In case you aren’t aware, Marzipan is a program at Apple that is working to merge aspects of the iOS and macOS code bases over time, making life easier for developers. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman first reported on this initiative in late 2017 and Apple unveiled the beginnings of the program at the 2018 edition of WWDC. Right now, Marzipan is still in its infancy and has only been used by Apple internally to port a few iOS apps over to macOS Mojave.
According to a new report from Gurman, Apple is preparing to expand Marzipan to phase two this year. In 2019, the company will be releasing a new dev kit that will allow developers to port iPad applications to the Mac. While the apps will still have to be submitted to each store separately, only one codebase will have to be maintained for the app. This should open the door for lots of interesting iPad apps to make their way over to the Mac, greatly helping to beef up the much smaller Mac App Store.
In the future, Apple will expand the Marzipan program to include iPhone apps, likely in 2020. The eventual goal is for developers to be able to use not just a single codebase, but to make a single app binary that will work for all supported Apple devices. While this isn’t spelled out, it is also possible that both App Stores could be merged at this point, as well. According to Gurman, this will likely happen in 2021 if things stay on schedule.
One big distinction that needs to be kept in mind is that Apple is NOT merging iOS and macOS. Craig Federighi was very specific about this on stage at WWDC last year and I have no reason to doubt it. Marzipan is about making it easier for developers to quickly and easily port apps between the platforms, not erasing the line between them. If anything, Marzipan should help inject additional life into the Mac by bringing some of the creative apps for iOS over to the desktop, rather than doing away with macOS. In other words, Marzipan is very good news for Mac fans.
Gurman’s report also references how Apple’s hardware initiatives may tie into Marzipan. There have been plenty of rumors that Apple is looking to introduce a Mac, likely a MacBook, powered by an A-Series ARM processor in the near future. According to Gurman, this could happen as soon as 2020. It is not clear if the move to ARM is essential for the full implementation of Marzipan to work, which will end up being a key detail. A change away from Intel will likely be a gradual one, which could mean that Marzipan single binaries may only work for a portion of Mac users for a while.
These details will come in time, and chances are they will also come from Bloomberg and Mark Gurman. It will be interesting to see how it plays out and how Apple’s plans for hardware and software will end up coming together. Like most things with Apple these days, Marzipan will be a slow burn that will require a little patience before the payoff. However it works out, if the final result is as good as the rumors, it will be worth the wait.