First Macs with Apple chips could mean tumultuous 2020

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MacBook Internal makeup
A rumored switch from Intel to Apple processors could come to MacBook and macOS desktops as early as next year.
Photo: Apple

Moving macOS computers from Intel processors to ones Apple has created itself seems to be on schedule.  At least, that’s what Intel thinks, according to a recent report.

This is likely a part of bringing all the software that runs on iPhone, iPad and Mac together.

Unnamed sources at Intel told Axios that Apple is definitely making the move to custom-designed ARM processors, possibly as early as next year.

The first report of this project came from Bloomberg last spring, with a rollout expected in 2020 or 2021. Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said last fall that the first Mac with an Apple chip could be out this year or next.

Two reasons for the change to Apple processors

A switch from Intel to ARM would be the most significant change to the Mac since 2005, when Mac went from PowerPC to Intel. But Apple has its reasons.

The company announced last year it’s developing a framework that will allow iOS software to run natively on Mac. And it is reportedly going to build onto that to allow macOS and iOS apps to be created from one codebase.

iPhone and iPad employ Apple A-series chips while Macs use Intel ones. It would be much easier for developers to create software that ran on all three types of computers if iOS and macOS both used the same processors.

On top of that, Intel has had problems consistently bringing out faster versions of its processors. Some of the delays have stretched for years.  By contrast, Apple has been able to introduce faster versions of its A-series chips every year since 2007.

All that said, this switch would make life hard on developers for some time. Their software will have to support two different chip architectures for years as Intel-based Macs are gradually replaced by ARM-based ones. 

Apple not merging iOS and macOS

The merger between iOS and macOS is apparently getting to third base but it’s not going all the way. Company executives have been adamant that they will never merge iOS and macOS into a one-size-fits-all operating system for both mobile and desktop devices.

As CEO Tim Cook said last year, “We don’t believe in sort of watering down one for the other.”