Apple ‘Universal Purchase’ Means Buy Once, Run On Mac, iPad & Apple TV

Apple has announced that, starting in March 2020, developers will be able to distribute iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS versions of app as a ‘universal purchase’, allowing your to use both apps and in-app purchases across platforms by making a single purchase.

The long-requested feature means that developers will be able to create apps that you buy once, and then run on your iPhone, iPad, Mac and even Apple TV, automatically syncing your data across platforms.

Apple will also support developers turning existing single-platform apps into multi-platform ones.

In addition to the new options for developers, categories will be unified across the App Store and Mac App Store to align with this change, and to help make apps more discoverable.

This is not an automatic change, so multiple options are available to developers:

  • Developers can maintain the status quo, releasing apps for single platforms;
  • They can update existing apps to be multi-platform purchases; and
  • They can choose to release a new version of their app to support multiple platforms.

Details for developers are available at the Apple developer site. Users should start seeing multi-platform apps showing up in March.

13 thoughts on “Apple ‘Universal Purchase’ Means Buy Once, Run On Mac, iPad & Apple TV

  1. Wonder which developers will choose to do this, aside from a couple of attention seekers. Mac software prices are often at least double the price of the ioS version. Don’t expect korg gadget, cubasis or reason lite to be universal anytime soon.
    Many developers think the resolution difference between ipad, iphone and apple tv is a great reason to charge more for an ipad version (animoog fi).

    1. “Wonder which developers will choose to do this, aside from a couple of attention seekers. Mac software prices are often at least double the price of the ioS version. ”

      Seems like developers would charge more for apps that run on your computer, tablet and phone and that a lot of users would be willing to pay more for an app that they can run anywhere.

  2. The gaps in iPad music production will hopefully close nearly immediately, now that devs can justifiably charge a lot more for their apps (apps which take a lot more time to develop and have a limited number of potential users, for example, a high-end DAW like Cubase, as opposed to mere Cubasis). One I’m hoping to see is Waverazor. I opted to not get it at the intro price, because I just can’t stand using the laptop for even a minute more than I must (am I the only one with a loathing of laptops, a love of iPads?) The full price is perfectly reasonable, but I gotta have that iPad love.

    1. There is certainly headroom in pricing for iPadOS, and iOS. Over the years, I’ve bought so many apps because they were cheap. I have used literally none but a few – unsurprisingly they are the ones with higher prices: Synclavier Go!, Steelytron Pro, Auria, etc…

  3. How about letting everyone access legacy software that’s still on the appstore, not just for those who purchased it in the past.
    So many apps that have earlier ios versions, but sorry, you can only purchase the latest one, IF you have the latest iOS.
    (Sorry, off topic, but relevant given that half the people out there won’t even be able to buy a cross compatible app, due to not having the latest Mac/iPad etc).

  4. Could be great for users but seems like yet another move by Apple that will reduce developer income. Apple sells machines and it’s in their interest to commodify apps, making them as cheap as possible (which increases the perceived value of their machines).

    The consensus in the comments above seems to be that developers will start to charge more for cross-platform apps. Current ‘universal’ apps don’t seem to do this. And it ignores the fact that a great many iOS users do not have a Mac or Apple TV—why would they want to may more?

    I think the only way this shakes out well for developers is if they go subscription or can sell some other post purchase items or services. Like, this seems perfect for Slack or Netflix. Maybe not so much for your average AUv3 maker.

    /not an apple hater. My stack of apple devices has been growing for years.

  5. I suspect that apple will make eventually their entire line of products touch based.Bringing also iphone A?Pro chips into their products also means new shapes of designs and new era in the history of a personal computer (fanless for a start).My guess is that Subscription is unfortunately the way to go for every developer.I dont like it either.After all Apple does it for years with their 1 year cycle for everything.Sounds like a hardware subscription to me.

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