Apple launches Universal Apps: what they are and how they work

With Universal Apps, Apple users will have the same application available on all devices of the bitten apple, from iPhone to Mac

Pay one and get five: it's coming a revolution that will please Apple fans who, at least for once, will be able to save something. The Cupertino company, in fact, is starting to allow developers to create the so-called "Universal App" and sell them with the formula of "Universal Purchase".

Today iOS app developers have the possibility to allow users to receive, once bought the iOS version of an app, also the version for iPad, Apple Watch and tvOS included in the price. But not the macOS version, which must be bought separately. Starting with macOS 10.14, the "Marzipan" project was launched, as well as the so-called "Catalyst Apps", i.e. apps that run simultaneously on all Apple operating systems. Catalyst is a kind of unified platform, which simplifies the work of developers and allows them to bring the same app to all Apple OSes with less effort and development costs. Now, however, Universal Purchase has also popped up.

A single purchase for five platforms

A Catalyst app can run on iOS, macOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS, so on all of Apple's devices. Within version 11.4 of Apple Xcode (the app development environment managed by Apple, which also contains several tools for developers) has appeared among the new features the ability to distribute the app with the Universal Purchase formula.

But not only: this type of distribution is the default for apps developed in Catalyst: "Universal Purchase is enabled by default for new Catalyst apps for Mac created with Xcode 11.4. When you create a new Mac Catalyst app, it will have the same identifier as your iOS app". The developer will then be able to choose whether to disable Universal Purchase and continue to charge separately for the macOS version of their app.

Universal App: what changes for users

Universal Purchase will be available starting in March 2020 and will bring several benefits to users. First, categories will be unified between the App Store and Mac App Store to make apps easier to find. Those who buy a universal app, then, will find their in-app purchases on all versions and all operating systems on which they installed the app. This will be very welcome especially to those who will be buying universal gaming apps.