The transition from Intel processors to Apple’s own Apple Silicon processors will take two years to reach the full suite of Mac computers, with the first computers currently slated to begin shipping by the end of the year.
Developers need time to prepare their devices to work on the new processors, which are based on different technology and require optimizations for apps to run properly. Apple has been working with partners like Microsoft and Adobe to port their popular apps to Apple Silicon, and even showed off working versions of the apps during the streamed keynote on Monday.
One of Apple’s biggest selling points about its hardware and software products, particularly when it comes to iPhone and iPad, is that the company controls the entire product, and doesn’t have to rely on third parties for various parts.
With the Mac, however, Apple has had to work with Intel’s product advantages and shipping schedules to provide meaningful updates.
Apple cites performance gains as another advantage of the transition, and so far, we don’t have a reason to discount that claim. The iPad Pro has an Apple Silicon processor and its performance has proven to be faster than some Windows 10 laptops, with the added benefit of energy management and cellular connectivity.
So, with faster and more efficient Macs on the way, does it make sense to buy one now, or wait?
Our suggestion? Don’t wait for Apple Silicon Macs to become available.
Not because we don’t have confidence in Apple, but simply because we don’t know enough yet.
We don’t know which Mac or Macs will launch later this year with Apple Silicon, nor how they’ll be priced. Will the first Apple Silicon-powered Mac be a $500 iMac Mini, one developers can buy and start testing their apps on right now? Or will it be a $2,000 MacBook Air with 5G connectivity? We just don’t know.
Then there’s the app problem. Well, presumably an app problem, but Apple promises the process has been streamlined and should be relatively painless for developers.
There’s also a tool called Rosetta 2 that will allow apps that haven’t been optimized to work on Apple Silicon to run on the devices and, again, Apple promises it should make the process painless.
But as we’ve seen with other first-generation products, be it the original MacBook Air or the first Apple Watch — there are always growing pains and unforeseen issues that have to be worked out.
By waiting until a month or two after the first device becomes available, you’ll have a better idea of how much work is needed to add your most important apps to the platform. You’ll also give time for reviewers and early adopters to discover any potential hardware issues and, hopefully, give time for Apple to correct them.
If you foresee yourself needing a Mac in the next six months, waiting for an Apple Silicon Mac doesn’t make a ton of sense, at least with what we know right now. However, if you’re happy with your Mac and feel like you can squeeze another nine months to a year out of it, then waiting for a Mac that’s entirely Apple makes more sense.
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