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Apple’s Catalyst Project

Apple’s Catalyst Project

When Apple unveiled macOS Catalina at WWDC this month, one related announcement conveyed significant interest from Mac consumers and developers alike: a new way to turn iPad apps into completely native Mac apps.

Dubbed Project Catalyst, it vowed to increase the number of high-quality native applications on the Mac platform by leveraging developers existing work in the arguably more robust iOS (and now, iPadOS) app ecosystem. Nevertheless, it does raise questions: what does this mean for Mac users’ future experiences? Will this change the kind of software made for Macs? Is Apple’s ecosystem a mobile-first one?

Then there are developer interests: is Catalyst just a stepping stone to SwiftUI? What responsibilities can devs expect when adapting their iPad apps for the Mac?

Ars spoke with the members of the Apple staff accountable for developing and promoting Project Catalyst, as well as with a handful of application developers who have already made Mac applications this way. We asked them about how Catalyst project works, what the future of Apple software appears like, and what users can expect.

The Mac is a popular platform amongst developers, creatives, and beyond. However while the iPhone and iPad App Store have thrived as one of the industry’s most vibrant software ecosystems, the Mac App Store hasn’t gained the same level of traction or significance, despite the presence of powerful applications that aren’t available on mobile.

Apple finds to funnel some of its success with the iOS App Store over to macOS using Catalyst. We will go over how developers use what Apple has built step-by-step, in addition to what hurdles they faced. And we will share Apple’s answers to our questions about how the organization plans to maintain a high standard of quality for Mac applications as an influx of mobile-derived apps hits the platform, what Apple’s long-term plans for cross-platform apps throughout the whole ecosystem look like, and more.

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