It could happen. It needs to happen. I want it to happen. What? Unity. A future version of macOS which can also run iOS applications. Bloomberg says Apple has plans for a combined iPhone, iPad, and Mac app experience.
What could go wrong? What could go right? What could go wrong is obvious. Implementation. While macOS and iOS are based upon mostly the same Unix-like innards, the interface and API tools are vastly different. Mac apps don’t run on iPhone or iPad. Likewise, iOS apps don’t really run on the Mac. But what if apps could run anywhere?
Look, Apple is a very big company with more resources than many developed nations, so it makes sense that they devote some research and development funds to a few crazy ideas. Could Apple make a touchscreen Mac? Sure. But research shows most Windows notebook users don’t use the device as a touchscreen, despite what you see on television commercials. At the other end of the scale, iOS just is not as powerful as the Mac. There is nothing in the iOS App Store that rivals Adobe’s Photoshop or Creative Cloud apps, or Apple’s own Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro X.
Such a merging of platforms is not new. Google has Android Play Store apps that run on Chrome OS Chromebooks. Microsoft had the Universal Windows Platform so app developers could create a single app that ran everywhere.
Mark Gurman says Apple’s project is codenamed Marzipan.
a sweet, yellowish paste of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites, often colored and used to make small cakes or confections or as an icing for larger cakes.
a confection or cake made of or based on marzipan.
plural noun: marzipans
In other words, a mixture of some sort. Fair enough. But will it blend?
How will Marzipan work? Only Apple knows and it’s likely such a fluid project that even Apple doesn’t know how it will or should turn out, and that breeds more questions than answers.
For example, would a Marzipan developed app run on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, each with their respective visual and interactive differences? How would an iOS app work on the Mac’s screen? Would the mouse or trackpad become the touch on the touchscreen?
This is an interesting idea and it explains what Apple does with the $10-billion or so it spends on R&D each year. What I would rather see are some touchscreen capability in macOS Bakersfield on a Mac with a touchscreen, Windows style. Also, how about marrying a Mac with macOS Bakersfield with an iPad where the iPad acts as the Mac’s detachable screen, but the keyboard section of an ARM-based Mac is the Mac?
Regardless, the devil is in the details, and that’s where Apple often does best. Or, decides the details are not worth the effort. iPhone and iPad apps on the Mac? Sure. Why not? We can run macOS, Linux, Unix, and Windows, so why not iOS apps, too. Throw in an Android option while you’re at it, Apple.