The internet has been buzzing about a recent report by Bloomberg, claiming that Apple has secret plans internally to drop their partnership with Intel by the year 2020 and move to something else entirely. According to the report, Apple may swap to processors of their own design by the end of this decade, and could also be getting ready to merge the Mac and iOS ecosystems into one base operating system and experience, expanding across devices into differently suited user interfaces. This would be an industry-changing event if it comes to pass.
The project internally at Apple is reportedly codenamed “Kalamata”, and would affect the iMac and Macbook lineups, as well as the Apple Mac Mini (that is, if Apple decides to release an updated Mac Mini this year). It would mean that Apple would shift over to ARM-derived architectures of its own design, allowing them more control over the hardware ecosystem that their business relies on. With Intel’s business firmly in the x86-64 space, they’re not in a position to respond very quickly if they desire to keep Apple as a customer. Apple already designs their own processors for use in their iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV products, and makes a lot of custom silicon already for various specialist devices.
This move apparently will compliment an initiative to bring over iOS apps from the Apple Store to the MacOS platform starting this year. An earlier report by Bloomberg says that the company has been working to compete with Google’s ability to run Android applications on ChromeOS, so this would not be surprising. Microsoft is likewise setting themselves up for the same capability, offering the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) as a starting point for cross-platform applications, as well as Progressive Web Apps (PWA) which are flexible browser-based applications with a custom user interface.
Although the year 2020 is quite close and may cause some panic from Intel’s shareholders, most of this work is already completed and has been under open development for several years. When Apple revealed the iOS platform for the first time, it was running on a custom kernel derived from the BSD kernel used by Mac OSX. Apple began to closely match the kernels with the launch of the first iPad, and today MacOS and iOS are very, very close to the kernel code being shared. The kernel has been developed in tandem for both platforms for years, and with the UI overhaul in MacOS to support high resolution displays and scalable form factors Apple could switch over without too much hassle.
Apple’s WWDC conference takes place in San Jose, California, between 4-8 June 2018, and is expected to have more details on the switch from Intel, as well as reveal new Macbook, iMac, and Mac Pro designs.