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Developers can now run macOS apps in an Amazon EC2 instance running on an Intel Mac mini

Photo is of a Mac mini (2018) taken for iMore Mac mini review
Photo is of a Mac mini (2018) taken for iMore Mac mini review (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Amazon has launched AWS EC2 Mac instances.
  • Developers can run macOS apps in EC2 remotely, allowing them to run Xcode and more.
  • It all runs on Mac minis powered by Intel, not Apple silicon.

Amazon has announced that it is now offering EC2 Mac instances (opens in new tab), giving people who develop on Apple's platforms the chance to get everything into the cloud. Similar to how MacStadium also works, Amazon is hosting everything on a fleet of Mac minis, according to the company.

The move means that developers can now run native macOS apps in an EC2 instance for the first time, potentially opening the door to new and improved workflows.

Amazon EC2 Mac instances enable customers to run on-demand macOS workloads in the cloud for the first time, extending the flexibility, scalability, and cost benefits of AWS to all Apple developers. With EC2 Mac instances, developers creating apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Safari can provision and access macOS environments within minutes, dynamically scale capacity as needed, and benefit from AWS's pay-as-you-go pricing.

However, anyone hoping to sample that Apple silicon life are going to be left disappointed. Amazon says that the Mac minis it's using are all running Intel Core i7 processors. Oh, and they don't run macOS Big Sur. Not yet, at least. Each machine does at least have 32GB of RAM and a 10Gb/s network connection.

Powered by AWS Nitro System, EC2 Mac instances are built on Apple Mac mini computers featuring Intel Core i7 processors, and offer customers a choice of both macOS Mojave (10.14) and macOS Catalina (10.15) operating systems, with support for macOS Big Sur (11.0) coming soon.

The use of Amazon's EC2 instances gives developers access to the other AWS features that people enjoy, too. That includes things like elastic storage and Amazon Machine Images, to name just two. Instances can be spun up in Europe (Ireland), US East (Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (Oregon), and Asia Pacific (Singapore) at the time of writing.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.