The Iconfactory announces the Chameleon Project
The creators of Twitterrific have announced a new work in progress that could make life much easier for developers of iOS and Mac applications. With Chameleon, The Iconfactory aims to bridge the huge gap left empty by Apple between iOS and Mac application interfaces.
Each platform has its own set of frameworks for developers to use to create functional, native application interfaces. On the Mac, that’s AppKit, and on iOS it’s UIKit. The two have existed separately for years, and there has never been any interoperability between them. Until now, that is.
“Chameleon is a drop in replacement for UIKit that can run on Mac OS X. In many cases, your iOS code doesn’t need to change at all in order to run on a Mac.”
If their claim is true, this could be huge for the app developer community. Chameleon works by using existing public APIs found in Apple’s iOS Simulator to read in a new user interface idiom in an application’s source code. This ensures that applications ported from iOS to Mac meet Apple’s regulations to be sold in the Mac App Store.
The launch of the iOS App Store brought introduced many new developers to the Mac. A large number were first time users of Macs because they saw the potential in the iPhone to be a successful and lucrative platform. I suspect that a lot of developers have thought about bringing their iOS apps to the Mac after their initial success, but have found it quite arduous to do so. The Iconfactory states this as their main reason for creating Chameleon. They wanted to bring their revamped version of Twitterrific for iOS back to the Mac, but found they were only able to reuse about 25-30% of the original code. With Chameleon, that number grew to 90%.
Chameleon is still very much a work in progress, and can only use about 60% of UIKit currently. Developers who want to dive right in are welcome to download the source code from Github. I am eager to see where the Chameleon Project leads The Iconfactory and other developers. Hopefully we’ll all start to see our favorite iOS apps come to the Mac someday soon.