Google Chrome for Apple M1 Macs released (again)

Chrome for Apple's M1 Macs has been released, a specially-developed version of the browser for Apple Silicon, a day after Google had to pull down its first attempt over stability issues. Attempts to download Chrome now bring up two different options: you can either have Chrome for a Mac with an Intel chip, or Chrome for a Mac with an Apple chip.

The native app promises performance improvements, rather than relying on Apple's Rosetta 2 emulation as the x86 Intel version would require. Apple has made some big claims about Rosetta's capabilities – including suggestions that emulated apps can actually run faster on M1-based Macs than they do on Intel versions – but the company's clear hope is for native software to become the norm.

Google's Chrome team was early to that process, quietly pushing out a native M1 version of the browser yesterday. Quickly spotted by Chrome users, it ended in an aborted rollout after reports of unexpected crashes on M1-based models like the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13, and Mac mini. The Chrome team promised a second attempt today, and that's now been launched.

Those who have one of the newest Macs, and who use Chrome, shouldn't really see much in the way of differences beyond speed. Both versions will benefit from Google's latest improvements in performance and memory utilization, Chrome 87 being pushed out earlier this week with some significant promises.

Chrome's CPU usage could be cut by a fifth, Google's team said at the time, while battery usage could see a 1.25 hour improvement. Desktop Chrome starts faster, and loads pages faster, Google promised, while new actions had been added along with improvements to how tabs can be managed.

The challenge, of course, is Safari. Apple's browser has the benefit of its developers being in-house with the designers of Apple Silicon itself, and the Cupertino firm hasn't been shy in promising advantages in performance and memory use when Mac owners stick with the homegrown software.