macOS 11.3 update may remove a crucial feature for some Apple M1 Mac users

MacBook Air
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apple's M1 Macs have really impressed since their launch late last year, both for their performance and for the ability of macOS to help ease the transition to an ARM-based processor via Rosetta 2.

Unfortunately, MacRumors writer Steve Moser uncovered code in the latest macOS 11.3 beta 3 that suggests Rosetta 2 may be disabled in some regions, leaving those Apple M1 users without a built-in method to run legacy apps (via 9to5Mac).

While developers are increasingly converting their apps over to offer native Apple M1 support, there are still vastly more apps that require x86 emulation via Rosetta 2 to run properly on the M1-based MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini.

Now the hope is that this is purely a precautionary move as Apple may be worried about litigation from Intel. Microsoft faced threats from Intel for its x86 app emulation for Windows 10 on ARM in 2017. It's a problem that Microsoft has struggled with, it wasn't until December 2020 that Microsoft announced emulation support for modern x86 64-bit apps.

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Particularly as Apple begins shipping considerably more M1-based Macs this year, it wouldn't want to face a sales ban or restriction if Intel were successful in legal action against them. This feature would allow Apple to quickly and easily disable the infringing functionality presumably without missing a beat on sales. 

While Intel is no doubt less than thrilled with the reception Apple's M1 has received, there hasn't been any indications of an impending lawsuit, the most we've seen from Intel is posturing regarding its advantages over the M1. For now, this is just a warning that Apple has seen fit to introduce this functionality, there's every chance that we will never actually see it in action.

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.