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Apple to Bring iOS Messages App to macOS

image credit: Apple Inc.SVG by CMetalCore / Public domain


By Chand Bellur

May 23, 2020 at 2:28 p.m. PT

  • macOS currently offers a simplified version of the Messages app, which only allows users to send and receive simple messages.
  • iOS features a richer Messages app, with Animojis, Stickers, and other accouterments.
  • A recent leak suggests that Apple is using its Catalyst technology to port iOS Messages to macOS.

macOS Messages Neglected for Years

Ever since the iPhone became Apple’s flagship product, the Mac has faced much neglect. Most of the breakthroughs, such as Touch ID, make their way into the iPhone years before they become fixtures on the Mac. Face ID has yet to adorn any Macintosh; however, it’s been on the iPhone since 2017.

Similarly, Messages has also faced stunted development on the Mac. To some extent, this makes sense. Messaging is central to mobile communications. macOS still doesn’t offer a Phone app, and likely never will. Nonetheless, Apple is one of the biggest corporations on the planet. The fact that macOS Messages is a bare-bones experience is inexcusable.

Apple’s new Catalyst technology, which allows easier porting of iOS apps to macOS, may be the impetus for change. Perhaps this is why Apple waited so long to improve messages on iOS. If they do it right, it will minimize dual development efforts. Using Catalyst, they can repurpose iOS code for macOS.

Next macOS May Have Improved Messages App

As it stands, macOS Messages has some glaring deficiencies when compared to the iOS version. Mac users can’t use Animoji, Stickers, and animated effects. Although messaging is suited more toward mobile devices, the Apple ecosystem tends to provide access from various devices.

Recent leaks reveal that Apple is using its Catalyst technology to port iOS Messages to the Mac. An early version of iOS 14 has Messages running as a Catalyst app, making it easier to port to macOS. So far, no early versions of macOS feature a new Messages app; however, Apple’s use of Catalyst technology hints at an upcoming Mac version of the app.

Metal: Another Example of Mac Neglect

If anything, this was about priorities. Messaging is much more critical to the iPhone. Millennials, in particular, value messaging more than other applications. They also favor the iPhone over the Mac. Messages are Apple’s way of competing with Facebook and other social media entities. Apple users send more iMessages than any competing social media platform.

Not all of Apple’s iPhone favoritism makes sense. Metal is a perfect example of technology better-suited for the Mac that instead debuted on iOS. The technology allows graphics code to run directly on the GPU. While this may assist a low-powered device with better graphics performance, professional Macintosh users would have benefitted immensely.

Instead, Apple decided to debut Metal on iOS 8, postponing the Macintosh release for a year. It’s abundantly clear that the iPhone is Apple’s flagship product. For Mac enthusiasts, however, it’s depressing to see the Mac’s loss of favor.

Beyond software, defective butterfly keyboards, improper display cabling, and other issues have plagued Macs, while the iPhone has been relatively trouble-free. This neglect is yet another consequence of Apple’s reallocation of resources to favor the iPhone.

2019 and 2020 have seen renewed efforts by Apple to improve the Macintosh. They’ve finally released a viable Mac Pro desktop computer. The controversial butterfly keyboard mechanism gave way to the tried and true scissor mechanism. We can only hope that Apple’s renewed love for the Mac continues. After all, it’s possible to prioritize the iPhone without totally neglecting the Mac.


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