We have been hearing about Apple’s attempt to bring in a unified app platform for Mac and iOS devices from quite some time. Initially, the project was dubbed Marzipan and Apple finally named it Catalyst at the WWDC. The macOS Catalina comes with Project Catalyst and thus allows developers to port iOS apps to macOS seamlessly.
ArsTechnica spoke with stakeholders within Apple and app developers who have begun using Catalyst for their apps. The report is comprehensive in nature and gives us a better look at how the Project Catalyst works and the benefits it has to offer.
Ars interviewed Todd Benjamin, Apple’s senior director for marketing, Shaan Pruden, senior director of partner management and developer relations. That apart, third-party developers from Gameloft, TripIt, and Twitter were also interviewed at length.
In the interview, Benjamin Todd explained the nuances of transitioning an app from the iPad to the desktop.
Just design-wise, the difference between an iPad app and an iPhone app is that the iPad app has gone through a design iteration to take advantage of more screen space. And as you bring that app over to the Mac… you have something that’s designed around that space that you can work with and that you can start from.
Apple has been seen educating developers at the WWDC. The company has also outlined best practices for porting the app from iPad to the desktop. Todd Benjamin explains why Project Catalyst figures out in Apple’s list of priority.
We’re at a stage at this point now where developers have fully developed iPad apps, and there’s a great opportunity to take the work that they’ve done there, which not only leverages what they had done on iOS, but also takes advantage of screen space and some things that we can leverage nicely as we bring them over to the Mac.
Select developers have been able to use Project Catalyst and have successfully ported their apps to Mac. The list of apps includes Twitter, TripIT, and Asphalt 9. Gameloft’s graphics engineer Alex Urbano and software engineer Manu Ruiz shared their experiences porting Asphalt 9 to macOS.
The process was fairly simple—open the current iOS project on the new Xcode, mark the new macOS target option, and compile, Ruiz further added that “Obviously, it didn’t work on the first try as some of our libraries were not supported on non-mobile devices—motion controls for example—and some third-party libraries weren’t prepared for macOS and x86-64 platforms. That said, after refactoring some of the code, we managed to compile and run the entire Asphalt codebase in roughly 24 hours.”
Furthermore, the conversation covers all details including Project Catalyst’s core functions, the challenged faced by developers and also Apple’s two cents on SwiftUI.