Following Google’s lead of bringing Android apps to Chromebooks, Apple leaders announced at the WWDC 2018 that they were in the process of making iOS apps available on macOS.
Since WWDC is the annual gathering place for Apple developers (this year it was in San Jose), keynote addresses often focus on new OS features. In 2018, as with years before, Apple introduced a new version of its mobile OS– iOS 12–and macOS Mojave, version 10.14 of its desktop operating system.
While the systems have their own unique features, including a host of new tools for security, productivity, and automation, the elephant in the room was the potential interplay between the two.
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“The fact that the Mac and iOS share so much technology has led people every year to ask the question: Are you merging MacOS and iOS?” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, during the keynote.
The short answer to that question is “no,” Federighi said, but the company is building out cross-platform compatibility.
“iOS devices and macOS devices of course are different,” Federighi said. “That makes porting an app from one to the other some work. We wanted to make that much easier. We’ve taken some key frameworks from iOS and brought them to the Mac.”
SEE: How to become an iOS developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
According to Federighi, Apple has been working on a major project for the past few years, focused on bringing part of the UIKit to macOS’s AppKit to make some iOS apps available on macOS. In macOS Mojave, four iOS apps will be available on the Mac: News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home.
Because this is a difficult undertaking, Apple is starting the process with its own apps. The biggest challenge is that the iOS apps have to be optimized for traditional computer inputs, including:
- Trackpad and mouse input
- App window stoplights
- Window resizing
- Copy and paste
- Drag and drop
Developers will have access to this UIKit update in 2019, Federighi said. And once they are able to work with the crossover platform, it might streamline the process for making iOS apps more readily available on Mac.
Business leaders should keep in mind that these changes may affect their proprietary apps, so they should invest in training for their developers as soon as documentation is available.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Apple is adamant that it isn’t merging iOS and macOS, but it is bringing some iOS apps to the Mac with an updated UIKit.
- Developers will have access to the an updated UIKit to bring iOS apps to Mac in 2019, and businesses should invest in training for their developers as soon as they can.