Why enterprise IT should take a look at Apple Arcade

Apple will introduce support for Mac Catalyst when it ships macOS Catalina this month.

Apple, Mac, iOS, Arcade, iPad, iPadOS, Catalina., Catalyst, Mac

Apple plans to introduce support for Mac Catalyst, tools that make it easier to port existing iPad apps to Macs, when it ships macOS Catalina this month.

Mac Catalyst in Apple’s Catalina

With that in mind, enterprise developers may want to take a look at Apple Arcade, because it’s a great place to explore apps that run on both iOS devices and Macs.

Games are among the most demanding applications you can run on any platform, which makes them a good way to stress test what platforms can do.

At the heart of the development of Arcade titles likely sits Apple’s philosophy for the future coexistence of all its platforms. Introduced at WWDC 2018 and talked up a little more at Apple’s developer conference in 2019, Catalyst makes it easier for developers to export iPad apps to Macs.

Arcade games may not be built using the new APIs Apple has built to support Catalyst, but they do run on all Apple’s platforms. And it is also true that software developers will be able to more easily create Mac versions of their iPad apps, thanks to Catalyst.

iPad and the iOS enterprise

It is important to note that thousands of enterprises now use iPads – Apple’s netbook-destroying tablet defined its industry and led business users to first begin exploring iOS.

This resulted in a move to support BYOD, which has led to a proliferation of iPhones and Macs among business users. Enterprises that focus their business around support for Apple’s systems currently face the expense of building an app for iPads, iPhones and Macs.

Catalyst should make this easier (and cheaper). Enterprise development teams can now build apps first for iPads that can then be repurposed for iPhones and for Macs. (As part of this shift, Apple will probably need to create a Catalyst for iPhone to make that part of the process even easier.)

What’s attractive about Catalyst for Mac is that the app experience remains consistent, which means workforces should find using the software on an iPad just as intuitive as using it on a Mac, and vice versa.

Another advantage should be that when it comes to updating essential enterprise apps developers can build once to update both versions. Put it all together and enterprises should be able to build software for their internal teams and external customers at lower cost, and future app maintenance and updates should be less demanding in terms of time/cost.

Using Apple Arcade apps on your iPad and Mac should provide a useful illustration of the capabilities and differences between the platforms when apps are identical.

What apps will support Catalyst?

Apple revealed Twitter as one of the big firms building apps in this way, but there are other professional productivity apps that are being ported, too, such as:

I’m sure we’ll see many more solutions appear once Catalina ships. But the primary interest for most enterprise shops is more likely driven by the opportunity to develop software to boost internal productivity, and to offer existing iPad apps to Mac-using customers.

As you might expect, things aren’t yet perfect.

There are reports that some developers see Catalyst as a work in progress, still in need of improvement and refinement. They complain of missing functions, while Apple encourages them to make ported apps more Mac-like, and there’s some need for interface development tools, among other issues.

In effect, some of the missing elements resonate as being similar to the early days of Swift, when the importance of Objective-C began to deprecate. That said, it is evident that Apple places great store in Catalyst, as it does in Swift. 

That confidence is why enterprise developmers should spend time exploring Catalyst, as doing so will equip them with the skills and familiarity with tools Apple is building to support the future of app development on its platforms.

Mac developers using Catalina in beta can already explore these tools and port their existing iPad OS apps to Macs running the beta.

Build once, run anywhere

Apple’s vision of being able to build one app to run across multiple platforms (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac) isn’t exclusive – some still-essential apps won’t be appropriate for some of these devices. But it is reassuring in the sense that computing is becoming far more ubiquitous. So, if you walk in on your CEO playing Oceanhorn 2 on his or her  iPad over the next week, don’t be annoyed.

It's probably just research...

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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