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Apple says you can port iOS apps to the Mac next year

Apple is going to enable developers to move iOS mobile apps over to the Mac. The capability will be available to developers in 2019.

From a technical standpoint, the two platforms have shared common foundations in media, core services, and the core OS layer, said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering. Developers also use the same Apple Xcode IDE and Swift language to develop apps for both platforms.

But the UIs and the frameworks underneath the two platforms are different. So porting an app from one to the other requires work, and Apple wants to make this much easier. As a start, the UIKit framework from iOS has been brought over to MacOS. Framework capabilities from iOS have been adapted to specific Mac behaviors, such as the use of the trackpad and mouse, window resizing, and integration of capabilities such as copy and paste and drag and drop.

Apple has been testing iOS-to-Mac migration itself, with some of Apple’s own iOS apps brought over to the Mac, including the Home, News, Stocks, and Voice Memo. Like the Windows Mobile apps that Microsoft brought to Windows 10 several years ago, these apps are extremely simple, more widgets than the kinds of apps many developers—including Apple—create for iOS.

Apple has long codeveloped sophisticated apps for iOS and MacOS, including its Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, GarageBand, and Photos. So have other develoeprs like Microsoft, whose Office suite runs on iOS and MacOS, as well as on Windows and Android.

While praising the synergies between the company’s mobile and desktop platforms, Federighi emphasized that iOS and MacOS would not be merged into a single platform.

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