Project Catalyst - Death of macOS apps?

Discussion in 'macOS Catalina (10.15)' started by maflynn, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    So with Catalina mac users have the opportunity to run thousands of apps but what is the downside? Will developers be less inclined to write macOS apps and just stick with ios/ipados?

    Here me out, back in the day when IBM and Microsoft were duking it out with OS/2 and Windows, and there was no clear leader at the time. IBM made the huge misstep of allowing win32 apps to run on OS/2. Developers largely abandoned the platform and focused on windows. Granted there were other factors to the demise of OS/2 and IBM's inability in many areas doomed the OS. The point however is that developers did not embrace OS/2 since their windows apps ran.

    While I don't think apple/macos is doomed, I do think this may de-incentify developers to producing macos apps. I'm not talking about the pro apps, but mostly those smaller devs.
  2. crazy dave macrumors regular

    Sep 9, 2010
    Different situation. That was two competing companies with different platforms. The project catalyst updates supposedly allow developers to create apps the span the range of products made by the same company. Smaller developers were already largely focusing on iOS to the detriment of the Mac. If project catalyst is as advertised such that a few days effort (or less) is all that is required to transform an iPad app into a working Mac app, that makes it more likely that developers will spend the small bit of extra effort to make a Mac app if they weren't already using a tool set meant to make multi-platform development easier.

    Supposedly the resulting product is a native macOS app as much as any other. So it isn't really the same thing as OS/2 vs win32.
  3. playtech1 macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2014
    It is definitely a risk, but overall I think the upsides of a wider array of (admittedly less tailored) Mac OS apps is worth the risk.

    One of the biggest benefits is that it allows Apple itself to have a single team looking after both iPad and Mac apps, which hopefully means those apps will be updated more frequently and not left to get dusty as has so often been the case in the past.

    It also fits in with the narrative of Apple trying to converge iPads and MacBooks, which may never happen but I bet Apple wants to at least open the door to.
  4. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    I think there's a sufficient number of indie developers who would see any missing quality apps and create something to fill the void.
  5. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    I think it may also encourage developers to ditch Electron or Chromium if they have a functioning iOS app.

    Here’s hope that Apple will monitor how developers use Catalyst and improve upon it in the future, to avoid having weird “macified” iOS apps on macOS.

    Ultimately, Apple appears to be moving away from pure AppKit/UIKit coding and towards SwiftUI.
  6. lunarworks macrumors 68000

    Jun 17, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    I'd say it's the opposite. Those developers probably weren't writing macOS apps to begin with, and now they have incentive to port them.
  7. AustinIllini macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    IMHO, if you're building a Mac app, you're still using AppKit. If you're developing an iPad app and you want it to be usable on macOS, you can create a Marzipan app.

    Personally, I think this is great for the Mac overall.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 4, 2019 ---
    this. Anyone developing for mac only is still only developing for the Mac. Now iPad developers can port to Mac which is great.
  8. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    I personally think that current Mac apps won't change much, but we will see less complex apps ported to the Mac. Not that this is a bad thing - looking forward to having a Twitter app which is actually updated frequently now.

    I'm not sure how the distant future looks with SwiftUI. It's potentially great, but I worry that new apps will be made to the lowest common denominator. "Pro" apps equivalent to Photoshop and Logic probably will be alright, but I worry that we see a large-scale repeat of the iWork transition where a lot of useful features were lost in favour of macOS/iOS cross compatibility. We'll see. The fact that SwiftUI requires 10.15/iOS 13 I think will put this problem off for a few years at the very least. Just speculating here though, and I guess the same concern applies to new Catalyst apps.
  9. dumastudetto macrumors 68040

    Aug 28, 2013
    Undoubtedly in my mind the future of Mac is iPad, so I believe this will serve as a helpful bridge to prepare Mac users for the transition.

