MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M1 chip will run iOS apps — What about Intel Macs?

iOS apps on macOS Big Sur
(Image credit: Apple)

While we eagerly wait to put the new MacBook Air (2020, M1) and MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020, M1) through their paces following Apple's "One more thing" event, we're still picking up additional details regarding the new M1 chip and Apple's forthcoming macOS Big Sur update.

As Tim Cook said during the event yesterday, the new MacBook's will offer greater software support than ever before, which is a result of these laptops now having access to a large number of iOS and iPadOS apps (via TechRadar).

That's a statement Microsoft dearly wishes it could make about its own ARM-based efforts, which has been widely criticized for its lack of available compatible software.

The new MacBook's extended support isn't only related to the M1 chip, rather, it is also a function of macOS Big Sur and developers making the necessary updates so their apps can run on Intel-based Macs with macOS Big Sur as well. 

The difference is that M1-based MacBooks can run these apps regardless of whether the developers make any changes. It's worth noting, however, that the developers need to opt-in for users to use them on Mac (and some have chosen not to), but it's a simple approval and not a coding update. If the developers do update the apps properly, they will perform better on the M1 MacBooks than their Intel counterparts.

Desktop apps are where we are expecting to see more issues and that is where Apple's Rosetta 2 emulation software comes into play as it will allow you to run legacy desktop apps that aren't yet optimized for Apple Silicon. The big question here is how much of a performance hit will these apps take in emulation and long does it takes for most major app developers to make the transition to fully take advantage of the M1 chip? Only time will tell. 

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.