Apple's announcement of MacOS 10.14 Mojave came with the news that a few of Apple's in-house iOS apps were being ported to Mac. The first four apps available on Mojave are Apple News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home. At WWDC 2018, Apple also said third-party developers could start porting their apps in 2019.
Download.com has reached out to several app developers and software consultants to see what they have planned for bringing iOS apps to Mac. The developers mentioned there's not much more information available regarding the porting timeline besides what we heard at the Apple event, but they have thoughts and plans nonetheless.
What are some potential benefits of porting iOS apps to Mac?
Entrepreneur and software developer Denis Bulichenko is particularly excited to see his PeakVisor app (iOS, Android) come to Mac. The app identifies mountains using AR technology and provides realistic 3D maps of the landscape. Porting the app to Mac would provide a larger screen for the maps.
Bulichenko said the mobile app is more designed for outdoor enthusiasts on the go, but having it on Mac would provide more computer power. Adding another platform would help explorers when planning a trip.
Marketcircle CEO Alykhan Jetha said one of the key benefits would be sharing more code between iOS and Mac. CEO of Omega Ortega, Tom Ortega, added to this sentiment. Ortega said that the native desktop experience could be extended to Mac without a separate code, merely repurposed.
"This same desire for native experiences will extend to desktops. What this technology allows is for developers/companies to leverage that native iOS codebase to create a compelling and engaging experience on the MacOS desktop," Ortega said.
What can users expect as far as cost?
Users might be wondering if an extra price tag will come with the newly ported apps. If you've already paid for an app once, it might be a deterrent if you have to pay for it again.
Ortega and Bulichenko agreed that a potential fee for a ported iOS app is contingent on how much value the app delivers to a desktop.
"[R]ight now there's not much industry knowledge and best practices. Everybody is going to figure out the best approach," Bulichenko added.
Jetha said that if an app charges a subscription fee, like PeakVisor, a Mac app extension should be included in the subscription price.
How difficult is it to port an iOS app to Mac?
The developers agree that the amount of labor that goes into porting an iOS app to Mac is contingent on the iOS app's complexity.
"That depends to some degree on the nature of the app, but at a minimum it requires developing an entirely new user interface, so that's generally a significant effort," Jonathan Lehr, About Objects co-founder said.
Bulichenko said some apps like PDF Viewer could be ported in a day. "In general, we tend to think, it will be much more laborious activity," he said.
"For simple, one purpose apps, it can fairly easy. For more complex apps, especially apps with a lot of different views, it can a real challenge," Jetha agreed.
What obstacles do you anticipate?
In a laborious process, challenges and difficulties can arise, which the developers say is true of porting an iOS app to Mac. Overall, creating a quality design and engagement are their biggest concerns.
"I think designing a good product is always the hardest part. And bringing a product to a new platform requires designing from the scratch. Most of the solutions from a mobile device won't work on the desktop," Bulichenko said.
Ortega addressed monitor real estate. He said putting an iOS app on a Mac screen means there's a lot more space to consider. Ortega also mentioned that making an iOS app available for Mac "removes the magic of touching the UI."
"It's no wonder to me that Instagram took off on mobile so well, when you realize that people are touching photos of friends and loved ones. That emotional connection between touch would not have been as strong if Instagram was launched on a desktop and so I think the success/market fit wouldn't have been as strong either," he noted.
Lehr said developing for Mac requires additional knowledge and experience, despite shared APIs and concepts with iOS.
"MacOS development requires understanding of the Mac's windowing environment and menu system, and mouse event handling differs in some important ways from touch event handling. In general, the event distribution system is richer on the Mac," he said.
We'll see what Apple does to ease some of these pain points when it releases its software development kit for porting iOS apps to Mac in 2019. Download.com will have more as details develop in the months ahead.
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- At WWDC 2018, Apple announced a select few iOS apps would be available with the launch of MacOS Mojave and developers will be able to port their iOS apps to Mac in 2019.
- Developers told Download.com that few details have emerged but they expect porting an app to Mac will vary in difficulty. Regardless, they say the key factors in a successful port of an app from iOS to Mac will be design, functionality, and engagement.
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