    Mac users will get more apps in the meantime so that's a good thing. But yeah, very few devs will spend time building pure macOS apps.
  10. albusseverus macrumors 6502a


    Nov 28, 2007

    I fear this is Apple's thinking. macOS is last century technology. It has been left for dead, on maintenance, adding some iOS features and handoff to keep it in the loop. Apple's focus is definitely iOS, it's a big market, but it's also a dumb market - no offence - the OS was built from the ground up for limited use, by people who don't want a computer. There's billions of them out there and that's fine - make devices and an OS that is faster, better quality and cheaper for this huge market.

    Apple's efforts to make iOS/iPadOS more computer-like fail at every turn because the OS isn't up to it. I don't care if the processors can edit 4k video, nobody who buys iPad wants to do that. Tech pundits and fundamentalists will try to, to prove a point, but it's never going to be in anybody's workflow for real.

    Apple's demonstrated some concern for getting back in front on the hardware front - iMac Pro (needs yearly updates, but on the right track), new Mac Pro obviously, and even iMacs are decent hardware. What Apple needs to do is put this kind of impetus into macOS (maybe give it touch & pencil support) and let the Pros & the rest of us get on computing in the 21st century.

    I just fear the dissolution of iTunes (instead of making it insanely great media library software) is the blueprint for macOS in general - give it feature parity with the brain-dead iOS apps and pat ourselves on the back for saving all that work. If Apple doesn't have any macOS developers anymore, that's their fault…
    • for not nurturing a flourishing Mac development workplace inside the company
    • and not making macOS attractive, by excluding touch&pencil

    Mac and particularly macOS ills are entirely of Apple's making - through deliberate neglect. So much for every hardware platform should justify its existence at Apple. Mac has been tossed on the back-burner and not allowed to compete. Maybe it's like Adobe has to force its developers to make the Windows versions first, because they'd rather work on the Mac versions. Apple focuses on iOS, the brain-dead OS, and lets Mac & macOS languish - because if Mac had touch&pencil, nobody would want to work on iOS!!
  11. TrenttonY macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2012
    The App Store for Mac, has been already dead for years. This will bring life into it.
  12. Janichsan macrumors 68000


    Oct 23, 2006
    Project Catalyst will bring quantity, not necessarily quality. If you paid intention to what Catalyst does and does not, you might have noticed that many important aspects which make a good Mac app - including a good, desktop adapted UI - still require work from the developers.
  13. TrenttonY macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2012
    Well then those developers can still put their amazing effort in to their apps. And if they stop you should complain to them that they're being lazy.
  14. MrGunnyPT macrumors 6502


    Mar 23, 2017
    I think it will depend on whether it's a Mac only app or not, for example NightOwl which we use to control Dark Mode and Light Mode.. It wouldn't make sense for it to be a Catalyst app..

    However something like Wipr which is an anti ad block for both iOS and MacOS would make sense.
  15. maflynn thread starter Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I was watching the Waht the Tech podcast and about 22:00 to 23:10 Thurrott mentions what I was thinking, that many developers may forgo making a macOS app and stick with iPad.

    Will this bad? I don't know, but if apple is moving to ARM, then getting iPad apps to run, is a step in that direction.
  16. Ritsuka macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2006
    I think Catalyst is just a stop gap. The new UI framework SwiftUI can run the same code easily on macOS/iOS/tvOS/watchOS, but with the native UI of the platform. It will be much better than Catalyst.

    ARM has got nothing to do with this. There is nothing preventing macOS on ARM or running AppKit or ARM.
  17. maflynn thread starter Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    imo, there is something that preventing Apple from using ARM on the Macs - Apps and this will easily allow apple to pivot macOS onto ARM and provide a large inventory of apps being available on day one.
  18. StellarVixen macrumors 68000


    Mar 1, 2018
    Yeah, death of Mac apps if you are happy to have stretched iPad apps that are built for touch screens, not mouse. (See: and

    I do not see it happening. Some iPad apps might be ported for Mac, but most of the apps will be written exclusively for Mac, because Mac is different beast.
  19. TrueBlou macrumors 68040


    Sep 16, 2014
    For the foreseeable future I think there’s still going to be no shortage of MacOS apps. Developers who make MacOS apps now aren’t necessarily going to ditch that just because of catalyst. There’s still going to be things you can do with a purely MacOS app that won’t be applicable to iPadOS.

