Apple today announced during its WWDC 2020 Keynote that it will transition its Mac lineup to run on Apple Silicon in the place of Intel processors. The first Mac running on Apple’s custom processors should be available by the end of 2020, and the company expects the transition to be completed within two years.
The transition means all of Apple’s products will use a common architecture, making it easier for developers to write and optimize their apps for the entire Apple ecosystem. The company today demonstrated the new features of its upcoming macOS Big Sur operating system on a Mac running on Apple’s A12Z Bionic System on a Chip (SoC).
Developers can easily convert their existing apps to run on Apple silicon, and for the first time, developers can make their iOS and iPadOS apps available on the Mac without any modifications.
To help developers hit the ground running for developing for Apple silicon, Apple is launching the Universal App Quick Start Program, which provides access to documentation, forums support, beta versions of macOS Big Sur and Xcode 12, and the limited use of a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), a Mac development system based on Apple’s A12Z Bionic System on a Chip (SoC).
Apple will continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Mac for years to come, and still has Intel-based Macs in its product pipeline,
“From the beginning, the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing. Today we’re announcing our transition to Apple silicon, making this a historic day for the Mac,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever. I’ve never been more excited about the future of the Mac.”
Apple is offering a range of technologies to make the transition to Apple silicon smooth and seamless. With everything built into Xcode 12, such as native compilers, editors, and debugging tools, most developers will be able to get their apps running in a matter of days. Using Universal 2 application binaries, developers will be able to easily create a single app that taps into the native power and performance of the new Macs with Apple silicon, while still supporting Intel-based Macs.
The translation technology of Rosetta 2 will allow users to run existing Mac apps that have not yet been updated, including those with plug-ins. Virtualization technology allows users to run Linux. Developers can also make their iOS and iPadOS apps available on the Mac without any modifications.
Apple Developer Program members can start moving their apps to Apple silicon today by applying for the Universal App Quick Start Program. The program provides access to documentation, forums support, beta versions of macOS Big Sur and Xcode 12, and includes the limited use of a DTK, which will enable developers to build and test their Universal 2 apps. The DTK, which must be returned to Apple at the end of the program, consists of a Mac mini with Apple’s A12Z Bionic SoC inside and desktop specs, including 16GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and a variety of Mac I/O ports. Developers can apply to the program at developer.apple.com, and the total cost of the program is $500.