Apple is moving forward on convergence. But if the tools are perfected, the distribution mode is not yet suitable for all developers.
Convergence, you said convergence ? In recent years, this is a word that we hear more and more in the mouths of speakers Apple. Between the iPad Pro and the MacBook universe, the border is shrinking year after year. And what is true in the uses begins to be in the applications: WWDC 2019, Apple announced the opening to all developers of its experiment Catalyst, with a public availability for the release of macOS Catalina. To put it quickly, Catalyst is a way presented as Dedicated to provide simple thing to bring iOS apps into the Mac universe. Apple uses it for some applications, like House or Reminders that share the same source code.
But there, Catalina is out and the avalanche of iOS applications on macOS did not happen - we count 24. Some are planned, like Twitter, which intends to seize the opportunity to return to macOS with an application native. But others just will not come, like Netflix who announced that the application was not on the program for now. Bloombergdevelopers have shown difficulties in wear apps. A finding shared by a senior developer for Numerama who worked on an integration of this type, preferring to remain anonymous: " The conversion is impressive, but that's not all. It requires work and many adjustments ».
These results were anticipated. We could not imagine software that could rewrite code without leaving any errors or intelligently adapting the interface - which should not be the same in touch or with a cursor. But this does not explain everything. The problem of Catalyst at the time of the release of macOS Catalina is more fundamental and comes directly to the way the apps are distributed.
Two too distinct apps
Today, when a developer creates an app for the Apple ecosystem, he encapsulates its code in the same "folder" that groups the different versions of the application: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, etc. This allows to have a similar operation, shared metadata, the same frequency of update and most importantly, a single application to buy if necessary. Apple ecosystem requires, if a version of the app you buy on your iPhone is available on Apple TV, it will be automatically installed.
Catalyst does not add a Mac version of this universal application. It turns the iOS app into a Mac application. This means that there is a whole other submission process to be included in the Mac App Store. And that's where it gets stuck: it's a different application. If it pays, the user will have to buy it twice. If an in-app payment is purchased on one side, it will not be transferable to the other side. If the app is installed on iOS, it will not be present on macOS automatically.
Worse: the day that Apple will finish its idea of convergence, users who have installed the app "Catalyst" will end up with a second application "native and universal" to install, which will be the only official, the other being suddenly depreciated. A formality for a seasoned person, but imagine now communicating this to the general public: it should almost open a dedicated service. We understand that Netflix does not risk it.
A medium term solution?
One of the solutions Apple could offer is support transparent for the user a Mac application in "universal" application the day it will be available. For our source, this would be a positive sign and would unblock the situation, but Apple has not yet communicated on such a device. Since then, many developers, especially for popular applications, are in a waiting phase at the exit of the new macOS.
« This is not a surprise, because everything was in the public documentation », We are confirmed. If the subject is treated today and goes into the spotlight, it's because Catalina came out and the users who followed the ads may have been more excited about this feature. Today, it is difficult to advise to buy (often expensive) an application twice: Apple the well said, the future will be more and more convergent between its platforms. The "when" and the "how" remain to be elucidated.