Updated Aug 6. Article originally posted Aug 5.
A new MacBook is coming and Apple’s geekerati can start to get excited. Not only can they expect a surprise refresh to the MacBook Air design, but there are signs that Apple has decided this will be first consumer Mac to use MacOS on ARM.
Aug 6 update: Today saw Apple release a public beta of the next version of MacOS. With the moniker ‘Big Sur’, this is the first chance the majority of Mac owners have to experience MacOS 11. It’s also the first version of MacOS to support Intel and ARM. Of course there are no ARM Macs or MacBooks out in the wild yet (developers can apply to Apple for a Developer Transition Kit which includes an ARM-powered Mac mini, but these remain the property of Apple).
What’s important to note is that MacOS 11 will be supporting Mac machines going back to early 2013. Even though the platform will push ahead with ARM, the continued support of Intel needs to be considered and demonstrated. Offering the new OS for seven year old machines is a good place to start.
Last week saw regulators in China and Denmark publish Apple’s submissions for a 49.9 watt-hour battery in a new device. The wattage of the battery does not fit with any iPhone or iPad pattern, and the 4380 mAh capacity is a pretty close fit to the battery that powers the current MacBook Air.
Now the battery has popped up again.
Firstly, it has picked up Safety Korea Certification, adding to the regulatory filings that any new device needs ahead of a public launch. I wouldn’t necessarily take battery certification as a sign that the laptop is nearly ready. It’s likely that Apple has locked in the physical design early, therefore the battery paperwork can be dealt with now.
The Korean certification also has an image of the battery, and anyone who has stripped down a MacBook Air (or watched along on YouTube) will recognise the shape. 91mobiles reports:
“A MacBook Air battery with model number A2389 has received the Safety Korea certification this week…Now live image (sic) of the battery on the Safety Korea site confirms that it is indeed for an upcoming MacBook Air.”
Given the specifications update the MacBook Air received earlier this year (along with the removal of the hated butterfly keyboard for Apple’s ‘Magic’ keyboard), its’ unlikely that Tim Cook and his team would roll out something brand new just six months later unless it was something pretty special.
The first ARM-powered Mac would be something pretty special. The MacBook Air is targeted towards those looking for something lightweight with long battery life, and is capable without ridiculous amounts of computing power. Which is pretty much what a switch from Intel to ARM can deliver.
And we’re expecting it before the end of 2020.