MacBook ARM tipped to launch this year — and that is nuts

MacBook Pro 2020
(Image credit: Apple)

The rumored MacBook ARM is a complicated project that's reportedly been in the works for a while, and won't arrive until 2021. But a new rumor says we could be getting an ARM-based MacBook as soon as this year.

The source of all the surprise is tweeter @l0vetodream, which simply posted "ARM Mac this year." This is shocking because Apple hasn't even publicly announced its rumored processor change, nor has it told developers how to recode their apps to support the new CPUs.

Apple's rumored move could see the company shift from Intel chips in its desktop and laptop Macs to Apple-made chips based on technology from Japanese tech firm Arm Ltd. And it's a much more complicated matter than simply swapping out a microchip. 

See more

Third-party apps would need to be rewritten and modified, which takes time. A MacBook Air, for example, wouldn't be as compelling if you couldn't run Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop on it.

A post at Notebookcheck speculates that Apple could pull off the rumored 12-inch MacBook ARM by using an emulation layer to run apps designed for Intel chips (running on the x86 architecture), similar to how Chromebooks run Android apps. 

Unfortunately, emulation would create another potential problem: slower performance. According to The Guardian, the Microsoft Surface Pro X has such an issue, wherein "apps that aren’t ARM-native operate as if you have the handbrake on." That being said, this could be how Apple tries to make its all-but-forgotten 12-inch MacBook matter again.

These ARM chips will be similar to the A-series chips Apple uses in its iPhones and iPads, which enable long battery life. Rumor has it this will allow Apple to make MacBooks that are thinner than ever before. Apple's new CPUs are rumored to be unveiled as soon as WWDC 2020 on June 22, so we may have official news soon.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.