updated 10:00 pm EDT, Tue March 22, 2011
Tool will help turn iOS apps into Mac apps quickly
The IconFactory, well-known in Mac community circles, is working on a project that it has dubbed The Chameleon Project that aims to add, on a very simple level, the ability to recompile iOS apps into full Mac apps with very few changes. Chameleon, which is an open-source project, will act as a substitute for Apple's own UIKit, changing the user interface elements of program to fit the Mac or iOS as needed. The program is a clean-room implementation of the work done by Apple on UIKit and does not use disallowed techniques or private APIs.
The program relies heavily on Core Animation, meaning that it is not a recompiling solution that would extend to other platforms -- it will work only with Macs. The developers, Sean Heber and Craig Hockenberry, have so far implemented about 60 percent of the functionality of UIKit after nine months of work, but are turning to crowd-sourcing to fund the remaining work and more importantly, the documentation. IconFactory has already used the project to create a Mac version of their iOS app Twitterific.
Initially, the company estimated that only 25-30 percent of the code developed for Twitterific for iOS was usable in the Mac version, but by "porting" UIKit functionality into Chameleon, they were able to use 90 percent of the iOS code, which dramatically cut down on the time needed to make a Mac version.
For a limited time, the project is making available incentives for those who choose to help fund the project. A contribution of $250 will be rewarded with an exclusive t-shirt featuring the project's logo. A $500 contribution includes both the t-shirt and nearly $1000 worth of icons from StockIcons.com to use in the contributor's own Mac, iOS or web projects, royalty-free. The offer ends on April 20th. Videos demonstrating the work done so far and compiles on both iOS and Mac can be seen on the website.