Questions Abound After Bloomberg Reports ‘Apple Plans Combined iPhone, iPad & Mac Apps’ »

Mark Gurman has posted a huge story to wind down a year of massive Apple leaks:

Starting as early as next year, software developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware, according to people familiar with the matter.

Developers currently must design two different apps — one for iOS, the operating system of Apple’s mobile devices, and one for macOS, the system that runs Macs. That’s a lot more work. What’s more, Apple customers have long complained that some Mac apps get short shrift. For example, while the iPhone and iPad Twitter app is regularly updated with the social network’s latest features, the Mac version hasn’t been refreshed recently and is widely considered substandard. With a single app for all machines, Mac, iPad and iPhone users will get new features and updates at the same time.

There is a lot to digest here, and a lot to think about. In a move this big, everything comes down to details:

  • How will iOS-first apps behave on the non-touch interface of the Mac?
  • Will developers work to make apps feel native regardless of platform, or will the Mac be overrun with sorta-janky ports of iOS apps?
  • Assuming this requires the Mac App Store, will Apple continue to adjust its stance to make it a more palatable solution for indie developers?
  • Will iPhone-only apps be approved for the Mac, or will supporting the iPad be a prerequisite for making the jump to the Mac?
  • Is Apple’s platform support wide and deep enough to overcome the issues Windows and Google have come up against with similar changes?
  • What work will developers have to do to prep their code bases to run on the Intel-CPUS that power Macs?
  • Is this the first step toward ARM-powered Macs? Or those with touchscreens?
  • Will these universal apps be a single purchase? Will developers lose their separate Mac and iOS revenue streams?

The biggest question is a simple one: Will this usher in a new era of great Mac apps, or is it the beginning of the end for the platform as we know it? Until we know more, everything seems up in the air.