Apple Planning New Mac Catalyst Resources to Help Devs Create ‘Amazing Mac Experiences’

In macOS Catalina, Apple introduced Mac Catalyst, an initiative designed to make it simple for developers to port their iPad apps over to the Mac App Store with minimal work. Mac Catalyst is still new and developing, but its ultimate aim is to bring more apps to the ‌Mac App Store‌.

Following the launch of Catalina, macOS product marketing director Todd Benjamin spoke to CNET about Mac Catalyst, providing some insight into Apple's goals and the initial rollout of the feature.


Apple designed Mac Catalyst to let ‌iPad‌ developers use a single codebase and development team to create apps for multiple platforms. The feature, says Benjamin, is great for Mac users and developers alike.
"Our vision for Mac Catalyst was always to make it easier for any ‌iPad‌ app developer, big or small, to bring their app to the Mac. This allows them to leverage one codebase and one development team. Mac Catalyst gives ‌iPad‌ app developers a huge head start and for many, an opportunity to expand their reach onto the Mac platform that they may not have had before. Not only is this great for developers, but it's also great for Mac users, who benefit with access to a whole new selection of great app experiences from ‌iPad‌'s vibrant ecosystem."
Thus far, several major apps have been ported over to the Mac using the Catalyst feature. This includes GoodNotes 5, Twitter, Carrot Weather, Rosetta Stone, and more. Apple too has brought iOS apps to the Mac using Mac Catalyst, such as Find My, Podcasts, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home.

According to Benjamin, Apple is learning a lot from early adopters and plans to take their feedback into account when expanding Mac Catalyst in the future. Additional resources are in the works to help developers create "amazing Mac experiences."
For many of the early Mac Catalyst developers, it was their first time ever developing an app for the Mac, and it's amazing what they've been able to achieve in such a short time. We're learning a ton from these early adopters, and are planning additional resources and support to help them create amazing Mac experiences with Mac Catalyst."
CNET's full piece on Mac Catalyst, which includes details from developers who have created apps using the feature, can be read over on the CNET website.

Related Roundup: macOS Catalina

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Some Developers Facing ‘Several Problems’ Porting iPad Apps to the Mac With Catalyst [Updated]

One of macOS Catalina's biggest new features for developers is Mac Catalyst—initially known as Project Catalyst—which Apple says makes porting iPad apps to the Mac as easy as checking a box in Xcode.

However, more work is required for the iPad apps to truly resemble native Mac apps, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that some developers have encountered "several problems" with Catalyst so far.


For example, the report claims that James Thomson had to work harder than he expected to get his popular PCalc calculator app for iPad to run well on the Mac. Thomson said the Mac version initially "looked like an iPad app floating on a larger Mac screen," so he had to redesign much of the user interface.

Thomson added that some older Macs struggle to handle Catalyst-based apps that use Apple's high-level 3D graphics framework SceneKit.

Lukas Burgstaller, developer of the RSS reader Fiery Feeds for iPad, also "ran into all sorts of walls" trying to adapt the iPad app to the Mac interface using Catalyst, but the report does not mention any specific issues he faced.

On the consumer side of things, the report notes that Catalyst results in users paying twice for the same app across iOS and macOS.

"As a user, I don't want to pay again just to have the same app," well-known developer Steven Troughton-Smith told Bloomberg. "As a developer, I don't want my users to have to make that decision."

Troughton-Smith touched on some of the issues developers are facing with Catalyst, noting that Mac versions of some apps can't hide the mouse cursor while video is playing, or may have issues with video recording, two-finger scrolling, or using the keyboard and full-screen mode in video games.

The report adds that two upcoming Catalyst apps that had been featured on Apple's website since June were removed this week, including comic book app DC Universe and the racing game Asphalt 9. It is unclear if the Mac apps are no longer planned or delayed, or if any of the Catalyst issues reported were a factor.

DC Universe for Mac preview on Apple's website prior to being removed

Netflix also confirmed that it has no plans to develop a Mac app using Catalyst at this time, according to the report.

Despite all of this, Troughton-Smith believes Catalyst is the "future of Mac app development," and he is impressed with many of the first apps. There might just be a few growing pains along the way.

macOS Catalina was widely released on Monday.

Update: Gameloft says Asphalt 9 for Mac via Catalyst has been "slightly delayed" in order to "polish the experience" and that it will launch later this year, according to a follow-up tweet from Gurman.


This article, "Some Developers Facing 'Several Problems' Porting iPad Apps to the Mac With Catalyst [Updated]" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Craig Federighi on iPad’s Long-Awaited External Drive Support: ‘We’re Willing to Acknowledge the 1990s’

On the latest episode of the AppStories podcast, hosts Federico Viticci and John Voorhees sat down with Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi to discuss WWDC 2019 announcements, including Project Catalyst, SwiftUI, and iPadOS.

Craig Federighi at WWDC 2019

Project Catalyst will make it much easier for developers to extend iPad apps to the Mac. In many cases, adding macOS support to an iPad app is as easy as opening an Xcode project and clicking the Mac checkbox, although Apple encourages developers to further optimize their apps to offer a true Mac experience.

