Apple is reportedly nearing the end of a project to make developing apps for its many devices far easier. Like Google’s Project Fuchsia, the goal is to make it possible to write a single piece of code capable of running apps on mobile or desktop interfaces. The initiative is code-named “Marzipan” and it’s expected to save developers time and incentivize the creation of far more apps, which should then lead to more revenue for Apple.
Marzipan will be fully functional by 2021, but Apple will begin partially rolling it out in 2019, according to a Wednesday Bloomberg report. The notable Apple reporter Mark Gurman cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter who said that the software tool will be released in three waves.
As early as June of this year, the Cupertino-based company will begin allowing developers to consolidate iOS code for iPads into applications for macOS and vice-a-versa. They’d still need to submit two versions of the app, but they wouldn’t need to rewrite its fundamental code. This initial kit could be announced during Apple’s 2019 Worldwide Developer Conference, which was leaked to be taking place in San Jose, California the week of June 3.
The next step would be to allow Mac apps to be converted into iPhone format (and vice versa). Gurman’s reporting reveals that this aspect of Marzipan is what’s giving Apple engineers the most trouble because of how much smaller iPhone displays are compared to Mac screens.
By 2021, the goal is that Marzipan should be able enable code for a single app that will work on iPhones, iPads, and Macs, no conversion needed. This would effectively merge the iOS and and macOS App Stores into a single software marketplace.
Marzipan will immediately benefit independent developers and large companies that currently need to continuously optimize various versions of the same app. But it could also been seen as another step toward what could be reasonably viewed as a software-first approach by Apple to make up for certain lagging hardware sales.
Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings call affirmed that the golden age for the iPhone has come to an end and it has since shown signs of shifting priorities. It’s widely expected to hone in on its growing services business by launching subscription news and entertainment streaming services this year. Apple takes a cut of many app-related purchases on its platforms, so making it simpler for coders to publish more apps could set off a virtuous cycle. This is a similar tactic that one of Apple’s biggest competitions is also working on.
Google has also been rumored to be developing a unified operating system, titled Fuchsia, which would merge its mobile and desktop platforms. This strategy is fundamentally different from Marzipan’s, because it would create an all-in-one operating system that would merge Android and ChromeOS. Marzipan, on the other hand, would leave iOS and macOS intact while letting them share apps.”
Apple fans have long asked for compatibility between its operating systems. It looks like the company could begin delivering on this capability sooner than expected.