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Apple takes huge step towards universal iOS and Mac apps

Apple iOS and macOS users will soon be able to buy apps that’ll automatically unlock availability on both their mobile and desktop devices.

In the latest beta versions of the company’s key software platforms, Apple is enabling developers to create unified purchases. So, if a user downloads an app for their iPhone, which is also available on macOS, that app will be unlocked on their desktop computer.

While iOS devices have long synced app downloads between iPhone and iPad models, those with Macs currently have to download the same app manually. This will soon change, it seems.

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The initiative is geared toward assisting the fledgling Mac Catalyst tool that is designed to make it easier for developers to port their iOS apps to the Mac with the minimum of fuss and effort. Once the same app is available on both platforms, it makes sense for downloads to be unified.

The new feature was discovered today within the new iOS 11.4, iPadOS 11.4, macOS 10.15.4 and, according to developer Steve Troughton-Smith, “enabled by default for new Mac Catalyst apps created in Xcode 11.4.”

For its part, Apple explains: “When you create a new Mac Catalyst app, it will use the same bundle identifier as your iOS app.”

In the notes released to developers, (via 9to5 Mac) the company says: “Starting in March 2020, you’ll be able to distribute iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS versions of your app as a universal purchase, allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across platforms by purchasing only once. You can choose to create a new app for these platforms using a single app record in App Store Connect or add platforms to your existing app record.”

As a result of the change, Apple is also unifying the categories on the App Store and the Mac App Store  in order to help make apps more discoverable.

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