Mac Apple SiliconSource: Apple

At WWDC Apple announced officially that it will begin transitioning all of its Mac lineups to ARM, or how Apple is branding it: Apple Silicon. This change has been years in the making and Apple hopes to establish a common architecture across all of its devices starting at the end of this year.

macOS Big Sur will make it possible for developers to convert their existing apps to run on Apple's silicon. iPhone and iPad apps will also be able to run on the Mac without needing any special modifications.

Apple is also launching the Universal App Quick Start Program, which will give developers early access to macOS Big Sur, Xcode 12, and a special temporary Developer Transition Kit (DTK) that includes a Mac mini with an A12Z Bionic system-on-chip (SoC) installed.

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Coming soon to a Mac near you

The first publicly available Mac with Apple silicon is scheduled to be available by the end of this year. Apple hopes to complete the transition to Apple silicon across all of its Mac lineup within two years.

If your Mac doesn't come with Apple silicon, don't worry. Apple will support Intel-based Macs for years (hopefully more than 5 years).

Building custom silicon for Mac will make it possible for Apple to take advantage of all things iPhone and iPad have been excelling at for years, including better GPU performance, more powerful processing for pro apps and games, and access to Apple's Neural Engine (better Siri on Mac, for example).

Smoothing the transition

Apple is launching three major tools for App developers to help with the transition to Apple silicon. Universal 2, Rosetta 2, and Virtualization.

With Universal 2, developers can create one app to rule them all ... that is, one app that will be universally available natively across Apple silicon Macs and Intel Macs. This will cut down on how much time developers have to spend creating and updating apps. They won't have to work on two separate sets of code for two different types of Mac.

Rosetta 2 will allow users to run existing Mac apps that haven't been updated yet, including apps with plug-ins. This will help give developers time to update to Apple silicon if they're not ready by the end of this year when new Macs will begin rolling out with ARM.

Virtualization allows users to run Linux, even on Macs without Intel inside.

For developers only

The QuickStart Program Kit, which includes early access to macOS Big Sur and Xcode 12, will help developers transition to universally supported (Apple silicon and Intel) apps quicker.

Developers will have access to documentation and sample code, private forums on Apple's Developer site, DTS support incidents, and hands-on lab access.

The Developer Transition Kit (DTK) will include a Mac mini with an A12Z SoC inside. It will have 16GB of memory and 512 SSD storage. It will run macOS Big Sur and XCode 12. This DTK Mac mini will be on loan from Apple and will need to be returned at the end of the program.

The total cost of the QuickStart Program, which includes the loan of the Mac Mini is $500.

Developers can sign up at Apple's developer portal.

WWDC 2020

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