Mossberg: There’s a good chance Apple will introduce ARM-based Macs

“If you became a frequent computer user starting anytime between, say, 1990 and 2007, there’s a good chance that your idea of a PC is a desktop or laptop running a mouse and keyboard-driven graphical user interface,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. But if you got attached to computing in the last 10 years, you very likely find it more natural and comfortable to do your digital tasks on a multi-touch device lacking a keyboard or mouse and running a new, simpler, and cleaner kind of operating system.”

MacDailyNews Take: You can thank Apple for both.

“These devices have become by far the most commonly, frequently, and extensively used personal computers,” Mossberg writes. “They are the new PCs.”

“The tablet — or perhaps more aptly, the large-screen mobile device — is showing new signs of interest. First, some laptops are getting ARM processors,” Mossberg writes. “While Apple has been silent on this matter, I believe there’s a good chance it will introduce ARM-based Macs. This is partly because it has an entire silicon design arm that creates wicked fast, efficient, proprietary ARM chips that get produced in large quantities for iOS devices and run rings around the lowest, most battery-sipping Intel processor Apple uses in its smallest MacBook… This is an exciting idea, for sure. But, I believe it won’t matter much until Apple builds an ARM-based laptop running iOS.”

Mossberg writes, “I am taking about a laptop that only runs iPad apps, including the many productivity and creativity apps that have been built for that tablet.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Only Apple is capable of doing what Mossberg describes. Only Apple controls all of the parts of the widget, from hardware to software to services.

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

Anyone in the market for a 12.9-inch device that’s an OS X-powered MacBook when docked with its keyboard base and an iOS-powered iPad when undocked? — MacDailyNews, October 7, 2014

Illustration from Apple's hybrid Mac-iPad patent application
Illustration from Apple’s hybrid Mac-iPad patent application

31 Comments

      1. the ultimate pro laptop has two screens, display and full sized keyboard screen with programmable keysets, tools, pallets, etc. Forget the wrist rests, use the entire space for pro-ductivity.

  1. Why does he think it has to run iPad apps? If it’s a laptop, most iPad apps don’t use a cursor, and most laptops NEED cursors. So, why wouldn’t a developer just re-compile their OSX app in Xcode (after flipping the “compile for ARM” switch) and release that instead? Makes more sense to me.

    1. Exactly. What should an ARM-based Mac ONLY run iOS and iOS apps? In my opinion, you will soon see Mac OS and associated apps running on ARM-based Macs, and those same Macs will be able to run iOS/iOS apps. That is the start of the convergence, and it will require a rethink of touch-based UI for Mac laptops and desktops.

    2. The only way this makes sense is to see a new iPad OS that diverges from iOS used on phones. iPad usefulness is ham-stringed by the iOS box it finds itself in. There is a real Love/Hate aura around iPads: Love the concept/Hate the limitations. Time for the iPad to grow up.

    3. Indeed..!

      “Mossberg writes, “I am taking about a laptop that only runs iPad apps, including the many productivity and creativity apps that have been built for that tablet.”..”

      Unless i missunderstand the above quote …..I dont agree……. what the hell for Moss??? ……. give me Power/ full functionality in a small form factor….. not a big form factor with compromised functionality. ………….. He must have been lit on a big fat doobie when he wrote this ! Or he is losing it. ….

      Again… IMO….The ultimate answer is in:

      Hybrid, Detachable Screen Adaptive OS mobile devices .

      I have been pushing for the below idea for a few years now.. 2012 or so…

      Basically a thin laptop which functions as below:

      -Open screen, twist screen 180 and fold back on keyboard…. use as a PRO Tablet with choice of macOS or ios/pro
.
      -Open screen and detach from keyboard …… use as pure tablet (lite weight) running IOS (ios/pro )

      -Open screen and use as regular laptop …. macOS.

      priced as flagship top of the line mobile device.. above all others.
      I envision the form factor to be similar to the new MacBook.. but with flat sides and top/ bottom… Kind of a monolithic look… to accommodate for the twist and fold back feature.
The monitor would be attached using a 2 axis pin joint mechanism (at the center of its lower edge ) which alows it to be twisted and folded back on keys…. And carries power and comunication signals.
      I i firmly believe in this form factor and belive it will be reality sooner than later… 🤞🤞🤞

  2. I think that Walt is right. For many people, Intel compatibility is quite unnecessary. There are plenty of people who only need to use the apps that are typically available on an iPad, so whether you think of it as a desktop iPad or a notepad version of an iPad, it’s a great solution for many users. There would need to be a certain amount of convergence between IOS and OS X to make it work well, but I think it would end up closer to IOS than OS X.

