Apple took us by surprise after announcing its official site that soon, they will be selling cross-platform apps as one universal purchase. This also includes apps that are sold on macOS. Brace yourself to see a huge change in iOS app development.

Ios App Development

The company is taking another step towards the road of unification. Developers will be able to offer universal purchases of apps that run on tvOS, macOS, iPadOS, and iOS. This means that developers can create an option to allow customers to make a one-time purchase. They will make a single payment and still get these different versions. And if you are wondering, then yes, in-app purchases can become universal as well.

What Does The Universal Purchase Update Reflect?

With the new Xcode 11.4 beta update, iOS 13.4, macOS Catalina, and tvOS 13.4, developers will now be able to bundle TV, Mac, and iOS apps for one universal purchase.

As a startup, you will be able to make Mac and IOS apps as a single bundle. This change is convenient for not just startups and developers, but consumers as well. This universal purchase feature is enabled for all mac catalyst apps by default created via the Xcode 11.4 software.

This new update will enable developers not just to create apps available on different platforms, but sell them as universal purchase. This experience is similar to that of universal windows apps by Microsoft. It is going to save so much time, and fuss as developers can now create a new multi-platform app or add more platforms to the existing one.

You might want to test this new update with the iOS and macOS versions of your mobile app immediately since the beta version of Xcode is already out.

What Does The New Update Mean For Startups?

The update will roll out in March 2020. The app store categories will now be unified across Mac and iOS app stores. This will make the apps more discoverable. These changes will also alter the iOS App development process but in a positive way. Here are some ways it can help your startup:

Get A Higher App Ranking 

The app store categories are hardly updated, so this is going to be a notable change that will impact all developers. Even if you don’t sell a universal app bundle, it would still help. When you list the app in a new category, this will give your business app a better shot at ranking on the list of top 10 apps.

Add New Categories

Another benefit is being able to list your app in 2 new categories. This is more of a benefit for your team of your developers. These are the two categories they will get:

  • Developer tools
  • Graphic and design tool

The Mac app store has gained categories such as food & drink, navigation, shopping, books and magazines, and newspapers. The photography and video categories will be combined into photo & video. There won’t be a subcategory called kids within games.

Developers can either create a new app for these platforms by writing a single app record, or they can add different platforms to an existing record and use the Universal Purchase option. This feature is enabled by default for the catalyst apps. It will also be available for the non-catalyst apps.

No More Complications 

The universal purchase will remove several pain points faced by developers during iOS app development, especially when it comes to creating free apps with subscriptions or in-app purchases.

The developers won’t have to create two separate back ends for supporting macOS and iOS versions of apps. It certainly comes with some drawbacks. You will hear startups saying these changes might devalue their software.

Let’s say you charge $39.99 for the pro version of your Mac app and the iOS versions cost $4.99. Once universal purchase comes to the picture, you will have to reduce the price of the Mac version. You either have to increase the price of the iOS version or reduce the price. This could make you lose profits. The concern is genuine. You will have to come to terms and make decisions based on your user base.

Aligning MacOS And iOS – The Choice Is Yours 

After hearing about losing profitability, you must be thinking if the universal purchase is something you want to use. Well, there is no pressure on any business to use this new feature. You can still choose to have two different versions of your app. Most of the giants that heavily rely on Mac apps for revenue won’t change a thing.

Don’t forget that with universal purchase, Apple wants to align macOS and iOS as its app store and developer platform by using Project Catalyst. The company doesn’t want to create separate macOS, watchOS, and iOS stores. It wants everything to exist under one roof, and that’s fair.

The Takeaway

This is not the first time that Apple has allowed developers to distribute their apps as one purchase. If you have ever had the experience of buying an iPhone app and purchase an iPad or Apple watch along with it, you will know the universal purchase option was already available. What’s new is that Apple is bringing this functionality to Mac apps too, and this is happening for the first time.

The universal purchase option does not make sense for all apps. As a startup, you will have to weigh the pros and cons before integrating it into your business model. However, this option is a significant step for unifying separate app ecosystems offered by Apple. This could change the future of Mac app development. Once Xcode is released along with macOS and iOS, they will bring new features such as head pointer tech, CarPlay updates, Memoji stickers, iCloud folder sharing, and so much more.

The future of unified experience across all platforms is still a little farfetched. But startups and developers should start planning right now.

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