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While Macs and the iPod may have pulled Apple from economic trouble in the late 90s and early 2000s, iPhones and their related services have been the company's major source of revenue for several years. Relative to the annual revenue produced in Apple's iOS division, its laptops and desktops are practically a side project, and MacOS has rarely enjoyed double-digit market share versus Windows.

So if you want to keep MacOS, Macbooks, and iMacs in the portfolio for the long haul (since they still generate billions of dollars every year), how do you do that in a way that doesn't make this section of the company feel like it's constantly playing second fiddle?

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According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple's plan may be to make iOS apps run on Macs, and vice versa, as part of a project known internally as 'Marzipan." And this wouldn't be something as modest as Microsoft's "Play Anywhere" program that lets you buy a game to play on either a Windows PC or the Xbox game console. Instead, the installation file itself would work interchangeably on either a Mac or an iOS device.

Apple reportedly does not plan to converge MacOS and iOS into a single, unified operating system -- but if an installer is compatible with two different operating systems, that indicates that there will substantial programming code overlap between the two platforms. One pre-existing example is Linux and BSD, the latter of which can run Linux apps despite not technically being based around the Linux "kernel."

MacOS itself contains a lot of technical DNA that's also found in BSD, and that's been the case ever since Apple cut over from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X in the early 2000s. So converting an operating system to handle multiple types of installer files would not be unfamiliar territory.

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Bloomberg estimates that the Marzipan project will be completed at some point in 2021, based on conversations with individuals who asked not to be identified. These sources also said that these plans were still in development, so certain details may change before Marzipan gets its official unveiling.

Apple has not publicly commented on its Marzipan roadmap, but Bloomberg indicates that we may get more information at the company's annual WWDC conference, which will happen this June in San Jose, California, according to MacRumors.

Takeaways

  • Bloomberg reports that Apple is planning a way to get iOS apps working on Macs, and vice versa, according to anonymous sources. This project, codenamed "Marzipan," would not be complete until 2021.
  • Apple has not officially provided a roadmap for this project, but we may get a full unveiling at its annual developer conference in June.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.