Following the expected reveal that Apple was going to transition the Mac from Intel to Apple Silicon, I started thinking about what this would mean for the x86 architecture more broadly. This architecture has been at the heart of desktop computing for forty years, and I think it’s unlikely that Apple’s implementation of its own chips won’t have wider implications on the computer industry. Based on my understanding of ARM – the architecture that Apple Silicon is loosely based on – I think it’s likely that x86′, and particularly and Intel’s, days as the dominant desktop chip standard are numbered.
If you’ve been a Mac user for a long time, you know that the community can be fickle. On one hand, there’s a consistent complaint that the Mac platform doesn’t get nearly enough attention from Apple compared to iOS/iPadOS. On the other hand, you know that this community is resistant to change. Every time there any significant changes to macOS’ look and feel, no matter how small, there’s seems to be immediate skepticism. The design changes coming to the Mac signify something bigger. It’s being introduced as part of a broader vision that will be brought forth when all Macs transition to Apple Silicon.
But change can be good. The changes coming to macOS Big Sur are divisive because the OS is clearly adopting a more iPad-like look and feel. It’s going to be different, and I would argue it’s a much more drastic design overhaul than the introduction of Yosemite in 2014. Many folks have focused on the iPad influences on the Mac, but I’d argue there’s more of a cross-pollination between these platforms. It’s clear to me that the platforms aren’t merging (at least not yet). But both are borrowing features from each other. This is an ecosystem play. These design changes will make it considerably easier to switch between the Mac and iPad, making owners of both happy campers. I’m not brave enough to install beta software on my primary machines, but from what I can tell macOS Big Sur and iPadOS 14 tells us a lot about the future of these platforms.
It’s no longer a rumour. Last week, Apple announced it was transitioning its entire line of Mac computers from Intel chips to its custom “Apple Silicon” over the next two years. Why is this transition so important? And, what will this mean for the Mac and the computer industry moving forward?