iPhone and iPad apps can now run on Mac computers with the new M1 chip

MacBook Air 2020
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple had a next-gen processor chip and three new computer models to show off at its 'One More Thing' event yesterday, and we also got some more details on macOS Big Sur, rolling out tomorrow (November 12).

The latest macOS upgrade will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps natively, Apple has revealed, as long as the Mac is also running the Apple silicon M1 chip. At the moment, that's the new MacBook Air, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the new Mac mini.

These iOS and iPadOS apps will work even if the developers haven't specifically adapted them to run on desktop and laptop computers. Apple has built tools to help developers get their mobile apps ready for macOS, but it's no longer strictly necessary.

If developers do modify their mobile apps properly, they'll also be able to run on Intel-based Macs running macOS Big Sur, and the experience should be better on M1-based computers too – but in the latter case they'll run anyway.

Apps entertainment

However, this doesn't mean that you can buy a new Apple device running the M1 chip and load up any iPhone or iPad app you like. As noted by TechCrunch, big names like Google and Facebook have opted out of making their apps available.

Developers still need to approve their mobile apps for use on the Mac, even if no actual recoding is required – but it seems it's not an automatic choice. No doubt we'll hear more about this as macOS Big Sur rolls out, and the M1-based computers start shipping.

During its event yesterday, Apple showcased a number of iOS and iPadOS apps that will be available and ready to go on macOS Big Sur running on an M1 chip, including the video streaming portal HBO Max and the smash hit game Among Us.

Meanwhile, Apple is also rolling out yet another developer tool called Rosetta 2 to help app makers get their desktop apps ready for Macs running both Intel and M1 processors. Photoshop, for example, should be fully optimized by next year, Adobe says.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.