This year, at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple is expected to expand the program for bringing iPad apps to the Mac, a multi-year project that started last year. The project is code-named & # 39; Marzipan & # 39; and this year we will see exactly how it works for developers. It is expected to be much more ambitious than what we have seen before, and we can discover that these apps, built with the UIKit framework from iOS instead of the traditional MacOS AppKit framework, can be much more elegant and Mac-like than they are now to be .
That's because they can't get much worse.
The current state of the Marzipan apps has caused little bewilderment in the Mac community. Not much is needed to see why: just open the Home app, shares, voice memos & Apple News app in macOS Mojave and you'll see that these apps are non-Mac-like in ways that are almost too be countless. There is no support for multiple windows, weird resizing bugs, thin hot key support and a look and feel that is clearly designed for touch rather than a mouse.
In our Mojave review, Jake Kastrenakes called them & # 39; half-baked & # 39 ;. John Gruber described them as & # 39;horrible""totally shitty, "And"terribly bad. "In a message with many of the reasons why these apps stink, Benjamin Mayo writes, "These are mediocre, bordering on bad experiences."
The apps are not good. I think Apple should make it more theirs.
I even think Apple should do more than double these iPad-like apps on the Mac. I think Apple should go all-in and make almost all consumer Mac apps with the new UIKit / Marzipan frameworks, including Mail, Notes, Messages, FaceTime, Photos, Reminders, and Calendar. Apple should just go for it, rather than later and ideally now.
My reasoning is pretty simple: whether you think these apps should be the future of macOS development, they definitely come in both directions, and Apple should make sure they're great. The surest way to improve iPad apps on the Mac is that Apple forces its own employees to use them and then fix them.
Unless Apple eats its own dog food from UIKit, apps built this way will always feel like second-class citizens on the Mac, as if they were first created for the iPad, which many of them are. Right now, the original four Marzipan apps feel like strange alien transplants that don't belong on a laptop. Unless Apple introduces work into its own apps to demonstrate best practices and learn where the problems are, those problems will continue to exist in everyone's apps. Apple must take the lead and show other developers how to do it right.
I also think Apple should do this development in public, with many ordinary people using it and submitting bug reports about them. It increases the pressure in a way that an internal private beta would never do. Even if these apps are released in beta, alongside existing apps, that would be better than updating them as quickly as possible.
I fear that Apple may be confronted with an analogous (though not parallel) dilemma that Microsoft has seen with its own Windows framework for the next generation. Called the "Universal Windows Platform", it was full of changes in direction and complaints that it was too restrictive. It took almost half a year before the company decided to do something phone call them. The worst of all is that UWP saw little adoption because developers were sticking to the old way of making apps. Now even Microsoft may not be a problem more committed to them. The best way to prevent that kind of confusion is to be clear and decisive from the start.
I am also hopeful (perhaps naive) that this new Mac framework will be powerful and flexible enough for many different types of apps. Take a look at some of Steve Troughton-Smith's experiments Posted on twitter. He has not only discovered that it is easy to port an iOS app to the Mac, but also that it might be easier than you think to make that app feel like a Mac.
I couldn't wait @marcoarment to redesign its user interface, so I hacked Overcast to use a three-column view on the Mac … Looks pretty cool! Everything done without access to the source code pic.twitter.com/4ZgY0hzbRl
– Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) May 2, 2019
Look, I understand: these new Marzipan apps are unlikely to feel as traditional as a Mac-like app. One of the Mac's greatest strengths has always been consistency and predictability in its user interface. Marzipan will interrupt that a bit. But I maintain that most computer owners are smarter than we serve them. They'll work it out. It is not that these new apps are very unknown, because they will look a lot like iPad apps!
By the way, these new iPad apps on the Mac will certainly feel more native than Electron apps. Electron, if you are unfamiliar, is a quick way to turn a web app into a desktop app. Chances are that you now use an Electron app in your workflow and you do not realize this. Slack is a good example, just like Simplenote. Electron apps are basically single-use browsers with a whole range of other codes entered. They can slow down and chew your computer through the life of your battery, because web browsers are not known to be particularly efficient. But Electron apps are easy to create and update.
I use Electron apps. I think a lot of them are great. I also use many web apps, with which you can separate a browser tab into an "app" that you can use Cmd-Tab through. I would say 80 percent of the time, I use my MacBook just like a Chromebook. I bet Apple hates that!
If nothing else, iPad apps can save the Mac from memory and processor-saving Electron apps. It would have the added benefit (for Apple, anyway) of having a number of people buy Mac apps in the App Store. There are many companies that maintain an iOS app, but have never bothered to create a Mac app, and perhaps now.
When those iOS developers want to create a Mac app, they need best practices to follow. Those practices should not be based on Apple's best estimate or the theories about how a Mac app should feel. They must be based on hard-won, real-world use by tens or hundreds of thousands of users.
That is why I hope that Apple will have the courage of its beliefs and is willing to release some of its own apps using this framework.
As WWDC approaches, I can't stop thinking of Phil Schiller's now notorious rule about removing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 in 2016. "It actually comes down to one word: courage. The courage to move on and to do something new that tolerates all of us. And our team has tremendous courage. "
In the following years, & # 39; courage & # 39; has become a dirty word, a shorthand to talk wisely about creating Apple products that make compromises for which no one has just asked in the name of progress. Three years later, the issue of headphone connection could be resolved for many, but it is still at least an annoyance for everyone every now and then.
If Apple followed my advice, the word & # 39; courage & # 39; certainly apply – probably with the same connotations as before. But for me, its valence would be reversed. In Apple & # 39; s world, & # 39; courage & # 39; making difficult decisions and leaving old legacies before they become albatrosses – even if it makes people uncomfortable. That is exactly what Apple should do with its Mac apps.
A "courageous" movement like this would be disturbing. Would it mean that & # 39; legacy & # 39; apps are second-class citizens on the Mac? Would there be a long interregnum of Mac app development during the transition? Would we be stuck with a years long period of two hugely different classes of apps on the Mac? Would it mean that Apple "keeps the Mac" stupid to make it look more like the iPad? Will UIKit apps really ever feel like they're on the Mac? Can they ever be powerful enough?
The answer to all these questions should be "no". And Apple is absolutely aware that people are worried about this. Craig Federighi had a somewhat famous WWDC moment last year when he reiterated that macOS and iOS will never "merge" with a giant slide that just said "No". But to get that answer, a long period of uncertainty and fear will be needed.
The best way to combat those concerns is that Apple has faith in its new frameworks, so much so that it is willing to build its most important Mac apps in this new way. That would take courage, but I hear that Apple has huge amounts of it.