When Apple first launched macOS Catalina, the company introduced Project Catalyst, its new effort to bring iOS apps to the Mac. There are already a handful of Catalyst apps available on the App Store for Mac users, but a key feature is currently missing.
When you buy an app on your iPhone, you need to buy it separately on your Mac (given that a Catalyst version of the app exists on the Mac App Store). Well, that’s now about to change.
Apple today delivered new betas for iOS 13, tvOS 13, and macOS Catalina, along with Xcode 11.4. The new update introduces support for Universal Purchases — which means you will soon be able to buy an app once and be able to use it on your other Apple devices without having to pay twice. The new update to Xcode allows developers to create a single app record in the App Store for their app, without needing to have one for their iOS app, and one for their Catalyst app. The model also applies to in-app purchases, by the way.
“Starting in March 2020, you’ll be able to distribute iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS versions of your app as a universal purchase, allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across platforms by purchasing only once,” Apple said on its Developer website. Do keep in mind that Universal Purchases for an app will only be available if the developer of the app decides to publish it as a single app record on the App Store.
Apple is also unifying App Store categories across the iOS and Mac App Store.
This is not something we have not seen before, by the way. Microsoft did the exact same thing with the Universal Windows Platform where users were able to pay for an app once and install it on their phone, PC, or other Windows 10 devices. It was quite surprising to see Apple launch Catalyst without Universal Purchase in the first place, to be honest.