If the rumors are true, we will finally be getting some details from Apple regarding one of the longest running predictions for their hardware- the ARM Mac. Several sources have reported about this one for some time, but Mark Gurman from Bloomberg has the scoop that Apple will pull the curtain back on the beginning of this new act at WWDC. Moving macOS to their own A-Series ARM chip architecture is the company’s biggest technological leap in a while and this sounds like the perfect time and place to kick it off.
So far, most of the rumors of new Mac hardware with ARM processors are pointing to sometime next year, so it looks like we will just be getting an announcement in a few weeks. That makes good sense, though. Apple will use their developer-focused event to get coders and fans ready for what lies ahead. I have a feeling there will be tools and emulation ready well ahead of hardware, so devs can start the process of porting and testing sooner, rather than later. That makes a WWDC pre-announcement a smart move.
This kind of thing is exactly nwhat separates Apple from Microsoft. The latter has certainly made strides post-Ballmer, but they still struggle to drag Windows forward without the combination of apathy and resistance. Rather than roll out initiatives to move toward ARM without the right amount of support and encouragement, Apple is showing their experience here. In case you have forgotten, they’ve done this before. They very successfully moved the Mac from PowerPC to Intel a little over a decade ago. They know exactly how to get developers on board and how to make sure this move is embraced and adopted wholeheartedly.
So what will a move to ARM mean for the Mac and macOS? There is the low hanging fruit of better battery life and less heat generation coupled with better performance than Intel’s “mobile” processors. There is the ease of integrating LTE and 5G with chipsets that are specifically designed to work with such technologies. As long as the first ARM Macs deliver acceptable performance, they will be joy to use because of the advantages above. And the performance should quickly improve as Apple gains experience tuning the A-Series to the desktop.
What I am more interested in is the future. Apple isn’t just moving the Mac and macOS to ARM. They are moving them to their own, customized A-Series chips. After years of watching Apple literally lap the field in optimized performance, I can’t wait to see what they will do with their silicone in a computer with a desktop-class OS. We’ve seen how good they are at optimizing their own software and hardware across mobile devices. If Apple wants to make a statement here, they definitely have the chops to do it. Even if they walk a more conservative path with ARM Macs, Apple is still almost certain to deliver computers that its users will love.
Here is my personal prediction for 2021. I think Apple is going re-release the Macbook as their first A-Series macOS computer. I have no sources, but it makes perfect sense if you think about it. That computer was interesting when Apple released it, but it was just too far ahead of its time. The underpowered Intel processors held it back and USB-C hadn’t been adopted widely enough yet. The thinner than it had to be butterfly keyboard didn’t help, either.
An A-Series ARM processor can set that ultra-thin and light Macbook design free to reach its maximum potential. That alone is worth waiting for in my book and I don’t even use a Mac. Who knows? If Apple prices it reasonably enough, maybe that could be my first Mac.