The good functioning of macOS on ARM processors is not the difficult part

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Mark Gurman at Bloomberg has confirmation that we are all waiting: Apple would use a 5nm 12-core ARM processor in a Mac 2021. There is a lot of time to work on the details, but get both the deployment and the technical side of this transition will not be easy. We have seen a generation of very bad Windows 10 ARM laptops come out. Then we got the excellent Surface Pro X, which still has very serious software compatibility issues.

The direct and direct way in which Apple handled the latest Mac processor architecture switch – from PowerPC to Intel – went very well. Although I admit, it is easy to say that now that the complications of this change are so far behind us. Yet, if I remember correctly, everyone knew what to expect, knew it would take a minute, and was so eager to change that he was ready to deal with the hassle it caused.

If you’ve never watched Steve Jobs 2005 announcement of the Intel Switch for Mac, I highly recommend it. He strongly advocates for the need for the transition, outlines the benefits to users, details how it will happen, and makes a few jokes during the process. He’s not trying to hide the rabbit, he’s just explaining that Apple couldn’t make the computers it wanted to make on the old PowerPC chips.

Making these new ARM chips that Gurman has detailed must be a huge, multi-year effort, but it won’t do any good if the software doesn’t work well – or not at all – on them. And even then, the truth is that simply porting macOS and Apple’s own apps to ARM isn’t the hard part.

The hard part is communicating clearly to users and developers what the change means to them – and providing them with the tools to deal with it. What software will work, will not work, and will work slowly through emulation? What will developers have to do to transfer their applications? Is porting an application to ARM worth it and cost?

Apple doesn’t like to pre-announce anything, but I don’t know how you make a damn processor transition without giving developers a warning. In fact, I think it would be utter madness not to inform the developers as soon as possible. Apple was ready to announce and share basic information about its Mac Pro plans long before this release, so there is a recent precedent for the pre-announcement.

This year’s WWDC would have been a good time to do it, but who knows if its online version only will change this plan (if it was, you know, the plan). Many developers would certainly benefit from one-on-one meetings with Apple engineers after the official transition.

This is just the communication and publication strategy. When it comes to real technical solutions, I’m sure there aren’t easy answers either. Windows on ARM has performance issues with emulated applications and availability issues with applications that do not work with its emulation. It is entirely possible that Mac on ARM may experience similar problems.

And while I’m sure Apple hoped that the Catalyst apps would be a piece of the puzzle, to date, they’ve been pretty underwhelming. Even with a massive turnaround, they should be just one of the many strategies for getting fast apps on the new ARM-based macOS. Surely it will require some sort of emulation layer for Intel-based applications. And I have to assume that the many development tools that Apple has pushed recently (like Swift) will ease the transition for application creators.

Despite this, there is still a lot of work to do for Apple and also for application developers, who will at some point have to deal with this new processor architecture. Hopefully this work will also provide new opportunities. I would love nothing more than hearing no one (including myself) complain that Adobe applications are unavailable or painfully slow because there are many native ARM alternatives.

There are more questions than answers, and until we have a better idea of ​​what Apple plans for software compatibility, it’s hard to say which would be the right answers in the first place.

So the best I can do is offer some very unsolicited advice: don’t be afraid to Osborne your current Macs, Apple. You have the money. Advertise as soon as you can and do everything you can to support developers, young and old. If you want to avoid the stigma of Windows face (and always face) with its ARM version, make sure that macOS on ARM absolutely flies. Then invest in development tools and developer relationships and double it.

There is a marketing term called “surprise and delight”. I’m sure you’ve heard it. Regarding the transition from Mac to ARM, I suggest forgetting the surprise part – it will make it all the more difficult to get everyone to the fun part.

Technical news

Motorola returns to flagship phones with Edge Plus.. Chaim Gartenberg has a first glimpse of the newest and largest Motorola phone. The standout feature is the screen that wraps around the sides. I have yet to see anyone really nail down this idea in a way that was not ultimately boring. But Motorola has always had non-intrusive software interventions on Android, so let’s hope it got it right.

The result is the $ 999 Edge Plus, which has a 6.7-inch FHD + OLED panel, a Snapdragon 865 processor, 5G support with mmWave radios, a refresh rate of 90 Hz, 12 GB of RAM, 256 GB. internal storage, 5000mAh battery and even a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is also a triple rear camera system, led by a 108 megapixel sensor that seems to compete (at least on paper) with phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra or the Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha.

The Verizon exclusivity is stupid, however. I was hoping the Razr exclusivity would be unique, but there is clearly some sort of agreement here. I wouldn’t want to blame Moto for negotiating if it needs it, but as we enter an era of only three major US carriers, I’m concerned that we’ll also get another era of locked phones and exclusives.

Wi-Fi achieves its biggest upgrade in 20 years. It’s called “Wi-Fi 6E,” and the difference from Wi-Fi 6 is that it will support the 6 GHz band, not just 2.4 and 5. This is great news, but i have a special meaning to call it “6E”. The advantage of Wi-Fi 6 is that it got rid of the alphabetical soup a / b / g / etc. I understand that adding another group technically does not technically increase the specifications the way we thought, but I understand even better that it doesn’t matter. They should have just called it Wi-Fi 7. And given the weight of this additional group, it certainly deserves a number.

Google Duo video calls are about to look much better.

Comments

Apple iPhone SE review: everything you need. Here’s my review of the iPhone SE, in case you missed it. My hunch that this is great value has been confirmed: it is. Whatever blows I will have against (low light photography and average battery life) are far outweighed by the benefits: fast processor, upgrades for years, build quality.

The iPhone SE sets a new high bar for phones under $ 500, which Android phone makers will soon be trying to remove. Samsung is making a somewhat late big effort with its new A-series phones. In the US market, at least, all of its marketing heat has been behind the S and Note series, but the A-series is making huge volume. There will be new ones soon. Then there is also the next Pixel 4A, which, like all pixels, has been so fully disclosed that there is little mystery left.

These Android phones will likely beat the iPhone SE in certain categories, but it remains to be seen whether they can beat the iPhone as a whole. It will not be easy.

Logitech’s Combo Touch is the magic keyboard for everyone else. Phil Esposito leads our technical video team, but in his spare time, he reviews keyboard cases for iPad. This one in particular looks pretty good! If it was available to the next generation iPad pros, I would seriously consider it on the magic keyboard.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review: great sound, now with noise cancellation. Jon Porter reviews:

The double whammy of excellent sound quality and ANC performance makes the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 a great pair of headphones. Again, at $ 300, you expect as much, especially since it makes them more expensive than other noise-canceling headphones like the AirPods Pro ($ 249) or Sony WF-1000XM3 ($ 229.99). Sennheiser headphones roughly win this price in terms of raw quality, but it’s a shame to see them lacking in features like wireless charging.

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