Apple developers can now create single-purchase app versions for iOS and Mac apps

“Single-purchase apps will unlock the corresponding app for MacOS when its iOS version is purchased by a user.”

Apple is making some neat changes to its app ecosystem, in a move that should be welcomed by Apple app developers. According to reports on the newly released Xcode 11.4 beta platform, Apple is enabling unified purchases for apps across its platforms. The move, as rightly noted by many, is targeted at Apple’s Mac Catalyst programme that helps developers bring a wider selection of apps that typically premiere on iOS, over to macOS as well. With unified purchases, when a user purchases an app on the iOS app store, the same will apply for the app on macOS as well, and the said app will be ready for download for the user, on their Mac.

The move does not only apply for direct downloads. A report by 9to5Mac states that Apple’s shift to unified, single purchase apps will apply for in-app purchases as well, as long as the core apps between Mac and iOS are connected. In a bid to support this new format for apps, Apple is also overhauling the app stores in iOS and macOS. While the iOS App Store is getting two new categories under ‘Developer Tools’ and ‘Graphics & Design’, the macOS App Store is getting five new categories — Books, Food & Drink, Magazines & Newspapers, Navigation, and Shopping.

For developers who wish to unify the core of their apps, all they need to do for their Mac apps is to use the same bundle identifier as used on the iOS app, and the App Store handles the rest of the unified payments process. For new apps being developed, Apple is automatically enabling the unified purchase model. However, existing apps have a slightly more complicated process — they need to change their bundle identifiers in order to take the same approach.

The Mac Catalyst programme is designed to help MacOS get a wider selection of apps on its platform, and help with a streamlined process for developers to make apps for Macs. The move continues Apple’s efforts to diversify its ecosystem, which it successfully did by segregating iPadOS from iOS. The former is now dedicated for iPads, but signifies a uniform strategy by Apple that offers each device lineup its own app ecosystem, but unifies the overall app experience across the entire Apple ecosystem.