This week, Apple revealed macOS Monterey, an update to its desktop operating system that will roll out this fall. It comes with a host of new features that the company Highlighted in his introductory presentation during his WWDC Event. But if you’re stuck on a Mac with an Intel chip, some of these improvements won’t be applied to your computer at all.
Apple computers were largely powered by Intel chips since 2006. Last November, the the company announced that he would be switch to its own M1 ARM-based chips. Now, with macOS Monterey, Apple has started to leave Intel behind.
As MacRumors spotted after Apple’s developer conference this week, the tiny footnotes at the very bottom of the MacOS Monterey overview page indicate that some new upgrades be available only on Mac with M1 chips. A portrait mode in FaceTime that lets you blur your background during calls will not be available for Intel Macs. Neither do Apple’s new LiveText features, which let you copy text directly from photos. Some of Apple’s redesigned Maps features, including a detailed city mode and the ability to manipulate an interactive globe model, will also be M1 exclusives.
“Apple has a habit of taking very bold steps if it helps to strengthen its ecosystem,” said Linn Huang, vice president of research at the Technology Analyst Group. IDC. “And it certainly looks like the start of something like that.”
While potentially frustrating for those who own a but the latest Mac, this bold move is likely less of a whim than the introduction of a “neural engine” – a long-standing feature of iPhones and iPads – in Apple’s proprietary desktop processors. This is Apple’s way of activating artificial intelligence capabilities that excel in image processing and text and speech recognition.
“Apple wants to harness the machine learning capabilities of its new M1 chips,” Patrick Moorhead, Founder and Senior Analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, said in an email. Moorhead says that while Intel has chips that could theoretically enable these features, Apple is focusing its efforts on its in-house silicon. “Therefore, Apple is probably only motivated to do the job for advanced processors.”
An Apple spokesperson said the portrait mode and live text features were designed specifically for Apple’s neural engine. Apple Maps features that are limited to M1 chips were designed for Apple silicon because of the M1’s balance of power and energy efficiency, according to Apple.
“Their arguments on the neural engine are very relevant,” said Huang. “But that doesn’t mean that none of this could be done on Intel with a little elbow grease.”
It makes sense that Apple is focusing on Apple. The search for self-produced silicon chips was a milestone for the company, giving it even more control over its hardware capabilities. But the transition will inevitably be a bit muddled. When Apple announced its break with Intel Last summer, he said it might take two years before every computer he makes is equipped with ARM processors. Developers who have been coding for Intel-based Mac systems since 2005 will need to make the switch. Apple helped lead the way with a software emulator called Rosetta 2 that helps developers translate their applications from Intel’s x86 architecture to Apple’s ARM-based systems. What’s more surprising about the feature exclusivity of macOS Monterey is that it means the first big bump in the road comes from Apple itself.