Why Apple Wants the Same Apps to Run on iPhones and Macs
The company has been moving away from Intel’s chipset for years. Now it’s looking closer than ever to making the switch.
Apple recently announced that starting later this year, when you buy an app on any one of its platforms — iOS, tvOS, iPadOS, and macOS — you’ll be able to access the same app on any other device, without paying again (assuming the developer has opted in, rather than choosing to charge for access to the app on each platform).
This may not seem like a drastic change, but it puts Apple closer than ever to a move it’s been inching toward for a long time: turning macOS and iOS into a single unified platform.
Apple has for years been rumored to be developing a new line of MacBooks that are based on the same chipsets as its iPad and iPhone devices, called ARM architecture. A laptop that runs on this iPad/iPhone chipset would likely have longer battery life, produce less heat, and have no need for fans. Plus, because Apple already designs this type of chipset itself, putting it into the MacBook would remove the company’s dependency on Intel, which currently provides central processing units (CPUs) to Apple for its laptop and desktop computers.
Intel hasn’t innovated in a meaningful way in a decade, struck by ever-slipping timetables for its next-generation CPUs, and an ongoing struggle to mass-produce next-generation chipsets. Apple, meanwhile, has hired the former lead CPU architect of ARM, the company behind ARM processors, and made enough progress toward switching to ARM that both analysts and Intel expect the company to make the change in 2020 or 2021. Intel has been signaling as far back as 2011 that it expects to lose Apple as a customer, with Greg Welch, director of Intel’s Ultrabook group, telling CNET that year that the company “hears the same rumors” about an impending switch to ARM, and that his team must “endeavor to innovate so they’ll continue to look to us as a supplier.”
But moving to a new type of CPU is no easy feat. It would mean that all of the apps you use on macOS today simply wouldn’t function, because they’re built for a specific type of CPU architecture called x86, which has…