Apple took the plunge. The transition from using Intel processors to Macs officially begins. The first Mac with Apple Silicon will be delivered by the end of 2020, the rest of the product range will be changed over the next two years.
Whether it's a new MacBook Pro or a new iMac, should you wait until you buy one of these new Apple computers through the latest Intel options?
The risk of early adoption
It is usually a good idea to avoid buying first generation products. They are usually experimental, full of reliability problems, and more limited than their predecessors. So it's not wise to buy something like the first Samsung Galaxy Fold. Let the early adopters eradicate the potential problems and buy the next generation.
This conventional wisdom could certainly be applied to these new Apple Silicon-based Macs. There are many problems that can arise, even due to the limited information we currently have.
The first problem is the designs themselves. We don't know much about what these first Apple Silicon Macs will look like. We know that a 14-inch MacBook Pro with mini LED is in the works, as well as a revised iMac – and rumors may be the first Macs we see. These are exciting products in and of themselves, and Apple says the transition to ARM will enable fresh, new designs.
Mac fans are likely to be wary of such new designs. While iterations on the iPhone or iPad design have been well received, this cannot be said for the Mac in recent years.
i fasten it
The butterfly keyboard is a good example. Apple decided that its users wanted a more stable keyboard key, and completely redesigned its laptop keyboards to achieve this goal. However, the result was an unreliable key mechanism that Apple never fixed. If you were immersed directly and had bought a Mac equipped with a first-generation butterfly keyboard, you would have experienced an uncomfortable shock. Ultimately, Apple had to give up the butterfly keyboard altogether.
The 12-inch MacBook is another example. This device is incredibly thin and light and should represent the future of Apple's MacBook development. However, the lack of ports and disappointing performance made it one of the best-selling Apple products ever.
Of course, there is no guarantee that these first Apple Silicon Macs will have a radically new design. The software problem is the bigger problem.
Software stumbling blocks
Will your favorite app be ready when the first ARM Mac starts up? Will you be forced to make do with an alternative? Do you need to buy software back?
Even if your favorite app works on the first ARM Mac, does it work without sacrifice? Significantly, when Apple announced MacOS High Sierra in 2017, it said it would be the last Mac operating system to support 32-bit "no compromise" apps. Apple tends to drag lines in the sand, which can lead to compatibility issues.
As we approached the WWDC announcement, there were many reasons to doubt this transition. Microsoft's multiple failed attempts have made me skeptical about the success of such a transition. The strong gap between MacOS and iPadOS at Apple has also made many curious about how they are closing the app gap between the two platforms.
Fortunately, Apple has announced a comprehensive plan to ensure that every application imaginable will work on these new Macs. Apple hopes that most developers will use the tools available in a new version of Xcode to convert their applications to run natively on ARM. According to Apple, key developers such as Microsoft and Adobe will have their software ready for use on the first day. This is great news for early adopters.
For apps that don't skip, the company has launched a new version of Rosetta to translate these apps so that they can run smoothly on ARM. Apple took a similar approach 15 years ago when it switched from PowerPC to Intel.
Buying one of these new Macs even offers software benefits. According to Apple, iPhone and iPad apps run directly on them and are even automatically published in the Mac App Store. This is a wealth of new apps that can be run directly on these new Macs.
Buying from Intel is still safe
Despite Apple's careful patience, there is no guarantee that the first try will be successful. There must be hiccups on the first day. This is almost inevitable, especially with software. If your daily work depends on the performance and functionality of intensive applications, it is definitely wise to wait and see how they work.
In addition, buying an Intel machine will not bring you a major disadvantage. Apple even says it still has Intel Macs on its roadmap. This means that it will take a long time for them to run out of support.
Performance remains the primary question mark. The iPad Pro is extremely fast, but we don't know how well it can be transferred to the Mac. Apple appears to be convinced of the performance of these new Macs, and the WWDC demos seemed impressive. This is further underpinned by a recent report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who claims that internal testing at Apple has shown that its ARM-based Mac chips outperform Intel equivalents, especially in the graphics and artificial intelligence fields. They are also said to be much more energy efficient.
Apple is in no hurry and never was.
However, Apple still has a lot to prove, especially in competition with the high-end MacBook Pro or iMac models. If it ever wants to replace the iMac Pro or Mac Pro, it has a long way to go.
The good news? Apple is in no hurry and never was. New product releases are slower. It is not often tried to be the first to launch a new technology. Instead, it tries to bring out a more mature product than its competitors. That applied to the iPod, the iPad and even the Apple Watch.
This patient approach and Apple's well-implemented transition plan give us confidence that the first generation ARM Mac won't be bankrupt. In the long run, we'll use them all.
But Apple is playing the long game with its Mac platform. If you need a new Mac now, don't punish yourself with waiting. If you don't necessarily need to run iPhone apps on your Mac, you won't regret buying a new Intel computer now.