Apple’s yearly WWDC event usually heralds the changes coming to its various operating systems. Various speakers reveal new features of the latest macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS (did we forget any?). This year also included major changes to Apple’s computer hardware as well.
So Long Intel, Hello ARM
Apple unveiled its own ARM-based processors this week. Since 2005, Apple has included Intel processors in all of its computers. The first Mac with an Apple processor will be released later this year. We’ll still see new Intel-based Macs for a little while. Over the next two years, all new Macs will switch to an Apple ARM processor.
Apple’s new chips are designed to offer better performance with lower power consumption. Intel’s performance gains have lagged over the last several years. According to Apple’s Johnny Srouji, the new Apple chips offer “a whole new level of performance.”
Developers will be working to make sure their software runs on the new ARM architecture. Adobe and Microsoft have stated that their apps will be ready at launch along with most of Apple’s own macOS apps. Older apps will still run thanks to Rosetta 2, an emulation layer built just for this. Performance won’t be quite as good, but at least your older apps will still work.
A bonus feature comes along with the processor shift. iPhone and iPads are powered by ARM-based processors already. Thanks to this, many iOS and iPadOS apps will run natively on macOS. On a new ARM-based Mac, users can install these apps from the App Store. Apple announced that even in-app purchases will carry over to your Mac.
So Long OS X, Hello OS 11
After leaving Apple in 1985, Steve Jobs formed a new company called NeXT. The greatest success of NeXT was NeXTSTEP, its UNIX-based operating system. In 1996, Apple bought NeXT specifically for that operating system. 5 years later, Apple replaced OS 9 with OS X.
Since then, OS X has been at the heart of every Mac… until now. Nearly 20 years later, Apple will finally move onto a new version number. Dubbed Big Sur, the latest update is officially named macOS 11.0.
Apple is calling it their biggest design change since OS X came out. They’ve changed window shapes, dock icons, and the colors throughout the operating system. Users will find a new Control Center very similar to what’s found on Apple mobile devices. The Notification Center has been overhauled to offer more information at a glance.
Among many other changes, Messages and Maps have been retooled. However, Safari received the most attention by far. Safari on Big Sur will offer a customizable start page. Safari extensions will be installed via the App Store. Tabs have been redesigned, page translation is built directly into the browser, and Safari will now warn you if a password you enter has been found in a data breach.
Apple is definitely focused on the future with laptops and desktops. For Mac users, changes in both hardware and software mean interesting times are ahead.