    Personally I like the idea. I’ve made iPad apps in the past which I’ve often thought of doing a Mac version of, but really just couldn’t be bothered, it was too much extra work.

    With catalyst I’d be more inclined to make the jump to Mac as well. There’s much less work involved now, even taking the time to make the Mac app look and work like an actual Mac app.
  20. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    If you listen to Craig Federighi interviews on AppStories and Daringfireball, you’ll see it’s exactly the opposite. It is just the framework that will allow for the same codebase between platforms and let design teams create native, truly Mac apps with less work.

    Developers will be more inclined to write macOS apps. We’ll be soon getting true, native Mac apps that we wouldn’t get otherwise, like the excellent Overcast - finally.

    If anything, with things like Catalyst and Sidecar, and with pro hardware too, Apple demonstrated that Mac is going to have a long and healthy future. It’s an exciting time to be a Mac and iOS user, for sure.
  21. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

    Jul 4, 2015
    There will be at least 10 more years of Intel as Apple is still developing Intel machines that won't be listed as vintage for a long time. ARM will be suitable for portable Macs that need maximum battery life.
  22. AustinIllini macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I think they have to be really careful about how they deploy ARM Macs. The retina MacBook feels like an obvious place to start, but I'm not sure Apple can easily replace the Core i9 with an Apple chip just yet.
  23. zilchfox macrumors newbie


    Jun 30, 2015
    Atlanta, GA
    I think it's wonderful. The main purpose of this is to save developers time and money on making macOS apps, and being able to develop your app to run across the entire Apple ecosystem is a massive benefit to the dev, and a great way to keep feature parity across all devices, too. This may also incentivize devs to bring a lot more powerful features to iOS/iPadOS, too, since they won't need to re-write an entire app just for those platforms if they were intending to only do macOS itself (e.g. I have my suspicions that the new upcoming Photoshop is actually going to use Project Catalyst).
  24. Kimcha macrumors regular

    Feb 19, 2012
    Native mac apps have already started to decline in favor of electron apps. Electron apps are web-apps and each of them essentially runs its own chrome version. Examples are Spotify, Skype, slack, Notion, VSCode and a lot more.

    Companies ALREADY don't want to dedicate a lot of effort to create native apps for the Mac, but they are forced to create native apps for iOS.

    So this will helpful motivate these companies to use Catalyst instead. Electron apps are quite horrible, use a ton of Ram, don't feel native, use more battery...
  25. Superhai macrumors 6502


    Apr 21, 2010
    I think there are more benefits than not. This is not some emulation or virtualization to achieve cross-compability. There are so many calls, methods and functions which are almost the same in UIKit and AppKit that this should have been done long time ago.

    This is a native API on the Mac, it is easily extendable to make iOS apps as advanced as the developer wants. I think this will incentivize more native apps for MacOS than it will dis incentivize.

    As for ARM vs x86 CPU, there is absolutely nothing in this which would make a difference. It is the device form factor, not internal chipset which defines the differences in iOS/iPadOS/macOS. You are still able to make assembly calls in a catalyst app, so in that regard catalyst could hamper than benefit a transition.

    But most developers write their apps in pure high level programming languages, the native macos API and frameworks from Apple I am sure are already complete in their labs, and custom third-party frameworks will in most cases be more or less ready at launch as most have an iOS equivalent, or is also only in pure swift or objc.

    The ARM transition will be rather painless when it comes to the software side. What's holding back is hardware powerfullness and drivers.

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30 June 4, 2019