Image: Apple

Despite the wealth of software available for Macs, Apple’s desktop app store largely feels abandoned, as many of the important apps you might actually want are more readily obtained directly from the developer. However, after years of theorizing and speculation, Apple is reportedly trying to bridge the gap between its desktop and mobile stores, by enabling developers to create a single app that would be compatible with both platforms.

This news comes from a Bloomberg report, which claims the secret project, codenamed Marzipan, is a major part of Apple’s 2018 software roadmap. Bloomberg says the initiative could be announced as early as summer 2018 at WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference, before being released to the public as part of iOS and macOS updates in the fall.

The move was reportedly designed to remedy the current state of Apple software development, which requires programmers to create separate macOS and iOS versions for each of Apple’s two platforms. This sucks up resources and often means that one version of an app lags behind the other in terms of features. Currently, Bloomberg says it’s still unclear whether Apple will ever combine the macOS and iOS App Stores into a single entity.

By providing the framework for apps that could run on both mobile and desktop systems, Apple would follow similar moves by Microsoft and Google, which have created their own cross-platform apps. On the Windows side, the Microsoft Store allows developers to create UWP apps (Universal Windows Programs) that can run on Windows 10, Xbox, and the now defunct Windows 10 Mobile. Meanwhile in Android land, Google has been trying to bulk up Chrome OS by giving users full access to Android Apps via the Play Store.

Unfortunately, neither Microsoft’s nor Google’s efforts appear to have to done much to prop up the UWP or Chrome OS ecosystems, so it’s hard to say how successful Apple would be. That said, seamless integration has long been a major selling point for Apple products, and Project Marzipan could at the very least give the Mac App Store a boost.

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[Bloomberg]