Oct 11, 2019

Achieving single-build simplicity: Apple moves closer to a universal app platform

Apple’s release of Catalyst pushes its app platform closer to achieving single-build simplicity—pushing a single codebase to a service that automatically transforms the source code to operate on multiple devices and operating systems.

Released earlier this week, Apple’s Catalyst helps developers quickly port iPad apps to the Mac store using their existing app source code. The ultimate, long-term goal is simple: write an app once and deploy across tens of millions of devices.

A simpler build process saves developers time while increasing their potential user base. For Apple, Catalyst increases the number of services available in its app ecosystem and lures in consumers.

Apple seems poised to expand the functionality of Catalyst over the next few years so that iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS apps are all built from the same code.

Catalyst is the latest in a major push from big technology platforms to achieve single-build simplicity.

Chrome currently offers similar functionality between Android and Chromebooks. Microsoft offers the Universal Windows Platform to help developers deploy code across Windows, Xbox, and HoloLens. Even cross-platform libraries, like Flutter and React Native, are helping developers create multiple apps with reusable components.

Single-build simplicity is mutually beneficial for developers and big tech. Platforms greater app coverage to attract more users. Developers are far more productive and spend fewer resources maintaining multiple apps.

Happier and more productive developers often determine platform success. Apple, Microsoft, and Google should pay close attention.

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