When Apple introduced Catalyst, its developers’ toolkit for porting iOS and iPadOS apps to macOS, developers and users alike were quick to point out that they’d like to see universal iOS/macOS app purchases in the App Store. Now, Apple has told developers it plans to add that feature in March, along with a few changes to the App Store to accompany it.
The company will give third-party app developers the capability to distribute macOS, iOS, and tvOS apps as a universal purchase from a single bundle ID starting sometime in March of this year. Unified purchases can also apply to in-app purchases (IAP).
“You can choose to create a new app for these platforms using a single app record in App Store Connect or add platforms to your existing app record,” Apple wrote in a note to developers. All of this requires the Xcode 11.4 beta at the moment, however.
While Catalyst apps are the most obvious beneficiaries of this change, developers don’t have to have used Catalyst to offer universal purchases for their apps. New Catalyst-developed apps will support universal purchases automatically.
Presently, the iOS/iPadOS and macOS App Stores have very different categorization, but Apple will align them when this feature arrives. Apple outlined the following changes to the App Store in its note to developers:
- You’ll be able to select the following categories for iOS apps: “Developer Tools” and “Graphics & Design”
- You’ll be able to select the following categories for macOS apps: “Books,” “Food & Drink,” “Magazines & Newspapers,” “Navigation,” and “Shopping”
- The “Photography” and “Video” categories on the Mac App Store will be combined into “Photo & Video.” Mac apps and pending updates with the “Photography” or “Video” category selected in App Store Connect will be moved automatically to the combined category
- “Kids” will no longer be a subcategory within “Games” on the Mac App Store
Additionally, Cupertino told developers today that watchOS apps will soon support IAP. Beginning work on this also requires the Xcode 11.4 beta. Here’s the developer note Apple posted on this subject:
With the public release of watchOS 6.2, you’ll be able to offer in‑app purchases directly in your watchOS apps, so users can access premium content, digital goods, subscriptions, and more, all right from their wrist. Get started today by downloading Xcode 11.4 beta, implementing the StoreKit API, and build for the beta version of watchOS 6.2.
The addition of IAP for watchOS follows the introduction of an on-Watch App Store late last year. Previously, a user had to download and manage their Apple Watch apps from a paired iPhone. Apple just released a watchOS 6.2 beta, and it has not identified a date for a public release of 6.2. But this seems it will be one of the flagship features of the update whenever it does arrive.
In addition to the watchOS 6.2 beta, Apple also released developer betas for iOS 13.4 and macOS 10.15.4 this week. macOS 10.15.4 will include Screen Time Communication Limits, a parental control feature previously introduced in iOS and iPadOS 13.2 in December. It will also add the head pointer accessibility feature already seen in iOS, which will allow users with disabilities to move a Mac’s mouse pointer with head motions tracked by a camera, including the front-facing cameras built into the MacBook and iMac computers.
The iOS 13.4 developer beta adds new Memoji stickers with nine emotions made out of whatever Memoji you might create, plus support for third-party navigation apps in CarPlay, the company’s car display software. Both iOS and macOS will get iCloud folder sharing, so users will be able to share folders with whomever they wish directly from the Files app (iOS) or Finder (macOS).