Categories: iOS / Mobile Apps

As developers of mobile apps, we’ve grown used to the necessary evil of crafting separate apps for iPhones, iPads and iMacs. But news from Apple HQ suggests all that is set to change.

Beginning as early as fall 2018, a single app will be able to serve all Apple devices. That’s great news for dev teams – and great news for client budgets. After all, Microsoft and Google have long offered apps that span multiple devices, including PCs, Xboxes and Chromebooks.

So what are some of the benefits we’re likely to see from Apple’s new universal app policy?

Users will be able to update mobile apps across all devices

Mobile app updates can push to all devices.

Now app updates can push to all devices.

Devs are used to pushing frequent updates for mobile apps. And users are used to making those updates. As a result, apps used on mobile devices tend to be the most up-to-date – and the most frequently updated.

Apps for Macs tend to lag a little. Users are less likely to want to update and restart. On top of that, Mac app updates tend to be rolled out on a different schedule. That means that app updates are received at different times.

Combining multiple apps into one will streamline this process. It will also minimize cross-device bugs and hiccups.

Devs won’t be scrambling to play catchup

Apple users have no chill when it comes to updating iOS. That means the second an update is rolled out, devs are working overtime to update all versions of an app to make sure that it meets new versioning requirements.

The new all-in-one approach will take some of the pressure off devs. Updates will be pushed across all devices at once – and so will app updates. That means less guesswork and less midnight oil being burnt.

We’ll get to see Apple OS platforms grow together

Could this spell the end of multiple App stores?

Could this spell the end of multiple App stores?

No longer will iOS and MacOS be separate entities. The two now have the potential to grow together at the same pace. Or to evolve even faster, which is a distinct possibility now that there are fewer competing priorities and resources involved.

There’s even the possibility that we’ll see the different App stores merge together as one. After all, what’s the incentive to keep running two versions of what’s essentially the same thing?

The outcome would be a more unified, coherent experience for users. Plus, it offers new opportunities for the Mac ecosystem, which would receive a crossover boost from iOS.

Are there any downsides to the all-in-one approach?

Expect to see some compromise. At this point we don’t quite know whether this new “unity” will be more in the end result or under the hood.

If the former, users will have to compromise a bit. After all, an iPhone isn’t a Watch isn’t a Mac. When you design for all devices, you’re going to end up hitting somewhere in the middle rather than delivering a perfect experience. As we’ve seen with the Watch, it’s easy in cross-device development to get a design that feels like it was made for some other device entirely.

If the latter, devs will probably still have to do a bit of design and development for separate-seeming apps. Unity is great in theory, but we still want to ensure that we’re designing a frictionless experience – and that means taking into account the device we’re working with.

Stay tuned, because we’re sure there’ll be more to come on this topic!

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