Apple to begin universal purchases of iOS and macOS apps starting next month
Many Apple iPhone users also own a Mac; it only makes sense. If you've consumed the Apple KoolAid, you're bound to stick with the company's ecosystem. To make things easier for those who own both an iOS and a macOS device, in March Apple will implement universal purchases of apps. This means that if you buy an app from the Mac App Store, you'll also own the App Store version of the app.
Apple sent out a message to its developers on Wednesday explaining that their customers will be able to pay for an app or an in-app purchase one time and it will count as a purchase across the aforementioned platforms. To put it simply, Apple wrote to developers: "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." Apple recommends that developers build and test their apps using a single bundle ID with Xcode 11.4 beta.
Apple says that categories in the App Store and the Mac App Store will be unified to help make developers' apps discoverable to users. Among these changes, macOS apps will soon offer titles in these categories: "Books", "Food & Drink", "Magazines & Newspapers", "Navigation", and "Shopping". In addition, the separate "Photography" and "Video" sections in the Mac App Store will be combined to form one category called "Photo & Video". Mac apps and those pending an update will automatically be moved to the new combined category. And the "Kids" subcategory within the "Games" listing will no longer be seen in the Mac App Store. Developers were also reminded by Apple that they can change the categories and subcategories that their apps belong to by disseminating an app update.
This really is good news for iOS and macOS users since they no longer will have to purchase the same app twice, once for each platform. You might recall that last year, there was a report about an initiative that Apple was calling "Marzipan." The company would launch a universal app store by 2021 allowing developers to submit one app to cover both iOS and Mac devices.
Rumors about a universal app store for Apple date back to 2017. A report from that year cited the Twitter app as a reason why universal apps are needed for Apple devices. The macOS version of Twitter at that time was way behind the iOS version in terms of updates and features. A universal app store would make sure that Mac users receive the latest version of apps along with their iOS using counterparts.
One thing that Apple says it does not want is to create a universal operating system for both iOS and Mac.