Apple seeking to combine gadget apps by 2021 goal

CODE NAME ‘MARZIPAN’::The firm plans to offer a new software development kit to help designers create apps that can work on its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers


Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 11

Apple Inc wants to make it easier for software coders to create tools, games and other applications for its main devices in one fell swoop — an overhaul designed to encourage app development and, ultimately, boost revenue.

The ultimate goal of the multistep initiative, code-named “Marzipan,” is by 2021 to help developers build an app once and have it work on the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers, people familiar with the effort said.

That should spur the creation of new software, increasing the utility of the company’s gadgets.

Each new app is another revenue opportunity for Apple, because it takes a cut of many app-related purchases and subscriptions. The company has positioned its services division as a major growth area.

It plans at the end of next month to announce two new services: a premium Apple News subscription offering and an original video content initiative, Bloomberg News has reported.

Later this year, Apple plans to let developers port their iPad apps to Mac computers via a new software development kit that the company would release as early as its annual developer conference in June.

Developers would still need to submit separate versions of the app to Apple’s iOS and Mac App Stores, but the new kit would mean they do not have to write the underlying software code twice, the people familiar with the plan said.

Apple plans to expand the kit next year so that iPhone applications can be converted into Mac apps in the same way.

Apple engineers have found this challenging because iPhone screens are so much smaller than Mac computer displays.

By 2021, developers would be able to merge iPhone, iPad and Mac applications into one app, or what is known as a “single binary.” This means that developers would not have to submit their work to different Apple App Stores, allowing iOS apps to be downloaded directly from Mac computers — effectively combining the stores.

The plans are fluid and could be altered, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private matters.

A spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple declined to comment.

The most direct benefit of the Marzipan project would be to make life easier for the millions of developers who write software for Apple’s devices.

For example, later this year Netflix Inc would be able to more easily offer a Mac app for watching video by converting its iPad app. By 2021, Twitter Inc, which has mostly abandoned the Mac, could publish a single app for all Apple customers.

Apple previewed the apps plan, without disclosing the road map, at its developers conference last year.

Bloomberg News first wrote about the initiative in 2017.

The work coincides with the company’s preparations to merge more of the underpinnings of its hardware.

Currently, iPhones and iPads are powered by Apple processors, while Macs use Intel Corp chips. Apple plans to start transitioning some Macs to its own chips as early as 2020, Bloomberg News reported last year.

Despite the app merger plan, Apple has said that it would not combine iOS and macOS into a single operating system.