The move is the natural next step for a corporation that wants to control as much of the hardware production process as possible. Similar adjustments have been made on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The corporation currently has many generations of in-house designs for these devices, which it plans to employ for its line computers.
Apple has officially revealed the most important news of today’s WWDC launch. Tim Cook formally stated that Apple will produce its own CPUs for desktops and laptops, marking one of the most significant shifts in the company’s lengthy history of computing. Apple is shifting away from Intel CPUs and toward its own ARM-based chips, as has been predicted for years.
What’s more — as far as Apple is concerned — this move means its devices use a single processor architecture, which is a big win for cross-platform performance. Unsurprisingly, that also means you’ll be able to run iOS and iPadOS apps directly on the desktop, right out of the box — a big push forward for all of the work the company has been doing with Catalyst on macOS. Likely, however, they won’t function as well as those native apps.
Apple contends that its SOCs will be able to provide stronger performance, without sacrificing battery life — a pretty impressive change, if true. Also on-board is the sort of additional security it has offered on its mobile devices, along with improved graphical performance.
To ease the transition, Apple’s bringing out a new version of Rosetta — the program that helped make the transition from Power PC. Rosetta 2 will help make sure that apps that have yet to upgrade will still be able to work on the new processors. These will be key aspects of the newly announced macOS 11 Big Sur.
In spite of the move, however, the company says it’s making it easier for developers to create apps that work on old and new Macs alike — an important caveat given that it’s going to be a while before most users upgrade. A number of developers, including Microsoft, are already developing for the new architecture.
This being a developer conference, Apple also just announced a Developer Transition Kit to get devs started on the new Macs. The DTK is essentially a souped-up Mac Mini that will give people a head start before the systems actually arrive. The first ARM-based Macs are set to arrive later this year, with the full line transition taking two years. That means there are undoubtedly still some Intel-based systems on the way.
While Cook said the company will continue to support the older models, its seems worth holding out on an upgrade to see what the new systems have in store. No specific new systems were announced, but the 13-inch MacBook Pro is expected to be the first system to get the new silicon, with a redesigned iMac expected sometime early next year.
There are still plenty of unanswered questions on that front. After all, this was a well-polished keynote moving at breakneck speed. The company could only cram in so much. And it seems likely Apple is going to wait on specific product announcements to really drill down on what the new chips will mean in terms of the promised improvements to processing power and battery life.