iOS app porting won't make Mac feel like iPhone, Apple's Federighi says

Posted:
in macOS edited June 6
Apple's efforts to bring iOS apps to the Mac have been underway for two years, and the porting process for third-party developers won't be completely automatic, software engineering head Craig Federighi said in an interview.

Home app on macOS Mojave


Xcode will have an option to flag an app project as intended for both macOS and iOS, Federighi explained to Wired. But while some interface actions will be converted automatically -- a long press for instance becoming a two-finger click -- extra work may be required to cope with things like menus, sidebars, and share buttons.

Apple confirmed plans to bring iOS apps to the Mac during its Monday WWDC keynote. Early first-party examples will show up in this fall's macOS Mojave, such as Home and Apple News.

Mojave includes a version of iOS' UIKit, making it easier to code ports. The two platforms already share some underlying frameworks, such as Metal, which should leave few performance gaps based on chip architectures.

"At this level, not so much," he said. "In a lot of our core APIs, things like Metal, we've done the hard work over the years of making them run well on both Mac and its associated CPUs and GPUs, and on iOS."

After a very clear "no" delivered during the keynote, Federighi once again denied any plans to merge iOS and macOS, or develop a touchscreen-equipped Mac.

"We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do," he said. "I don't think we've looked at any of the other guys to date and said, how fast can we get there?"

He even referred to touchscreen-equipped Windows laptops as "experiments," despite their increasing prevalence. Microsoft's Surface devices have proven reasonably popular, although the Surface Pro and Surface Book are consciously designed with tablet use in mind.

Federighi further noted that developers will be able to control how converted macOS apps are sold, skipping the Mac App Store if they want. The public may hear about third-party access to conversion tools at WWDC 2019.

"That would be a reasonable thing to think," he said.

Rumors of Apple's plans to bring iOS apps to the Mac have been around since late 2017. At the time the project was allegedly called "Marzipan," with a goal of improving the quality and update frequency of Mac apps.

The reveal by Federighi differs from what was rumored, or has evolved. As it stands, Apple's frameworks, scheduled to be released to developers in 2019, will just serve to ease the difficulties of transitioning apps from iOS to the Mac, not run them in emulation or any similar environment.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,536member
    Im already behind on my WWDC videos but this un-named project is probably the most significant thing learned in the WWDC keynote.    It isnt exactly what i was expecting but seems like a well thought out approach to cross platform apps.  

    Still this isnt enough to forgive the no new Mac hardware at WWDC.   

    tallest skil
  • Reply 2 of 57
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,901member
    Whatever they do, please don't bring the touch screen to Mac.
    macxpressracerhomie3
  • Reply 3 of 57
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,402member
    wizard69 said:
    Im already behind on my WWDC videos but this un-named project is probably the most significant thing learned in the WWDC keynote.    It isnt exactly what i was expecting but seems like a well thought out approach to cross platform apps.  

    Still this isnt enough to forgive the no new Mac hardware at WWDC.   

    it’s a software conference for developers, there’s nothing to “forgive” as they did nothing wrong that begs forgiveness. If you were expecting product announcements that’s your deal.
    d_2Rayz2016racerhomie3fastasleepmattinozSpamSandwichcanukstormjony0
  • Reply 4 of 57
    wbmwbm Posts: 12unconfirmed, member
    I'm all for the idea of making it easier to share code between projects.  Having hung around the cross platform world forever, I'm glad that they are going this route.  Trying to have one app that magically runs on mac and ios would be too problematic for my taste.  I think this will be good, I just don't have time to deal with it right now.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 5 of 57
    wizard69 said:

    <snip>

    Still this isnt enough to forgive the no new Mac hardware at WWDC.   

    Apple hardware releases occur throughout the year, typically after new Intel CPUs have been incorporated into new or existing Mac platforms. For example, in the past five years for MacBook Pro, releases were in February (2013), March/May (2015), June (2017, WWDC last year), July (2014) and October twice (2013, 2016).