Federighi believes Project Catalyst will allow many developers to bring their iPad apps to the Mac, as Apple has bridged the gap between its UIKit framework for iOS apps and its AppKit framework for Mac apps:
UIKit and AppKit always remained these two separate worlds, and depending on what a developer did, they could build an app that was sort of factored in a way that they shared a lot of cross-platform code, but they had to always take that extra step of having people on the team that knew AppKit, people on the team that knew UIKit, and make the decision to specialize for those two. And for many developers, they chose one or the other and not both, because that was a real effort to get the expertise and to make the investment.
Project Catalyst

Federighi expressed excitement about Project Catalyst, noting that he has seen many apps that look fantastic on the iPad that he has wanted on the Mac. With macOS Catalina and Xcode 11, that is now a possibility, with Twitter being one of several companies that plans to extend their iPad app to the Mac.

He added that Project Catalyst gives Apple the "same kind of benefits of being able to have a single team that can focus on making one thing the best and release it across all of our platforms," which makes "a ton of sense" to the company.

SwiftUI

As for Apple's new SwiftUI framework, which enables developers to use easy-to-understand declarative code to create full-featured user interfaces, Federighi said giving developers a tool that is "that expressive and that interactive" is going to result in better ideas and thereby better apps moving forward:
SwiftUI will make development of UI more accessible to many people who maybe weren't approaching it before, and that's exciting, because we're already seeing some of that with Swift and Swift Playgrounds. But even for the most experienced of developers, giving them a tool that is that expressive and that interactive is going to mean they're going to build better things, they're going to try out better ideas, and that's going to result in better apps.
Turning to the new iPadOS platform, Federighi said that the iPad has "become something really distinct from the phone" over the years and, accordingly, was deserving of an operating system that provides a "distinct experience":
Things like Drag and Drop, Split View, Slide Over, Apple Pencil… these are things that really define a different way of working with the device. When I work on my iPad, I don't feel like I'm working on a big phone… or like I'm working on a Mac. I feel like I'm working on an iPad. What we mean when we say macOS, or when we say tvOS, which is an iOS-based platform, or when we say watchOS, which at its core is iOS, these things to us are definitions of experiences. There's a watchOS experience that's tailored for apps that make sense on your wrist. tvOS, a 10-foot UI that makes sense in that context. iPadOS has become a distinct experience. We've been working our way there steadily over time. With the work we did this year, we felt like we were at a place where this truly was a distinct thing.
iPads now fully support external drives

Humorously, Federighi also poked fun at the iPad's newly added support for external storage such as USB drives and SD cards:
External drives. We're willing to acknowledge the 1990s and go all the way back. You know, people still use them sometimes. I'm an AirDrop fan myself, but I understand there are other uses… we know with photographers, the ability to import their photos directly into an app like Lightroom is so important.
The full interview can be listened to on the AppStories podcast over at MacStories.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro

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iPad Apps Are Coming to the Mac With Apple’s Project Catalyst

While the Mac and iPad remain distinct products, Apple continues to bridge the gap between its desktop and mobile platforms. In 2014, for example, it introduced Continuity features like Handoff and Universal Clipboard that enable more seamless experiences across the Mac, iPad, and other Apple devices.

The next step in this process is Project Catalyst, which makes it much easier for developers to extend iPad apps to the Mac.


Starting with macOS Catalina and Xcode 11, developers can create a Mac version of an iPad app using UIKit, an Apple framework that until now was intended solely for iOS apps. Adding macOS support to an iPad app is as easy as opening an Xcode project and clicking the Mac checkbox under General > Deployment Info.

While the Mac version of the app should run after the box is checked, this is not always the case, as the Xcode project may contain code that no longer compiles due to frameworks, APIs, or embeddable content that is incompatible with the Mac, according to Apple's developer documentation:
Most iPad apps are great candidates for adaptation, but a few rely on iPad features that don’t exist on a Mac. For example, if your app's essential features require iPad capabilities like gyroscope, accelerometer, or rear camera, iOS frameworks like HealthKit or ARKit, or the app's main function is something like navigation, it might not be suited for the Mac.
Apple has instructions on how to remedy these compatibility issues.

iPad apps ported to macOS run natively on the Mac, utilizing the same frameworks, resources, and runtime environment as traditional Mac apps, according to Apple's developer documentation:
The Mac version of your iPad app supports many system features found in macOS without requiring any effort from you…

- A default menu bar for your app.
- Support for trackpad, mouse, and keyboard input.
- Support for window resizing and full-screen display.
- Mac-style scroll bars.
- Copy-and-paste support.
- Drag-and-drop support.
- Support for system Touch Bar controls.
Apple's updated Human Interface Guidelines are a helpful resource for designing and coding the ideal iPad app for Mac.

DC Universe is an example of a Project Catalyst app coming to Mac

If this all sounds familiar, it is because Project Catalyst is Apple's public-facing name for this initiative, which has been referred to by its internal name of Marzipan until now. Apple's plans to allow iOS apps to easily run on Mac were first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman over 18 months ago.

Apple provided us with a first glimpse of Project Catalyst when it brought the iPad versions of its Apple News, Home, Stocks, and Voice Memos apps to the Mac last year in macOS Mojave. Third-party developers are now able to follow suit in macOS Catalina, which will be released to the public in the fall.

Related Roundup: macOS Catalina

This article, "iPad Apps Are Coming to the Mac With Apple's Project Catalyst" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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