Apple is bridging iOS and macOS with a new breed of apps that work across both platforms. Sort of. At WWDC, Apple unveiled a suite of new Mac apps including News, Stocks, Home and Voice Memos. Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, then revealed that they were all built, or rather ported, from their iOS counterparts. It's all part of a new UIkit which Apple has ripped from the iOS side and transplanted next to the macOS AppKit. The macOS and iOS apps are still a little different -- but they share a lot of the same underlying elements, which cover basic features such as copy and paste, window resizing, and drag and drop.
The same functionality will be offered to developers next year. Federighi said the company's work is still in an early phase -- hence the delay, and why it wanted to experiment with some of its own apps first. When it's offered to third-party developers, the functionality could have large ramifications for macOS, quickly populating the desktop scene with native apps that look and feel like their iOS counterparts. It could -- and this is a long shot -- make the Mac App Store feel less like a graveyard, and more of a mirror to the packed (some would say too much so) App Store on iOS.
Make no mistake, though: Apple isn't merging macOS and iOS.
Google and Microsoft have tried similar approaches. Some Chromebooks can run Android apps, though the experience is often lackluster because they were originally designed for a phone-sized display. Still, it's something, and Google's long-rumored Fuchsia operating system could bleed the line even further. Microsoft, meanwhile, pushed "universal Windows apps" as a way for developers to simultaneously support PC, the Xbox One, and Windows phones. Windows 10 Mobile, however, is effectively dead, and developer interest has effectively flatlined. With two successful operating systems, Apple will be hoping to do much better.
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