During Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced that it will be moving the Mac platform to its own “Apple Silicon” beginning this year and with macOS Big Sur. This began with the iPhone, Apple began creating its own ARM-based System on Chip designs in order to optimize performance and efficiency.
This isn’t the first time that Apple has made a processor change. Originally, all Macs used Motorola 680X0 CPUS, and then the company made a switch to the PowerPC chips made by Apple, IBM and Motorola. In the 2000s, Apple switched the Mac platform away from PowerPC to Intel chips. It made this easy for developers and users by creating Universal, a way for developers to create one binary that ran on both PowerPC and Intel. Now Apple introduces Universal 2, which creates a single binary that will run both on Intel and Apple systems.
So far, it appears to be quite simple for developers to move their code to Universal 2, Microsoft Office natively runs on Apple Silicon, as well as Adobe Lightroom and PhotoShop and Apple’s own Final Cut Pro. All of the macOS Big Sur default apps are Universal 2 apps, so they’ll run equally as well on Intel and Apple Silicon Macs.
Although we’ll need to listen in on the specific macOS session on virtualization, it appears that the switch to Apple Silicon will also improve virtual environments, especially for Linux.
Also, iPhone and iPad apps will run unmodified on the new Macs. Once the Apple Silicon Macs are available, you will be able to load any iPhone or iPad app and it will run natively on the Mac.
For developers, Apple announced a QuickStart program for shifting apps over to Apple Silicon. There’s even a hardware developer transition kit (DTK) available, with a Mac mini included that uses the Apple A12Z chip used in the iPad Pro. Developers can apply for the QuickStart program and order the DTK today.
The first Apple Silicon Macs will ship this fall, and Apple expects all Macs to be running on their own SoCs within two years.