In November 2020, Apple debuted their first Macs with native Apple Silicon M1 chips. According to the early Apple Silicon reviews, new Macs are faster and more powerful than any of the old models. And the cherry on top: these Macs can natively run iPhone and iPad apps. But not all of the apps you could expect. Read about all the developers we know of who won’t be offering their iOS apps on Apple Silicon Macs and what it means for you.
What is Apple Silicon Mac?
Apple Silicon Mac or Arm-based Mac represents the lineup of MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini devices with the M1 chip. Apple Silicon M1 chip is the first chip that was designed specifically for a Mac. So it’s basically Apple’s own chip meeting Apple’s own computer.
Apple has been designing powerful native chips for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch for years — but 2020 became the first year when they poached on a Mac territory. And it looks like a Mac won’t be the same again. As the first Apple Silicon reviews confirm, Arm-based Macs get at least 35% higher score on single-core performance than Macs with old Intel processors. Plus, best CPU per watt, battery life improvements, faster machine learning, and so much more.
For those wondering about Apple Silicon release date, great news: the first Macs with Apple Silicon Mac chips arrived on November 17, 2020. In many locations across the UK and US, they are available for a next-day in-store pickup, with more countries joining the list soon. You can order Apple Silicon MacBook or Mac Mini on apple.com.
Why you should get Apple Silicon Mac
If you’ve been thinking about buying a new Mac, you should definitely look into Apple Silicon. And here’s why:
Apple Silicon M1 specs are impressive. Try editing a 4K video on an Apple Silicon MacBook — you’ll almost feel the ease of it in your fingers. The newest Macs are truly more powerful and faster than Intel-based computers. Where an old Mac would freeze and stutter, Apple Silicon Mac will do the job effortlessly. So it’s definitely a huge upgrade to your workflow.
macOS Big Sur is a great addition to Apple Silicon. Prior to releasing Macs with the M1 chip, Apple rolled out its annual macOS update — and it matches Apple Silicon like no other. This year’s macOS 11 Big Sur is based on M1-first developer technologies. It features ultra-fast Safari, an iOS-like Control Center, and many other improvements that will make elevate your Apple Silicon experience.
Many developers are ready for the transition. Even though transitioning to a new processor is a big deal, Apple is prepared. It has been prepared for a long time. In 2019, Apple released Project Catalyst that gave developers the tools to bring their high-quality iOS apps to macOS. So by this moment, many see iOS and macOS unification as something natural.
Run iOS apps on Mac. One of the biggest perks is that M1 systems are able to run iOS apps natively. This means you can install iPhone and iPad apps directly from the Mac App Store and launch them on your Apple Silicon Mac. Hello, Instagram! Oh wait, Instagram won’t be available actually — at least not for now.
How to run iOS apps on Mac with Apple Silicon
Apple developed a super simple flow for installing universal apps (aka Mac-iOS apps):
Access the Mac App Store on your Apple Silicon computer
Search for an app by name or keyword
By default, you’ll be offered the results for Mac apps. To get an iOS version, switch to the “iPhone and iPad apps” tab
Once you find your iOS app, click Get and install the app on your Mac.
Primarily, Apple Silicon’s focus is on iPad apps running on Mac. So in case there are both iPad and iPhone versions available, you’ll get the iPad one. It will run in a smaller window but you’ll be able to use all the usual Mac controls. iPhone apps on MacBook open in small windows (the size of an iPhone screen) and you won’t be able to resize them.
Reportedly, all default apps are available as iOS apps on Apple Silicon Mac. It’s trickier with third-party software, though. While Apple gave developers an option to opt out of Apple Silicon, some popular iOS apps will be missing on the new Mac.
Apps that won’t be available on Macs with Apple Silicon chip
Apple Silicon application compatibility is going to be a widely discussed topic for the next two years (the official M1 chip transition timeline). Many developers say they will make their apps universal in the future. The others don’t make any promises at all. Here’s the list of apps that won’t be available on the Mac App Store for Apple Silicon MacBook at the nearest time:
Google: Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive
Facebook: Messenger, Facebook app, Instagram, WhatsApp
Amazon’s Prime Video
Note that in case there’s a price difference and the developer decided not to unify their iOS and macOS app, you’ll only see the macOS version available on the Mac App Store.
Why so many developers opted out of Apple Silicon?
We can only guess. It’s not clear whether the listed developers will make their iOS apps available on the Mac App Store any time soon. For now, you’ll have to put up with the error message saying “Designed for iPad. Not verified for macOS.”
Some guess that “big developers” want to ensure their apps provide the best experience on Apple Silicon Macs — so it takes them time to roll out the necessary upgrades. But it also is possible that some apps just have been designed to be used exclusively on iOS, and there’s no intention on the developers’ side to change that.
Get universal apps on both Apple Silicon and Intel-based Macs
Enticing as it is, the transition to M1 systems has just started, and it will take time to make universal apps truly universal. Luckily, there are other ways to use apps across platforms without paying for every single license. Setapp is the best example.
Setapp is a cross-platform suite of apps available by subscription. It’s a whole different approach — Setapp doesn’t run iOS apps on Mac, but it lets you “unlock” iOS versions of apps via the Setapp Mac app. In other words, you buy a single membership and use apps on Mac and iPhone, limitlessly. The best thing is you don’t need an Apple Silicon Mac to make it work, your Intel-based Mac will do, too.
Here’s how you can unlock iOS apps with Setapp membership:
Install Setapp and open it on Mac
Navigate to “Available on iOS” in the sidebar
Open any app with an iOS companio and click on “iOS app” next to the Install button
Scan the QR code with your iOS device
You’ll be prompted to install the app on iPhone/iPad
Go back to Setapp on your Mac and scan another QR code
You’ll receive a notification on your iOS device saying you can now open and use the fully-unlocked version of the app you’ve just activated via Setapp.
By the way, if you want to use Setapp on Apple Silicon Mac, you can be sure most of the apps will work smoothly. This is why app curation rocks! Setapp picks only trusted developers and app updates usually arrive super fast. As of November 2020, 195 out of 206 Setapp apps work on Macs with the new M1 chip without any issues. You can read more on the compatibility of Setapp with Apple Silicon here.
Setapp’s all-access pass to 200+ apps is free for 7 days, then $9.99/month (Mac only) or $12.49/month (Mac + iPhone/iPad). It’s generally a great investment if you tend to purchase apps, because the cost of many apps in Setapp is a few times higher than the cost of a monthly subscription. And best of all, you don’t have to worry about Apple Silicon apps compatibility.