No Cross-platform App Development Platform from Apple Until 2019

iMac Pro, iPhone X, and Xcode

Don’t count on seeing Apple’s rumored unified app platform at Worldwide Developer Conference this year. Any announcement for the so called Project Marzipan will most likely come in 2019.

iMac Pro, iPhone X, and Xcode
Apple’s unified code platform isn’t coming this year

A report from late last year said Apple is working on some sort of hybrid macOS/iOS app platform. Details on Apple’s plans were slim, leading to speculation that the company wants to make apps that run on macOS and iOS from a single bundle.

[Apple Has Plans for Unified Mac, iPhone, and iPad Apps]

I hypothesized that Apple was working on a streamlined system so developers could start with a common code base for their Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps. I said at the time,

For now, Marzipan sounds like a great tool for cutting down how much work developers have to do to support macOS and iOS. Instead of creating two codebases—one for each platform—they’ll be able to start with a unified codebase for both.

That sounds a lot like John Gruber’s interpretation over at Daring Fireball. John got more specific saying this sounds like a move to declarative APIs for app development. He said,

I don’t have extensive details, but basically it sounds like a declarative control API. The general idea is that rather than writing classic procedural code to, say, make a button, then configure the button, then position the button inside a view, you instead declare the button and its attributes using some other form. HTML is probably the most easily understood example. In HTML you don’t procedurally create elements like paragraphs, images, and tables — you declare them with tags and attributes in markup. There’s an industry-wide trend toward declaration, perhaps best exemplified by React, that could be influencing Apple in this direction.

He goes on to say that Apple’s plan all along has been to roll this out with macOS 10.15 and iOS 13, which puts the target release in 2019. That means there won’t be any word of this project at this June’s WWDC event.

[5 Things Apple Developers Want to See at WWDC18]

That tells me 2019 is the year macOS goes 64-bit only, dropping support for all 32-bit apps. iOS has already made the transition, so if developers are working with these rumored APIs it makes sense for macOS to follow suit in 2019.

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