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MacOS Monterey Is When Apple Starts Leaving Intel Macs Behind

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Date: 2021-06-11 10:52:30

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This week, Apple revealed macOS Monterey, an update to its desktop operating system that will roll out this fall. It comes with a whole host of new features that the company highlighted in its keynote presentation at its annual WWDC event. But if you’re stuck on a Mac with an Intel chip, some of those improvements won’t make it to your computer at all.

Apple computers have been largely powered by Intel chips since 2006. Last November, the company announced that it would switch to its own ARM-based M1 chips. Now with macOS Monterey, Apple has started to leave Intel behind.

As MacRumors spotted after Apple’s developer conference this week, the teeny-tiny footnotes at the very bottom of the macOS Monterey preview page indicate that certain new upgrades will only be available on Macs with M1 chips. A portrait mode in FaceTime that lets you blur your background during calls won’t be available for Intel Macs. Neither will Apple’s new LiveText features, which allows you to copy text directly from photos. Some of Apple’s revamped Maps features, including a detailed city mode and the ability to manipulate an interactive globe model, will also be M1 exclusives.

“Apple’s in the habit of making very bold moves if it helps them tighten up their ecosystem,” says Linn Huang, research vice president at the tech analyst group IDC. “And this certainly feels like the start of something like that.”

While potentially frustrating for those who own any Mac but the very latest, that bold move likely stems less from caprice than from the introduction of a "neural engine"—a longtime feature of iPhones and iPads—in Apple's proprietary desktop processors. It’s Apple’s way of enabling artificial intelligence capabilities that excel in image processing and text and speech recognition.