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GoodNotes Transitioning Mac App to Catalyst

Today on its blog GoodNotes shared that the upcoming macOS version of GoodNotes 5 would be based on the iPad app using Catalyst:

Earlier this year, we launched our all-new iOS app GoodNotes 5. It has been rewritten from scratch with a much more stable and flexible internal architecture, paving the way for the future of GoodNotes. Rewriting the iOS app also meant that we had to rewrite the MacOS companion because the new GoodNotes 5 was no longer compatible with the outdated existing Mac app. A lot of people were disappointed that we didn’t launch a Mac app together with the iOS version because they still had to stick with GoodNotes 4 if a Mac version was crucial to their workflow. Thanks to the hard work of our Mac team, we released an early-access version shortly after the iOS launch. This beta version is available for everyone who signs up for access. We shipped updates with new features and improvements on a regular basis and were almost ready to launch it publicly when Apple officially announced the start of “Project Catalyst” during their annual developer’s conference in June. It’s a framework that allows developers to bring their iPad apps to the Mac, with a relatively low effort. It still requires a lot of work to create a great Mac app but at least developers don’t have to rewrite significant portions of the code, as it was the case previously.

We believe that it is a great opportunity for us to unify the GoodNotes experience between iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS and will launch the new GoodNotes for Mac using Apple’s new framework.

GoodNotes is a noteworthy Catalyst app not just because it’s a very popular iPad app, but because it already has an existing Mac app. Catalyst makes the most sense for iPad apps that don’t currently have Mac counterparts, but GoodNotes’ plans demonstrate the advantages offered to other apps too. By adopting Catalyst and moving toward a more unified codebase, GoodNotes ensure that users on the Mac will never be left behind again, because new features can be developed and shipped on both iOS and macOS with little added effort.

Our John Voorhees, in his recent Catalyst story, listed GoodNotes as an example of a Mac app that’s fallen behind its iOS version feature-wise, so it’s great to find out that will change in the near future. The only real drawback, as noted in GoodNotes’ post, is that Catalyst apps will require macOS Catalina to run, so users on older versions of macOS won’t be able to download the new GoodNotes 5 for Mac.