Apple usually waits until its annual Worldwide Developers Conference to make huge App Store changes, but software Christmas came early this year. The company just announced that effective March, devs can offer one app across all platforms. If you buy an app in the iOS App Store, you won’t have to buy a separate version of the app to work on your Mac.
The move seems to be a continuation of Project Catalyst, an initiative announced at last year’s WWDC that made it easier for developers to port their iOS apps to the desktop. It’s a far cry from the unified operating system that many Apple watchers have long dreamed of (alongside a touchscreen Mac), but it could make developers’ lives easier.
Devs are pumped, to put it mildly. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith noted on Twitter that universal purchases had been rumored to be two years out still. Troughton-Smith said that he would have to “start over on a few things” but that Apple “chose the right thing to focus on” ahead of WWDC.
While the change could hurt the pockets of some developers, who charge separately for apps made for iOS, iPad OS, and macOS, it will likely save the rest of us some money. Premium apps with up-front costs or monthly subscriptions won’t require double payments for use on the iPhone and Mac (or iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV).
We’ll likely see more cross-platform unification at this year’s WWDC, which we expect will be the first week of June in San Jose, as it usually is. But don’t hold your breath for that touchscreen Mac.