    Obviously there will still be a need for Macs much like we currently know them and I would see ARM Macs as an additional option, not a replacement.

    Apple’s ARM chips will be particularly well suited to laptop form factors where they will offer good computing power with minimal power consumption, giving impressive battery life. It should also be able to make it somewhat cheaper than if using an Intel processor, which would obviously be advantageous.

  3. It’s a smart move, but a slow transition…not as simple as just recompiling. Only Apple could find the balance between the index finger, the trackpad, and the mouse. I’d like the Apple watch to also be an option for the cursor movement by sliding your finger on the watch screen…a remote cursor.

  4. I still prefer my trucks. Though I’m open to the idea of Apple including BOTH Intel and ARM processors in their machines so that they can function as dual-purpose devices. However, it needs to be executed correctly, perhaps as the patent shows. It would also have to be geared toward pro-users that understand the differences between iOS and OS X.

    Honestly, I rarely use many of the iOS apps I’ve downloaded outside of some casual games and core Apple apps. And on the Mac, it’s Apple’s apps along with Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft 365 99.9% of the time.

  5. I’m so bored with the “all you need is an iPad” discussion. If Apple can run OS/X on an Arm processor without reducing functionality or speed then that would be ok for some of the people, some of the time. But I need to run Windows on one of my Macs and probably both in the long-run.

    I also think Mossberg’s comment highlights something of a circular argument: phones became expensive and, for many people, more useful than a computer. They don’t have computers, so they never learn how to use the features of a Mac that iOS doesn’t have.

    Apple are dumbing down the user base.

    I’m sticking with my computers. Even if I have to move to wintel.

    1. With respect to running Windows on Mac hardware, I’m pretty sure you are an outlier. Vast, vast majority of Mac users never even bother to try Windows on their Mac (bootcamp, Prallels or Vine), and even the sliver of a percentage who tried it (myself) eventually wiped it out after realising they haven’t booted it in a year.

      Apple has survived on Macs alone well before moving to Intel. I don’t think they will have any trouble migrating away from Intel over to ARM (or any other RISC chipset), even if it means disruption similar to the Rosetta model of 12 years ago. If they were able to drag their developers through that process (and don’t forget System 9 to OS X migration) with one fifth of the userbase they have today, there is no doubt in my mind that they will successfully execute this move today with insignificant loss of users (those who can’t work without Windows compatibility).

      1. While I can agree with the premise, Apple is much larger now and from appearances much less nimble. Any major move is going to disrupt a much larger user base than any other time in Apple history. The question is how risk averse Apple has become since SJ’s passing.

    1. And you’re privy to the latest in Apple’s ARM development? Apple’s ARM cores in the A10 are already approaching the performance of Intel’s most powerful cores and they use a fraction of the energy. Also, most of today’s “pro” apps make more use the of GPU than the CPU.

    2. Why not 50, 100 or more? Design the Mac Pro to house a cluster of nano-blades, each housing x number of ARM chips. A relatively low cost, low power consuming, super computer.

      Nothing fancy, just something 1/4 to 1/3 the size of the G4 or G5. Let the user get at the guts so they can add more stuff which they buy from Apple. Apple should think of the new super cluster as a grocery cart for geeks, The Geek Cart.

    3. More than that, considering I/O on ARM is severely restricted compared to The latest CISC sets. I fail to see the attraction of low power RISC chips in any Mac. Make the Mac powerful again!

  6. Walt basically described the eMate.

    I have the Logitech Create w/ Pencil holder and I have to say, i use my iPad Pro more than my iMac anymore. But I like the fact that I can remove the iPad from the keyboard case… I don’t know if I would like a fixed device. I think Apple will continue to leave it to 3rd party vendors to fill the need.

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