WWDC’s traditional opening keynote speech happened last night. Weeks later than usual, it was also (because of COVID-19) a subdued pre-recorded video instead of an applause-drenched live performance on stage.
New versions of Apple’s operating systems were unveiled, incorporating some of our most hotly awaited features, such as (in
iOS 14) incoming calls and Siri not taking up the entire iPhone screen, as well as the ability to put widgets directly on the home screen. The latter is probably the biggest news so far for the iOS home screen during its 13-year history.
Other changes were more surprising, such as a new design for macOS. Apple has also now completely left behind macOS’s old X or 10 version numbers, and finally switched to version 11.
macOS 11.0 Big Sur will be released to the public this autumn.
Arguably the biggest news is that Apple is replacing Intel processors with ARM-based processors: a brain transplant for the Mac that isn’t going to happen overnight.
Part of the reasoning certainly comes from a dissatisfaction with Intel, which has not delivered on schedule and which could barely match the rapid development happening on the ARM side.
But some of it is also for convenience and of course, primarily, financial reasons. Suddenly, the iPhone processors can be used in more devices. Apple can reduce its development costs over more products, and won’t have to pay Intel high prices for its processors.
For two years, Apple will replace Intel with “Apple Silicon”. There are still several Intel Macs to be released from Apple’s factories before that relationship ends, but the
first Mac with an ARM processor on the inside should be launched before the year is out.
Maybe it will be a
new version of the MacBook 12in, a computer that had a compact shape but was not very fast. Or it could be a 13in MacBook Pro, or a
brand-new iMac with a new design. Here the rumours start to fall apart.
It’s gratifying that giants like Microsoft and Adobe are already on board with Office and Creative Cloud, which can already be run directly on a Mac with an iPhone processor, but there are significantly more third-party applications than need to work on the Macs of the future.
At the same time, Apple is now taking its entire ecosystem of iOS apps to the Mac. This doesn’t remove the need for proper professional software written for Mac, but it’s probably a competitive advantage that all apps for iPhone and iPad can be run directly on a Mac.
Important questions remain
However, the most exciting – and important – questions and details remain a mystery. When Apple no longer needs to design its Mac around Intel, for example, what does a Mac look like?
Energy consumption and heat generation are likely to be lower with Apple Silicon, so will that mean computers with better battery life, or the same battery life but a smaller and lighter chassis?
And what will the prices look like? Apple will certainly save a lot of money by using its own parts, but will customers see the benefit?
Perhaps most importantly, will the Macs of the future be faster than the current Intel versions? We’ve not received any indications as to what performance benefits will come from the transition.
A major and exciting step for Mac, away from Intel and even deeper into Apple’s own ecosystem, has now been revealed. But many important questions remain unanswered about what the transition will mean for consumers and developers.
Read about all the
product announcements at WWDC 2020. We have
everything you need to know about Apple Silicon here, plus
why Apple now needs to ditch Intel here.
This article originally appeared on
Macworld Sweden. Translation by David Price.