Apple Marzipan could mean the end of macOS. Because it sure ain’t going to spell the end of iOS! Apple Marzipan is a project to bring iOS apps to macOS and perhaps vice versa. Marzipan was first shown at the Apple Developers conference in 2018.
Fast forward to 2019 and rumours are flying thick and fast that a new XKit will supersede iOS UIKit and macOS AppKit and Apple Marzipan is coming at the June 2019 Apple WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference).
Without getting technical iOS and macOS are both Unix based.
iOS works on ARM processors has touch,
multi-finger gestures and support for no screen to a larger screen (Apple TV, iPhone
to iPad). macOS works on Intel processors and has no touch capabilities.
iOS has around 2 million apps. It is the only way to get an
app onto an iPhone unless you have Jail broken
the iPhone. The app store is amazing business
macOS app store, sorry programs store, launched with about 1000
and has grown steadily to around 7,000. Mid-last
year a huge number were removed for failing
to support 64-bit only programs. macOS still allows programs directly from the developer sidestepping its Gatekeeper. That
is very similar to Windows Store and apps from developers.
So why the move to allow iOS apps onto macOS and perhaps vice versa?
macOS users have long lamented that so many of the single purpose iOS apps are not on macOS. We
estimate that is nearly 2.2million!
Allowing more iOS apps over is a good move although the success
of this will depend on the transition of multi-point touch to mouse.
Allowing macOS (Intel
x86) programs onto iOS (ARM) it more problematic. Putting the need for faster processors,
more memory etc – many could never run on
iOS. Most of these programs were never written
with touch in mind.
Enter the Universal framework – Marzipan
Apple says it is not using an emulator. These UIKit apps are
running in a native environment on top of a native stack.
Developers say any commercial implementation of Marzipan will
rely on a set of APIs and an emulator to run macOS programs on ARM or vice versa.
This is similar to the Windows on Arm
movement and the always-on PC powered by
Qualcomm. Or even closer to home – the hugely
unsuccessful Universal Windows apps platform movement.
The question. Will it benefit Mac or spell the end of it?
Speculation is fun. I have lost count of the number of times
I have read that Apple Macs will move to its A-series chip. Apple state the A12
is powerful enough, and then there is the
A13. Apart from anything else an ARM chip costs a fraction of the equivalent power
Developers state the time and cost of rewriting macOS to
support ARM and touch would be prohibitive – even for Apple.
And Apple likes to control its Silicon. At present Intel
CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs largely restrain it.
If Apple wants to do something different,
it has to convince the Wintel camp that this is good for all. If it controlled silicon, it could conceivably come up with
faster, cheaper, better processors – just as it has done for iPhones and iPads.
More likely Apple will do this slowly.
“By 2021, Apple wants developers to be able to submit a single binary to the App Store that will house the necessary business logic and interface code to deploy onto iPad, iPhone and Mac.”
At present iPhone/iPad users cannot use their apps on a laptop
– that is a gaping hole in Apple’s business.
What you need is a new breed of ARM-based iPads with keyboards and mouse – iPowerPads – powerful
enough to run most macOS apps. Over time the distinction between touch and no
touch will become a no-brainer, and traditional
Mac sales will die.
It’s not trite to say that
Touch Windows devices like the Surface Pro and Book and many other bands and
models are eating Mac’s lunch. Apple does not like that.
It might also bring Steve Jobs’s desire to fruition, “I’ve
always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do.”
Marzipan is not just about Apple’s walled garden and keeping
users in it. It’s about Apple ARM
processors in Mac.