    There’s nothing to be gained by forcing hardware upgrades into a yearly June release cycle, and many reasons not to.  


    edited June 5 StrangeDays
  • Reply 6 of 57
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,231member
    Shocked! Shocked I tell you¡
  • Reply 7 of 57
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,337member
    wizard69 said:
    Im already behind on my WWDC videos but this un-named project is probably the most significant thing learned in the WWDC keynote.    It isnt exactly what i was expecting but seems like a well thought out approach to cross platform apps.  

    Still this isnt enough to forgive the no new Mac hardware at WWDC.   

    If you want new hardware buy a eGPU to speed up your Mac.
    racerhomie3
  • Reply 8 of 57
    Just based on numbers of iOS devices vs. Mac computers, wouldn't a lot of developers just develop an app that runs on iOS and not put too much emphasis on the Mac version?

    To me it sounds like the same thing we had when apps were ported from PC to Mac and there wasn't anything done to improve the interface. It was just a straight port. 

    Is is this the start of the phasing out of the mouse and a covert way to end up making a touch based Mac. A gradual way where you don't really notice until it makes sense because nobody writes code for mice anymore.  

    I hope not. 
  • Reply 9 of 57
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,337member
    They shouldn’t merge iOS and macOS.   They should just replace macOS with iOS - this is a good first step.  
  • Reply 10 of 57
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,609member
    I think the fear is more how the UI trends will be further impacted by more iOS developers coming to the Mac (many of whom have no Mac history). I think that's a reasonable fear, though I like this news better than what the rumors were. Directly bringing iOS apps would have been a disaster.

    wizard69 said:
    Im already behind on my WWDC videos but this un-named project is probably the most significant thing learned in the WWDC keynote.    It isnt exactly what i was expecting but seems like a well thought out approach to cross platform apps. 
    Yes, this was better news than what had been expected.

    fallenjt said:
    Whatever they do, please don't bring the touch screen to Mac.
    People I've talked to who regularly use Windows laptops with touch-screens seem to think it would be nice to have (and they use it). I still think it's a less efficient UI and agree with Apple's stance, but eventually if the market speaks loud enough, I'm sure Apple will go there. I guess my take on it, is that aside from a bit of cost, it doesn't really hurt if it's there and you don't use it (or would it degrade the screen quality or something?).

    StrangeDays said:
    it’s a software conference for developers, there’s nothing to “forgive” as they did nothing wrong that begs forgiveness. If you were expecting product announcements that’s your deal.
    It's a conference for developers (who use hardware), where the norm has been to announce new hardware... and an area where Apple is woefully behind. It would be silly NOT to expect them to have had some hardware ready.

    PickUrPoison said:
    There’s nothing to be gained by forcing hardware upgrades into a yearly June release cycle, and many reasons not to.  
    True, they should have been out months ago then, or years ago for some of the product line. There's no forcing here. When you're incredibly behind, catching up is expected.

    k2kw said:
    If you want new hardware buy a eGPU to speed up your Mac.
    Apple doesn't make a desktop with TB3 ports. (They only have the all-in-one iMac.)

    Just based on numbers of iOS devices vs. Mac computers, wouldn't a lot of developers just develop an app that runs on iOS and not put too much emphasis on the Mac version?

    To me it sounds like the same thing we had when apps were ported from PC to Mac and there wasn't anything done to improve the interface. It was just a straight port. 

    Is is this the start of the phasing out of the mouse and a covert way to end up making a touch based Mac. A gradual way where you don't really notice until it makes sense because nobody writes code for mice anymore.  

    I hope not. 
    No, I think hopefully opposite of that. The rumors had been being able to run iOS apps on the Mac. This will force developers that want to do so, to have to at least re-do the UI of the app. How good of a job they do at that remains to be seen.

    k2kw said:
    They should just replace macOS with iOS - this is a good first step.  
    How would people get their work done? A lot of us do things iOS isn't capable of, software doesn't exist for, or even if it did, would be less productive.
  • Reply 11 of 57
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,150member
    cgWerks said:
    People I've talked to who regularly use Windows laptops with touch-screens seem to think it would be nice to have (and they use it). I still think it's a less efficient UI and agree with Apple's stance, but eventually if the market speaks loud enough, I'm sure Apple will go there. I guess my take on it, is that aside from a bit of cost, it doesn't really hurt if it's there and you don't use it (or would it degrade the screen quality or something?).

