Apple Announces Plan to Enable Simultaneous iOS and macOS App Development

February 22nd, 2019

Apple Announces Plan to Enable Simultaneous iOS and macOS App Development
David Bell

by David Bell

CEO at Gummicube, Inc.

Apple has announced a major change coming to the iOS and macOS App Stores. This will enable a way to create apps for both iOS and macOS simultaneously, as well as an easier way to port iOS apps to macOS. The company will begin developing and rolling out a new UIKit, which will let developers create a single app for mobile devices and computers by 2021. This initiative, code-named “Marzipan,” promises to be a major innovation for app developers and will also have a major impact on App Store Optimization.


According to Bloomberg, Marzipan is the name of a multi-step initiative with the end goal of letting developers build apps that can work on iPhone, iPad and Mac computers. While it is not expected to finish rolling out until 2021, Apple is already taking steps towards it.

First, Apple plans to let developers port their iPad apps to Mac computers via a new software development kit. While developers will still have to submit separate versions of the app to the iOS and Mac App Stores, the kit will enable them to build the app without having to write the underlying software code twice. It’s currently estimated for a June release at the earliest.

By 2020, the kit will be extended to iPhone applications, enabling them to convert to Mac apps in the same way. This will reportedly take longer than converting iPad apps due to the different screen sizes and touch controls.

Finally, Apple intends to enable developers to merge iPhone, iPad and Mac applications into a “single binary” app. Upon its completion, developers will be able to create and submit a single app to both the iOS and macOS App Stores at once, essentially combining the two stores.

While Apple has had plans for a similar initiative since 2017, this is the first step towards properly launching it. This also coincides with the company’s plans to transition Mac computers to use the same Apple processors that power iPhones and iPads, rather than Intel Corp. chips. However, iOS and macOS will not be combined into a single operating system.

What This Means for Developers & ASO

Being able to develop a single app for iOS and macOS makes software development more cost-effective for developers. While developers typically target iOS devices before thinking about macOS, being able to expand the potential audience to Mac users will open up new opportunities to reach users.

Additionally, developing an app that works across iOS devices and macOS computers can help enable a seamless user experience between computer and phone. It’s similar to how Apple uses iCloud to sync applications such as Notes and Photos, but the potential for device syncing can be useful for many apps that are currently available only on mobile devices.

While the iOS apps will still need to follow best practices for App Store Optimization, the interconnectivity between iOS and macOS apps can be a great selling point to emphasize in the description. Using a section to call out how an app can be used across devices can provide more incentives for users to download both iOS and macOS versions of the app, without the developer needing to create two versions.

App developers will also need to create macOS screenshots for their creative sets. This is similar to how they already have to create different screenshots for iPhone and iPad versions of an app, but it is still important for illustrating how the app looks and works on different devices.

Whether an app is available on iOS or macOS, it’s still essential to follow ASO best practices. Understanding Apple’s guidelines, targeting the right keywords and using optimal creatives will be essential to growth once this change is rolled out. When an app has multiple stores to compete on, it’s even more important that their store listings are fully optimized.

Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.

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