Can Android create a rival for new Macs with an ARM processor?

Apple has just renewed its computers in Spain with the new generation of Macbook Air, Macbook Pro and Mac Mini. These laptops don't offer a big change in the external look, but they offer a real leap at the level of internal components as they are the first Mac with a processor designed by Apple.

In an era when the PC seemed less important than ever, Apple has completely changed its operating system, reaffirming that in the middle of the post PC era, computers are not only still here, but will remain here for a long time.

Which raises the question below. Can Android offer an alternative to Apple's new computers? What could it be better at? And worse?

So is the new beast that will bring the Macbooks to life, and the secret of this whole revolution

The biggest protagonist in Apple's event is the new Apple M1 processor. If the A14 they introduced with the new iPhone 12 and iPad Air was already spectacular, this chip sets a new level of performance when it comes to processors within the ARM architecture.

With a manufacturing process of 5 nanometers, this chip has 16 billion transistors compared to the A14's nearly 12 billion transistors. The number of transistors is not a direct equivalence in performance, but it is a sign that it is a chip with a higher degree of complexity.

This is the first challenge an Android-based computer would face that wanted to compete against the new Macs. This would mean taking the best Android processor and having it take an excessive quality leap.

Is there such an option compatible with Android? In the race with ARM computers, Qualcomm got ahead of Apple last year with the Snapdragon 8cx, a processor based on the Snapdragon 855 that arrived with the Surface Pro X and which in its second generation has had a slight improvement. Without having concrete figures, so that an Android alternative can compete in pure performance.

Creating a wish list for a computer that competes against Macbooks

One of the aspects that Apple has best polished is the infographics of its products, in which they show us the key aspects of the experience of their new products. In a way, this list of features serves to give us an idea of what a computer should aspire to when it comes to rivalling the new Mac. So let's go with this peculiar list:

  • Unified Memory Architecture: One of the best features of the Apple M1 processor is that it has integrated RAM into the SoC itself, allowing faster access to RAM for both the CPU and GPU.
  • It's feasible to see him in the competition.
  • Neural Engine: The neural processors integrated into the chip are one of the most differential factors compared to a traditional processor. As applications demand more AI-dependent tasks, the more impact it will have on behalf of the M1.
  • ARM processors for Android already have their own UGUs, so it's feasible for ARM processors we see on Android to rival.
  • Mac OS Big Sur: Unique to Apple and authentic added value of Macs. If you want Mac OS and want to use Mac OS apps, it doesn't make any sense to search or want a rival.
  • Long battery life and performance per watt: These two features come hand in hand thanks to the ARM architecture and the 5-nanometer manufacturing process.
  • The Surface Pro X has already demonstrated a high level of energy efficiency, even though it used Windows, a system that at the energy efficiency level does not size the Mac OS or Android.
  • Wi-Fi 6: It has been present for over a year on the best Android mobiles.
  • Advanced ISP for the camera: It is also found on mobile processors available for Android.
  • iPhone and iPad apps: An exclusive for Apple, although equivalent to Android.
  • Universal applications: Apple says that with its new compiler, Macs with Apple M1 will be able to enjoy applications designed for Intel processors.

Maybe not Android, but how about Chromebooks?

Knowing how capable Mac OS is, Android may be too far from competing against an Apple laptop. However, if we could see a rival up to the Google ecosystem, and this would be Chrome OS, always considering that there are use cases where you won't be able to rival a Mac or a PC. These exclusivities aside, the truth is that we might see a Google PixelBook that was good enough to be an alternative to Macbooks.

First of all, Chrome OS is a system that from birth is ready for the ARM architecture. Most ARM-processing Chromebooks have indeed been focused on the low-end, but there's nothing to stop Google from taking the best Snapdragon available and integrating it into your system.

Even if you don't enjoy native apps, we would have a complete web browsing experience just like any desktop operating system. As an add-on, we also have access to the Google Play Store and all the Android apps that we already have.

Unlike Mac OS, Chrome is adapted for touchscreens, convertible devices, and stylus. In the Apple ecosystem you must choose a computer with Mac or tablet with iPad, so 2-in-1 convergence and the ability to add mobile data with a SIM would have the potential to be the most important factor in choosing a new computer.

It seems unlikely that we will see a traditional rival competing against the new MacBooks with ARM, and the fact that it shares the same processor architecture does not directly imply that Android may rival Mac OS as the headline's question might raise. However, it's great news and Apple's movement can lead to direct rivals, even if we don't know alternatives capable of shining in other respects.

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