Before the iMac Pro was released, there was a lot of speculation that it was part of a trend toward creating a “hybrid Mac” that is driven by both an Intel processor and an Apple-designed ARM chip like those found in other Apple devices. The iMac Pro is definitely a hybrid of a sort, but probably not the one people were expecting. With the T2, Apple is using its chip-design prowess to take more control over parts of the Mac hardware that were previously outsourced to other controllers, and reaping the benefits of integrating them all together.
The iMac Pro isn’t running iOS apps, but it does get to take advantage of most of the work Apple has done to bolster the security of iOS devices and enhance the quality of photos and video taken by iPhone cameras. Apple will almost certainly continue to push this technology into more future Mac models, because it allows Apple to use the work it’s already done on iOS to improve the features and security of the Mac.
For years, the advancement of the Mac has been tied closely with the evolution of iOS. Many of the hallmark macOS features dating back to Lion originated on the iPhone and iPad, and came to the Mac – in part – to provide greater feature parity between the differing platforms.
While the iPhone’s influence on the Mac has previously played out primarily in the realm of software, that influence is clearly extending to hardware now. The 2016 MacBook Pro took the first step with its T1 chip powering the Touch Bar, but the T2 is another significant step forward. Though its benefits are largely invisible to the average user, Snell’s overview of the T2 and its extensive reach throughout the system makes clear that the Touch Bar was just the beginning of ARM-enhanced Macs.