Appsolutely Ridiculous: Deriding iPad-Mac app compatibility

by Uluroo — 1 February 2018

In an exciting development, a(nother) rumor has hit the information superhighway: Apple plans to allow iPad apps to run on Macs sometime this year. This would boost the power of the Mac App Store and make it easier for developers to create cross-platform, code-once-and-done apps that—

Yuck, no thanks.

Someone disagrees! Sound the alarm! (This alarm is broken due to overuse.)

Writing for Mashable, Raymond Wong scolds, "Putting iPad apps on Mac is a silly idea."

So silly. Why, exactly?

... now Axios says Apple's still on track to bring iPad apps to Macs this year. No mention of iPhone apps running on Mac. Just iPad apps.

So your annoyance is based off a rumor, and that rumor actually cites another rumor that mentions iPhone apps as well. The rumor from Axios was vague about the fate of iPhone apps on Macs this year; it only directly mentioned iPad apps, but it didn't say that iPhone apps aren't going to make the cut. The original Bloomberg report, which Raymond happily ignores, did specifically mention iPhone apps.

Which brings us to iPad apps on Mac. Who needs them? It's not like Macs are starving for apps like Chrome OS is.

Raymond was talking about how because Chrome OS is largely web-based, Android serves as its source for native apps. So why should the Mac run apps from iOS if no one needs them? We'll get into that in a minute.

There are tons of Mac apps, like Microsoft Office, iMovie, and Adobe Lightroom, with way more features than their watered-down versions on iPad. Why would anyone want fewer features on a computer platform that's designed to help you do more? It doesn't add up.

It's pretty safe to assume that the iPad apps will pretty much be copied and pasted over to macOS and no, no, no. Uluroo assumes that, when designing iOS-and-macOS-compatible apps, developers will be given some way to get around this problem. Maybe they'll be able to have a tweaked UI for Macs. It seems to Uluroo that the Mac-compatible iPad apps will have a trigger in the code that changes the interface when the app runs on a Mac.

Of course no one wants to port an iOS app to the Mac. But that's not exactly what would be happening. It's absurd to say that the apps will remain exactly the same throughout the transfer to macOS.

A good iPad app is one that embraces the advantages and limitations of a touchscreen. Does Angry Birds work with a mouse? It sure does, but it plays better on a touchscreen. Similarly, iMovie, with all of its precise controls and settings, is better suited for a mouse and keyboard than using your chubby fingers.

First of all, Raymond is misrepresenting what apps will be the target for macOS compatibility. Obviously Angry Birds is better on a touchscreen, but with the right optimizations — and optimizations will certainly be available to developers — an app can work for both. Uluroo thinks that if Apple does add platform cross-compatibility (remember, this is just a rumor), it'll mostly be to allow developers to have a single code base that runs on iOS and macOS, not a single interface. That's what will allow the Mac App Store to be resurrected.

What boggles me the most is that iPad apps are reportedly planned for Mac this year, but not iPhone apps.

Because you misinterpreted a report that didn't mention anything about iPhone apps. That is not evidence, that's speculation.

Raymond lists the top five "free paid" (whatever that means) iPad apps of 2017: YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Messenger, and Chrome.

Not a single one of these needs an Mac app — all of them work just fine in your desktop browser. I suppose Netflix would be better as a Mac app because then you'd be able to download videos to watch offline, but other than that, there's no reason it needs an app.

This is ridiculous. Why does Raymond assume that these would be the target apps for Mac compatibility? And why does he imagine that he knows what a Mac app would look like, how good it would be, for any of them? There are plenty of apps on the App Store that could use Mac apps, but Raymond is looking at five of them — the ones that clearly aren't the apps for which Apple would encourage cross-compatibility — and pretends that's enough to make iPad apps a "silly idea." What kind of reporting is this? It's half-speculation, half-assumptions, and half-unfounded arguments (150% capacity for ridiculousness). Even if the top five or so iPad apps don't need Mac compatibility, that isn't a reason to ignore the apps that could benefit from it.

Definitely fix the Mac App Store and give developers a reason to sell their apps on there, but don't just shoehorn iPad apps on the Mac and declare it "mission complete."

Which is definitely what Apple would be doing.