    There are times now, that I've become so trained to use a touch screen, that I will instinctively reach out to my Mac screen, because it seems the most intuitive way to interact with the content on the display. So we may have reached the point where it's counterintuitive to withhold technology from the end-user, because it's not the most efficient method of input.

    The bigger issue I see in allowing this port to happen, is that the mouse will be necessary to navigate around the app, where a touch interface was once previously the only way to access functions. Suddenly apple's entire argument about not allowing a mouse on iOS will be blown, as people will have practical application sitting in front of them, and will demand the ability to use a mouse on an iPad, or even an iPhone, where again, depending on the use, will be the most intuitive interface available.

    Federighi said:
    "We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do"
    Except, this isn't really much different than what I'm already doing with the iPad. I can see this argument with the iPhone, at least in one-handed operation where the thumb is doing a lot of selection. But on the iPad, I typically hold it with one hand and rest my other at my side. I have to lift my hand up to the screen to poke at something, and hover it around when making text edits, or scrolling through screens. The same when I'm typing, it's a completely different way of handling the iPad when I switch from typing to navigating and selecting. 

    The reality is, we're being conditioned to use touch screens, everywhere in society. The point should be that we should be allowed to use the most intuitive interface possible to accomplish the task at hand. If touching the display creates a more direct and intuitive interaction than a remote touchpad, mouse, or keyboard, then that's what should be enabled -- let the customer decide whether they want to deal with the fatigue. Heck Apple can wall that garden too, and only allow certain parts of any screen to be touch enabled, focusing on those strengths. 

    Of course the biggest drawback is that the touch screen will add significantly to the cost and size of the Mac, so why do it unless absolutely necessary? Of course, porting iOS apps to the Mac is going to drop all pretense about the best way to deal with touch screens on a Mac. If I instinctively reach for the Mac display sometimes already, imagine what I will do when I see an app I'm used to manipulating on my iPhone and iPad appearing on the screen in front of me at my desk?
    edited June 5
  • Reply 12 of 57
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    fallenjt said:
    Whatever they do, please don't bring the touch screen to Mac.
    Unless it’s a “drafting desk” style computer that can be seamlessly adjusted (like the sunflower iMac) for content creation (down) or consumption (up). Then I’m intrigued at the possibilities.

    My hope (“You actually have hope left?” No, not really.) is that porting iOS apps to OS X applications causes iOS devs to become Mac devs. I know Apple doesn’t care about the Mac; I know they’re not profiting from it. But without computers, what is Apple?
    k2kw said:
    If you want new hardware buy a eGPU to speed up your Mac.
    Call me when they make eCPUs. And when they get rid of external boxes with extra PSUs and cables. You know what, a new Mac Pro. Just call me then.
    edited June 5 cgWerks
  • Reply 13 of 57
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,231member
    tallest skil said:
    I know Apple doesn’t care about the Mac; I know they’re not profiting from it.
    Obviously the do and obviously they are.
    fastasleepStrangeDays
  • Reply 14 of 57
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,047member

    The reveal by Federighi differs from what was rumored, or has evolved. 

    Er no, it wasn't.

    Every single tech site, rumour sheet, blogger and journalist got it right – all except you folk.


    fastasleepStrangeDayscgWerks
  • Reply 15 of 57
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,047member

     But without computers, what is Apple? 
    Phones
    Tablets
    Music
    Energy production
    Cloud services
    Wearables

    I think that about covers it.
  • Reply 16 of 57
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 685member
    mac_128 said:
    cgWerks said:
    People I've talked to who regularly use Windows laptops with touch-screens seem to think it would be nice to have (and they use it). I still think it's a less efficient UI and agree with Apple's stance, but eventually if the market speaks loud enough, I'm sure Apple will go there. I guess my take on it, is that aside from a bit of cost, it doesn't really hurt if it's there and you don't use it (or would it degrade the screen quality or something?).

