This handy tool gives a head-start on iOS apps on macOS

Apple is bringing iOS apps to macOS with Marzipan but, since general developers won't get a chance to try that out until later this year, one coder has created a new tool to get a head start on the process. The first of the iOS apps on macOS are News, Home, Stocks, and Voice Memos, but the goal is for far more to jump between the platforms.

Enter Marzipanify, a tool by well known developer Steve Troughton-Smith. He started out by setting up a build environment for iOSMac apps, but concluded that there'd be a far simpler way to do it.

Instead, his tool takes an iOS app that's been built for the the iOS simulator, and converts it to macOS. "It means you can continue working on and building your existing iOS app from its existing project, using the existing iOS SDK, and just run the tool against the Simulator build to create a functioning Mac app," Troughton-Smith explains.

Marzipanify first takes the iOS app, and repackages it into a format that macOS will accept. The framework links are then redirected, so that they match up with the iOSMac runtime, and various other behind-the-scenes binary changes and key updates are performed. The result is an iOS app that can be double-clicked on and run on macOS instead.

Although the final specification Apple will settle upon for Marzipan isn't yet known, Marzipanify does go some way to making sure that developers aren't relying on unsupported methods when they build their apps with both iOS and macOS in mind.

"As a bonus, marzipanify will yell at you when you're linking against a framework or library that doesn't currently exist in the iOSMac runtime," Troughton-Smith explains. "It trivializes the process so you can focus on adapting your app rather than managing a build environment."

Apple will, undoubtedly, have a whole suite of tools and support for developers wanting to use Marzipan to bring their iOS apps to the macOS desktop. However it won't release those until it's ready, leaving coders in a limbo state today. After all, building a new iPhone app – or updating an existing one – without being fully aware of how it might appear, function, or even be usable or useful on a Mac seems like a potentially risk use of development time.

Marzipanify goes some way to addressing that uncertainty, and while Troughton-Smith himself concedes it's not everything a developer might need, it's still a good place to get started. For end users, meanwhile, the broader fruits of Marzipan are expected to roll out to Macs later in 2019. We'll likely hear a lot more about that at WWDC 2019 in early June.

Beyond that, though, the expectation is that Marzipan will pave the way to Apple's oft-rumored switch from Intel x86 processors to ARM-based chips. The first such models could arrive as soon as early in 2020 according to reports.