Apple has confirmed that it will switch its Mac laptops and desktops to their ARM-based processors.
The move means that Macs will run on the same chip type as the company’s iPhones and iPads, rather than Intel.
Intel had encountered problems in producing its designs, leading it to present public apologies to computer manufacturers.
Apple’s challenge will be to complete the transition smoothly and convince third-party developers to update their apps accordingly.
“We plan to ship our first Apple Silicon Mac later this year,” said CEO Tim Cook, adding that it will probably take two years for his entire product line to make the leap.
Apple said it has already developed native versions of several apps, including Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. And now the apps for iPhone and iPad can be run on computers.
Apple claimed that Microsoft was working on an optimized version of Office and Adobe a version of Photoshop.
Other developers should be able to rebuild their apps to make a version work “in a matter of days,” said Craig Federighi, the company’s chief software officer. He added that old apps will be automatically translated at installation time to run, even if they don’t work as well.
“Apple’s motivations for this include reducing dependency on Intel, reducing costs and increasing the performance of its silicon and greater flexibility and agility when it comes to future products,” commented Geoff Blaber of the company. CCS Insight consultancy.
“Embracing ARM and making its hardware more consistent on the iPhone, iPad and Mac is a strategic necessity, but there will be inevitable bumps along the way.”
In 2006, Apple successfully transitioned from IBM-Motorola PowerPC processors to Intel’s x86 family.
However, some software has never been updated and cannot be easily run on today’s Mac computers as Apple has lost support for running it in emulation in the 2011 version of its Mac operating system.
Microsoft already allows Windows 10 to run on Intel and ARM-based processors and looks set to continue supporting both chip architectures.
However, it is unclear whether Apple will do the same.
As a result, some people who are considering purchasing one of their laptops or desktops may decide to postpone a purchase until their first ARM-based computers go on sale. This could affect sales both at Apple and in the development studios that build software for the platform.
Apple is the fourth largest PC maker, according to market research firm Gartner, behind Lenovo, HP and Dell.
The company claimed to have over 100 million active Mac users. In June 2005, when it first announced the move to Intel, the figure was around 12.5 million.
Existing Mac owners will see changes to the next MacOS operating system – called Big Sur – that Apple has claimed to have marked its biggest redesign to date.
Other announcements at WWDC included the possibility of using an iPhone as a replacement for a car key by transmitting an NFC (near-field communication) signal to unlock the doors and start the engine.
Initially this will be limited to some new BMWs, but the company has said it intended to expand to other models in time.
App developers will also need to provide additional information about the data collected about users so that Apple can view them a summary before installing the software.
One of the biggest changes to the iPhone’s iOS14 operating system will be a resizing of the main screen.
Apps can now be automatically organized into folders containing:
- recommended apps based on past habits
- recently downloaded items
- themed downloads, such as games
In addition, the company is updating its “widgets” – blocks that show a small reduced app window – so that they can be placed between the icons of other programs. Examples included weather forecasts, news, and calendar meetings. Android already has something like this.
Another new Android-like feature is the introduction of App Clip, which allows you to quickly download part of a program. These must be less than 10 megabytes in size and can be activated via an NFC transmission or by scanning a QR code.
The suggested uses included the possibility of ordering a drink in a bar or paying for a parking space.
Apple is also publishing a new app called Translate which performs offline language translations, offering an alternative to Google Translate.
It will initially support 11 languages, including English, Mandarin, French, German and Arabic.
The United Kingdom and Ireland will be among the countries that will have access to a revised version of its Maps app, which offers more detailed views of roads and routes than before, as well as new directions and cycle routes for electric cars passing stations charging.
And its MeMoji cartoon-like characters now feature new style options, including adding protective masks.
The iPad iPadOS tablet operating system will also benefit from numerous improvements to the Pencil stylus.
- conversion of words and numbers written into typed text
- detection of characters in both Chinese and English, with the possibility of converting both appropriately within the same scribbled line
- automatic reordering of drawings
The next version of WatchOS adds sleep monitoring functionality to the company’s smartwatch – which will be based on a user’s movements in bed – as well as the ability to determine when the owner is washing their hands to confirm whether they have done it for enough to long to help protect against Covid-19.
In addition, the wearable device will allow you to share and install third-party “cured” watch faces and the Training app, which has now been renamed Activities, will track calorie consumption for various dance styles.
Apple’s AirPod Pro earphones will capture spatial audio to recreate a cinema-style surround sound experience.
And its Apple TV will allow third-party video doorbells to get facial recognition when the video feed is sent to the set-top box.
It will only work with the owner’s family members and friends who have been tagged in advance.