Rumor (and my opinion): ‘Universal apps’ coming for macOS, iOS

Apple plans to allow developers to release universal apps that work across the macOS and iOS as early as next year as part of the company’s “Marzipan” project, according to Bloomberg News. The apps will work with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on a Mac, the article adds, quoting unnamed “people familiar with the matter.”

Currently, of course, developers have to develop apps separately the iOS or the macOS. Unifying the apps could help the iOS and macOS platforms “evolve and grow as one, and not one at the expense of the other,” Steven Troughton-Smith, an app developer, tells Bloomberg News. “This would be the biggest change to Apple’s software platform since iOS was introduced.”

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However, Bloomberg News says the plans are still “fluid,” the people said, so the implementation could change or the project could still be canceled.

Chances the rumor is true, according to the Sellers Research Group (that’s me): 80%. As I’ve speculated before, Apple’s desktop, laptop, and tablet line-ups will evolve into a merged form factor (or factors) that take the best elements of each with a user interface based on the best elements of macOS and iOS.

I think “Project Marzipan” is the start down this (admittedly long) road. Universal apps would make it easier for Apple to one day create a single operating system for all of its devices, should it ever go down that avenue. Also, such universal apps could offer another merger: the Apple App Store for iOS and the Mac App Store into one App Store.

The big question is — assuming the rumor is true — how tvOS, watchOS, and the rumored rOS (for augmented reality glasses) fit into this picture.