do you think the next step would be, separating them? Don't think so.
    Not really. This is NO different to using Wine to run Windows apps on UNIX based platforms. You're not running a UI per se you're converting a UI to run on another UI. For developers what this means is you write the app for one UI and the OS converts it into its own UI. There's not a huge performance hit doing this than say doing what Parallels and VMWare do because you're not running an entire OS in a virtual machine. There is however a small hit but given the way that iOS is built on the same foundation of macOS then the performance hit for this will be negligible especially given the processing power of a desktop/laptop processor.

    wizard69 said:
    Having fooled arond a bit with XCode and app development in general I really wish Apple would do something about XCode and how it works.    I suspect that the biggest problem with Mac development and the lack of apps there is that it is a strange platform to develop for.
    I'm a complete noob to Xcode but I don't agree with you at all. What's so difficult to learn with Xcode? I suspect you're thinking about Swift but then you're writing for a completely new programming language and one that makes far more sense than C++, C# etc.

    It sure seems like low hanging fruit to me. Apple might be deathly afraid of what might happen.
    Apple doesn't do low hanging fruit. It never has and never will. Get over it.

    No - I don't want to run iOS apps on my MacBook .. I want a mac that do all the cool things an iPad can do.
    I DO want to run iOS apps on my MacBook because there are apps I use on iOS that don't exist on macOS and this just seems to be a happy in-between.

    If you want a Mac to do all the cool things an iPad can do then get a sodding iPad that CAN do all the cool things a iPad can do because... well it's an iPad already. It's not rocket science.

    The reason I want iOS apps running on my macBook is simply because I need a macBook but I also have an iPad 3 that can only go to iOS 9. One app I use all the time will run on iOS 9 but it has issues with the share panel which is the way it does things to share the data files with iOS, Windows, and Android. There is no macOS version and using the app on iPhone can be tricky in order to get the most out of it. But if this app was useable on macOS then I can do that side of thing on the Mac then upload the datafile to the iPhone and use it in a reader capacity which works well.

    Just because the use case doesn't exist for you doesn't mean that it's a rubbish idea.
    StrangeDaystdknoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 33
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,769member
    wizard69 said:
    Having fooled arond a bit with XCode and app development in general I really wish Apple would do something about XCode and how it works.    I suspect that the biggest problem with Mac development and the lack of apps there is that it is a strange platform to develop for.
    So can I guess that you’re not a software developer? In which case, your comment sounds a bit like, “I’ve fooled around under the hood of my car, and boy I think it’s strange. They should make Mercedes easier to work on.”

    Meanwhile, iOS is a very successful platform of native applications. 
    edited June 4 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 33
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,769member

    It kinda sounds like they are though. iOS apps running on a Mac, you're running one UI inside another.
    What do you think the next step would be, separating them? Don't think so.
    This is wrong. The iOS app is not running “inside” of a Mac app. macOS is gaining the UIKit framework, and will implement it differently than iOS does. The code becomes more cross-platform. 

    If if you’re not a developer, you probably will struggle with this. Sorry. 
    pmb01
  • Reply 13 of 33
    So after having the infamous Red, Blue, and Yellow Boxes, could this be considered the Green Box?

    Dark Mode reminds me of Copland's P Theme. And QuickLook just continues to look more like OpenDoc Editors.
    There's nothing new.
    edited June 4 avon b7
  • Reply 14 of 33
    IanSIanS Posts: 20member
    And soon enough they will be using the same processors.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,603member
    I love the MacBook Pro, but ultimately it's still the same tired .. now decades old .. PowerBook design. The 12.9" iPad Pro provides a thinner form factor, front and rear facing cameras, better (non-Intel) graphics, a full touch screen, Apple Pencil support, and a high refresh rate display. These are exciting features that Apple is depriving the mac faithful. WHY ON EARTH ARE THEY DOING THIS? All that is needed is a decent keyboard cover with a track pad (not unlike Microsoft's Surface Pro Type Cover) and the iPad Pro would have everything needed to run macOS. I cannot understand why Apple isn't making this "macPad" product. It sure seems like low hanging fruit to me. Apple might be deathly afraid of what might happen. That the macPad would too popular, people would use it to replace their MacBook. Where today Apple currently sells two devices, people need buy only one. Apple is the company that not afraid to cannibalize itself? Maybe not! Honestly though .. if the iPad is the future of computing .. put up or shut up Apple. No - I don't want to run iOS apps on my MacBook .. I want a mac that do all the cool things an iPad can do.
    Don’t quit your day job. 
    What day job?
  • Reply 16 of 33
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,603member

    It kinda sounds like they are though. iOS apps running on a Mac, you're running one UI inside another.
    What do you think the next step would be, separating them? Don't think so.
    🤦🏾‍♂️
    Christ on a bicycle … 
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 17 of 33
    It sure seems like low hanging fruit to me. Apple might be deathly afraid of what might happen.
    Apple doesn't do low hanging fruit. It never has and never will. Get over it.