    There are times now, that I've become so trained to use a touch screen, that I will instinctively reach out to my Mac screen, because it seems the most intuitive way to interact with the content on the display. So we may have reached the point where it's counterintuitive to withhold technology from the end-user, because it's not the most efficient method of input.

    The bigger issue I see in allowing this port to happen, is that the mouse will be necessary to navigate around the app, where a touch interface was once previously the only way to access functions. Suddenly apple's entire argument about not allowing a mouse on iOS will be blown, as people will have practical application sitting in front of them, and will demand the ability to use a mouse on an iPad, or even an iPhone, where again, depending on the use, will be the most intuitive interface available.

    Federighi said:
    "We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do"
    Except, this isn't really much different than what I'm already doing with the iPad. I can see this argument with the iPhone, at least in one-handed operation where the thumb is doing a lot of selection. But on the iPad, I typically hold it with one hand and rest my other at my side. I have to lift my hand up to the screen to poke at something, and hover it around when making text edits, or scrolling through screens. The same when I'm typing, it's a completely different way of handling the iPad when I switch from typing to navigating and selecting. 

    The reality is, we're being conditioned to use touch screens, everywhere in society. The point should be that we should be allowed to use the most intuitive interface possible to accomplish the task at hand. If touching the display creates a more direct and intuitive interaction than a remote touchpad, mouse, or keyboard, then that's what should be enabled -- let the customer decide whether they want to deal with the fatigue. Heck Apple can wall that garden too, and only allow certain parts of any screen to be touch enabled, focusing on those strengths. 

    Of course the biggest drawback is that the touch screen will add significantly to the cost and size of the Mac, so why do it unless absolutely necessary? Of course, porting iOS apps to the Mac is going to drop all pretense about the best way to deal with touch screens on a Mac. If I instinctively reach for the Mac display sometimes already, imagine what I will do when I see an app I'm used to manipulating on my iPhone and iPad appearing on the screen in front of me at my desk?
    Dude. Just use the damn trackpad.
    Go buy a cheap Windows Touch screen , and see how annoying it is to use. 
  • Reply 17 of 57
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,402member
    Just based on numbers of iOS devices vs. Mac computers, wouldn't a lot of developers just develop an app that runs on iOS and not put too much emphasis on the Mac version?

    To me it sounds like the same thing we had when apps were ported from PC to Mac and there wasn't anything done to improve the interface. It was just a straight port. 

    Is is this the start of the phasing out of the mouse and a covert way to end up making a touch based Mac. A gradual way where you don't really notice until it makes sense because nobody writes code for mice anymore.  

    I hope not. 
    No. 
  • Reply 18 of 57
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,402member

    cgWerks said:
    StrangeDays said:
    it’s a software conference for developers, there’s nothing to “forgive” as they did nothing wrong that begs forgiveness. If you were expecting product announcements that’s your deal.
    It's a conference for developers (who use hardware), where the norm has been to announce new hardware... and an area where Apple is woefully behind. It would be silly NOT to expect them to have had some hardware ready.
    It’s a conference for developers (who breath air) - did they screw up by not announcing new air? Nope. Your observation that devs use hardware is irrelevant and unrelated to the subject matter...software. 

    It is silly to expect new product announcements at an event not designed for new product announcements. These posts come up every single year... Answer is still the same: “It’s a software conference.” 

    It’s not designed to ease whatever anxiety you have in life that makes you believe you need Cook to give you updates on the Mac roadmap. 

    Soli
  • Reply 19 of 57
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,402member

    tallest skil said:
    I know Apple doesn’t care about the Mac; I know they’re not profiting from it. But without computers, what is Apple? 
    What an absurd thing to say, and completely disconnected from reality and the exact words of Apple execs time and time again. 
  • Reply 20 of 57
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,402member

    Rayz2016 said:

    The reveal by Federighi differs from what was rumored, or has evolved. 

    Er no, it wasn't.

    Every single tech site, rumour sheet, blogger and journalist got it right – all except you folk.

    Exactly — MR and Daring Fireball got it right, but AI kept running with “iOS apps running on Mac!”, despite the many corrections we posted here....

    https://daringfireball.net/2017/12/marzipan
    Rayz2016
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