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Universal Purchase – pay once, get apps for Mac and mobile

iPhone and iPad have had universal apps for a while now, but the Mac App Store has always been a separate beast. However, upcoming development tools from Apple allow for ‘Universal Purchases’ that apply across all compatible devices.

That means developers will soon have a way to bundle together apps across the macOS and iOS/iPadOS platforms, making things easier – and perhaps cheaper – for users.

This is all part of Apple’s ‘Project Catalyst,’ an initiative announced last year that aims to unify the platforms. It’s already provided tools to easily port iOS apps over to macOS, but this latest change means that users will no longer have to purchase both separately. Buy something on iPhone, and it could automatically download the equivalent version to your Mac – similar to the way synced purchases work across iPhone and iPad.

This feature is a part of the latest Xcode beta, with Apple suggesting Universal Purchases will go public sometime around March.

Apple is working on other features to help unify its products, too – in-app purchases will soon be coming to Apple Watch, meaning one more thing you can do untethered from the iPhone. Even cars will be in the mix, with updates to CarPlay coming soon alongside a new capability to unlock and start compatible cars using an iPhone or Apple Watch instead of a key.

We’ll have more on all these features when iOS 13.4 goes public next month.