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Apple is Planning to Kill AppKit with Catalyst

By Ashish Chauhan | August 7, 2019
Apple Appkit Catalyst

iPad OS and macOS Catalina are prepared to usher in a cross-platform app development ecosystem through Catalyst – the just-click-here app porting feature in Xcode. The move is a hint that Apple might be abandoning the legacy macOS framework AppKit.

Before the Catalyst announcement, developers were looking out for the four Apple apps:  Stocks, Voice Memos, Home, and News to understand the performance and uses of cross-platform app development, without knowing that they were probable Catalyst candidates.

Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi atWWDC 2020 Keynote highlights talked about the round of applications made with Catalyst last year and what the company took away from it.

“I think we learned a lesson last year, many lessons with the first release of things like News and Stocks and so forth, some of the things that got written after we released those apps, were attributed to… where people said “oh this doesn’t feel right as a Mac app” were attributed to the underlying technology, when in fact they were just design decisions.”

Moving on to the core values of Catalyst for straightforward apps: it provides everything needed to make an iPad app available to the Mac developers without having to use AppKit. Meanwhile, as per the Human Interface Guidelines for Catalyst apps, it is hinted that Apple will make use of the toolbar menu for settings/ commands or using features within the app’s menu in its window. 

While developers will still be able to use AppKit for developing standalone Mac apps, Catalyst doesn’t appear to be very supportive of the tool. It can be seen as an indication that Apple is not interested in making AppKit a core part of the development of core apps and might soon start limiting its usage. 
In the end, we can conclude that the future of iOS app development is UIKit and Swift whereas AppKit and Objective-C will be limited to be used in isolated apps.

Ashish Chauhan

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