    No - I don't want to run iOS apps on my MacBook .. I want a mac that do all the cool things an iPad can do.
    I DO want to run iOS apps on my MacBook because there are apps I use on iOS that don't exist on macOS and this just seems to be a happy in-between.

    If you want a Mac to do all the cool things an iPad can do then get a sodding iPad that CAN do all the cool things a iPad can do because... well it's an iPad already. It's not rocket science.

    The reason I want iOS apps running on my macBook is simply because I need a macBook but I also have an iPad 3 that can only go to iOS 9. One app I use all the time will run on iOS 9 but it has issues with the share panel which is the way it does things to share the data files with iOS, Windows, and Android. There is no macOS version and using the app on iPhone can be tricky in order to get the most out of it. But if this app was useable on macOS then I can do that side of thing on the Mac then upload the datafile to the iPhone and use it in a reader capacity which works well.

    Just because the use case doesn't exist for you doesn't mean that it's a rubbish idea.
    But there in lies another problem... the iPad Pro can't run Xcode and other important applications that I need for software development.

    Why can't there exist a mac tablet, that has a touch screen with Apple Pencil support?
    Simply insisting that what I am asking for isn't needed is such a Window/PC thing to do.

    I have a MacBook Pro today and literally ZERO desire to buy another one - I don't care how fast it might be.  I know what the MacBook Pro ownership experience is all about and quite frankly ... I'm bored with it.  I see the iPad Pro with new features (Rear Facing Camera, Apple Pencil, Tablet Form Factor) but a software ecosystem that falls well short of what I need.  Merely putting the "Pro" moniker on a product doesn't make it a "Product for Professionals."  And I certainly do not want to carry two devices.

    Apple's insistence that iOS be the only platform for it's tablets is holding back both the iPad and the Mac.  This is a recipe for failure.

  • Reply 18 of 33
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,603member

    wizard69 said:
    Having fooled arond a bit with XCode and app development in general I really wish Apple would do something about XCode and how it works.    I suspect that the biggest problem with Mac development and the lack of apps there is that it is a strange platform to develop for.
    I suspect that “fooling arond a bit” isn’t really the basis of an informed opinion. 
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 33
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,603member

    I love the MacBook Pro, but
    NEXT!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 33
    It sure seems like low hanging fruit to me. Apple might be deathly afraid of what might happen.
    Apple doesn't do low hanging fruit. It never has and never will. Get over it.

    No - I don't want to run iOS apps on my MacBook .. I want a mac that do all the cool things an iPad can do.
    I DO want to run iOS apps on my MacBook because there are apps I use on iOS that don't exist on macOS and this just seems to be a happy in-between.

    If you want a Mac to do all the cool things an iPad can do then get a sodding iPad that CAN do all the cool things a iPad can do because... well it's an iPad already. It's not rocket science.

    The reason I want iOS apps running on my macBook is simply because I need a macBook but I also have an iPad 3 that can only go to iOS 9. One app I use all the time will run on iOS 9 but it has issues with the share panel which is the way it does things to share the data files with iOS, Windows, and Android. There is no macOS version and using the app on iPhone can be tricky in order to get the most out of it. But if this app was useable on macOS then I can do that side of thing on the Mac then upload the datafile to the iPhone and use it in a reader capacity which works well.

    Just because the use case doesn't exist for you doesn't mean that it's a rubbish idea.
    But there in lies another problem... the iPad Pro can't run Xcode and other important applications that I need for software development.

    Why can't there exist a mac tablet, that has a touch screen with Apple Pencil support?
    Simply insisting that what I am asking for isn't needed is such a Window/PC thing to do.

    I have a MacBook Pro today and literally ZERO desire to buy another one - I don't care how fast it might be.  I know what the MacBook Pro ownership experience is all about and quite frankly ... I'm bored with it.  I see the iPad Pro with new features (Rear Facing Camera, Apple Pencil, Tablet Form Factor) but a software ecosystem that falls well short of what I need.  Merely putting the "Pro" moniker on a product doesn't make it a "Product for Professionals."  And I certainly do not want to carry two devices.

    Apple's insistence that iOS be the only platform for it's tablets is holding back both the iPad and the Mac.  This is a recipe for failure.

    An iPad is not a development machine. It simply doesn’t have the processing power to do what you’re asking of it. Microsoft did what you’re asking and it was a crap experience. M$ have been trying to push your idea for around 18 years and it’s been crap each and every single time. Don’t get me wrong Windows 10 is actually a great OS but it’s insistance of trying to force Metro apps on desktop users was dumb especially when they refused to eat their own pie with Office. But the other way of having a desktop OS on a tablet was even more of a cesspool of putrid crud so your idea has already proved to have failed for the past 18 years.

    What Apple is doing is not getting iOS apps running on a Mac they’re setting it up so that developers don’t have to think multiple ways for doing the development of the UI. Basically the developer only has to use UIKit syntax and Xcode will translate it to NS methods. This will cut development times considerably. You’d still be making a macOS app you just won’t need to use macOS syntaxes.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
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