Will the Mac App Store run iPad apps?

Last night during the iPad Live podcast, while Georgia and I were discussing the rumor about Apple holding a secret iOS developer session, she conjectured that Apple might be showing developers a way to quickly make their iPad apps run on the Mac.

Crazy? Apple brought iPhone apps to the iPad, even created a 2x pixel doubling mode to support them on the larger screen. Would boxing them on a Mac screen be any crazier? Apple has also gone to the trouble of making multitouch track pads on their MacBooks and the multitouch Magic Mouse and Magic TrackPad for the Mac Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro, so while it won't be the same as direct contact on a glass screen, it might make sense for a few very popular apps. Like games.

The Mac has never been the gaming platform of choice, and Apple's reluctance to support it hasn't helped matters. But then came iOS and games for iPhone, iPod touch, and now iPad account for a hefty portion of App Store sales. Valve has come to Mac, now the App Store, and with it maybe Angry Birds?

That's what Dave Winer is thinking, and that would be quite the turn around.

Speaking of which, games that require an accelerometer and gyroscope might not work so well, or might require alternate controls on the Mac, just like some non-game apps might need UI that better fill a giant Mac LED display. Steve Jobs talked about full screen apps, however. He talked about auto-save and saved state upon relaunch. iOS developers know how to do all that, and many of them have existing, popular brands. Where full screen apps make sense, iOS developers have already figured a lot of that out and Apple might just be showing them how to make it a reality on the Mac.

The Mac App Store will open in just over 2 months. Who wants to bet we'll see a bunch of well known, just recently ported iOS apps front and center when it does? Dave Winer seems to think so. Do you?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Will the Mac App Store run iPad apps?


The desktop is so much more powerful and should take advantage of that power. While I enjoy many games on my iPhone and iPad, I think app developers should concentrate on leveraging that power.


I think the Mac App Store will allow users to download Apple TV apps (as well as Mac apps). But not iPad apps (unless iPad resolution is bumped to 1680 or greater, which is unlikely in the next year or two.)
Why Apple TV apps? Because HDTV is 1920x1080. Current Mac screen sizes run from 1366x768 (MacBook Air 11.6") to 2560x1440, so scaling down or up would be relatively painless, in terms of image quality. Scaling up iPad's current 1024x768 to 2560x1440 would probably result in aliasing, blockiness, and other image artifacts.
I doubt Apple would allow iPhone or iPad apps to run at their native resolution. They would look like little widgets instead of filling the screen like they do on their target screen sizes.
You might ask "Apple TV apps? What Apple TV apps?" My answer is "The Apple TV apps that Apple will soon enable on Apple TV." App Store could do for Apple TV what it did for iPhone, so Apple needs to at least enable that to happen. It's not quite that simple, since HDTV's 16:9 is a third aspect ratio that developers need to program for. iPhone is 3:2, iPad is 4:3, and HDTV is 16:9.
I think this is why Apple's "resolution independence" project hasn't taken over the (Apple) world. Because resolution independence isn't the whole solution. There also needs to be "aspect ratio independence" for universal apps on all three screen geometries. I have no idea what Apple is actually thinking here, since I'm not an iOS developer (yet). But those are some of the issues I can come up with off the top of my head.

The development of technologically apple sooner, I'm sure Ipad the latest in the world market can be supported even with pixel doubling 2x

You'd think with the graphical and touch-screen ability that games would be straightforward enough, but would Apple let 3rd party developers make them?

I think it will be interesting to see if the Mac App Store ends up being as robust and well populated as the iOS App Store. I for one can't wait for it to go live!

I don't buy it. On an iOS device you 'touch' the user interface element with your finger... your digit is resting on top of the UI element. On a Mac you touch the trackpad to drag a mouse around the screen and then click a mouse button. Completely different user interface modalities.
If the Magic Trackpad became a surface that mapped your X/Y position on the trackpad to the X/Y position on a screen, I don't think people would be very accurate in selecting elements on the screen without directly seeing your finger on the user interface element.

@Jim, I do agree that it would be much improved if the computer could recognize by finger placement on the mouse area, where exactly on the screen to play the mouse. That would make iOS-type gaming much better however I don't see that happening for quite a while if ever.

Dollars to donuts, Apple will make it as easy as possible to port iOS apps to Mac OS Lion. For many apps, it's just a compiler flag switch. For others, some mods have to be done to account for different input mechanisms. I think a lot of those mods will be no different than going between major versions of iOS.
The most controversial thing will be the higher app prices on Mac. 99¢ apps will be 1.99¢ apps type of thing.

Honestly one reason I don't have a Mac is because I can't play computer games, if they would just put in a better graphics card I and I bet others would go over to Mac. This might be a start.

To take the Cocoa code for an existing iPhone application and turn it into Cocoa code for the Mac really isn't that hard.
But what Winer is proposing is compiling an iPhone for a non-existent version of X86 iOS. And then running it on a Mac. In some kind of compatibility gimp-suit.
He wants to run the un-altered code on a Mac with a non-fixed screensize. No touch controls. No accelerometer. Where it would look lousy and violate all the Mac user interface conventions.
If Apple understands anything, it understands that software has to be compiled for the device intended. This is a dumb idea.
Yes, Apple may well encourage leading iOS developers to come to the Mac App Store. But those developers will be shown how to do it the right way. Not the stupid way.

I noticed the newest updated for OSX had an app store in it and it was announced that it would be a key part of the next mac OS, Lion. If I were a betting man, I'd say Apple is moving towards merging their mobile iOS and Mac OSX into one operating system.
Why not with phones running processors with speeds over 1GHz how are they any different then a desktop just a few years ago? I'd say they would be silly not to. One light OS for all their devices would just make sense.
On the hardware side of things, I can't imagine that there isn't a touch-screen iMac on the horizon.

It came out, for future readers of this thread. But unfortunately, it doesn't have much apps like the iPad and also it only runs the "Mac Version" of the apps which the iPad run. For example, to play Angry Birds, you have to have a "Mac Version" of it, not a normal iPad app, since it cannot support it. And for those of you who say about emulators, even they would run the app very lagging and slow.

They brought iPhone games to iPad? They're both running the same OS though! If anything, Apple worked to make them work less well, using pixel doubling to ensure devs created iPad apps rather than let their existing iPhone apps fill the screen.