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article imageReport: Apple to bring iOS apps to the Mac desktop in 2018

By James Walker     Dec 21, 2017 in Technology
Apple will make it possible to run iOS apps on macOS devices next year, according to a new report. After deliberately keeping iOS and macOS separate throughout their history, the company looks set to follow its platform rivals in merging the two together.
iOS apps on macOS devices
Apple's two primary operating systems are currently distinct entities. They target different families of devices and have their own apps that can't directly be run on each other. There's the Mac App Store for Macs and the App Store for iOS. Apps in one store aren't necessarily available in the other. If they are, the developer's had to make a unique version for each store.
A new report from Bloomberg claims this will change as soon as next year. Under a secret project known as "Marzipan," Apple's begun to lay the groundwork for greater interoperability between macOS and iOS. The project's an extensive endeavour that will take years to complete. Core functionality is expected to rollout during 2018 though.
Apple has historically kept macOS and iOS apart from each other, choosing to develop them as entirely separate platforms. In recent years, this message has begun to change.
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The company has focused on developing features that make it easier to work across iOS and macOS. Previously iOS-exclusive features, such as Siri and Apple Pay, have been launched on macOS. Apple's also doubled down on presenting the iPad as the future of computing, a statement which could hint at a closer connection to future Mac devices.
Apple's now said to be bringing iOS apps across to the desktop for several key reasons. One of them is the state of the current Mac App Store, a far less successful initiative than the iOS App Store. Mac App Store apps are often infrequently updated or less fully-featured than their mobile counterparts, something users have long complained about.
New approach to computing
Unifying the stores will allow Mac users to run iOS apps on their desktop while simultaneously encouraging developer adoption. Developers will be able to write their app once and target devices ranging from the iPhone to Apple's new iMac Pro. The ensuing shift in Apple's software strategy would be the most significant in the company's history since it unveiled iOS and became a two-ecosystem company.
In recent years, both of Apple's main rivals have moved to centralise their platforms. With Windows 10, Microsoft launched its Universal Windows Apps model which allows apps to be written once and run on PCs and phones. Likewise, Google's completed its own effort, bringing Android apps to Chromebooks. It had faced similar issues with its Chrome Web Store to those Apple's now encountering with the Mac App Store.
The decision to pursue Marzipan represents a major change in Apple's approach to the future of devices. After holding out on converged computing models for years, the company now seems to be following the competition with a complete rethinking of how its app stores will operate.
The plans are said to be far from final and many technical details may change. A first implementation of iOS apps on macOS could be shown at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in the summer.
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