If WWDC 2021 was any indication, Apple is now ready to cut a growing number of Intel Mac users. The company depreciates machines on seemingly arbitrary lines, rather than technical limitations. When it comes to transitioning the rest of its line to Apple Silicon, it’s already abandoning features even for new machines.
Shortly after the release of the device, the company explained that computers and laptop computers could install the new version of macOS. Many machines that were supported with last year’s Big Sur were not now able to upgrade to macOS Monterey. That included iMac models made before 2014, pre-late-2014 Mac Minis and MacBook Air and Pro models made before 2015.
That’s where it gets interesting. Apple has withdrawn support from the MacBook Air since the beginning of 2014, which on speculation runs a 1.4 GHz Intel Core i5-4260U (Haswell) CPU with 4 GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 5000. When asked, Apple said it should depreciate the old hardware when those machines no longer support the experience that their users have expected from macOS.
It is well known, because macOS Monterey do support u end of 2014 Mac Mini, the base model that … packs a 1.4 GHz Intel Core i5-4260U (Haswell) CPU with 4 GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 5000. Owners of the mid-2014, 15-inch MacBook Pro are in a similar situation, as the The mid-2015 model that is still supported has almost the same internals to the spec.
One of the likely reasons that Apple will make decisions like this is because of the unique way it updates its computers. The same i5-4260U Mac Mini was on sale at Apple until the 2018 season, and four years is a long time for any chip to be on sale. It means that with Monterey, Apple would abandon models that customers would have been able to buy just three years ago.
Similarly, the base 21.5-inch iMac model, which was refreshed in early 2019, was powered by Intel i3-8100, a CPU from the end of 2017. And this is the model that has just been replaced by the new one, ultra slim M1 edition which has garnered so much applause in recent months. By dragging its feet with chip upgrades in recent years (not helped, of course, by Intel’s troubles), Apple is making it harder to convince a technical argument to withdraw support for some models and not others.
Similarly, even new Intel Macs with macOS Monterey will find their experience limited in some ways. 9to5Mac noted that Apple has listed a number of features in Monterey that will not be supported by any Intel Mac. This includes the ability to blur backgrounds in FaceTime Videos, copy live text from images and use new, more detailed maps.
In these cases, it is likely that the news is coded to take advantage of the M1 Neural Motor. But that’s not to say that some of these features might not work on Intel machines if Apple was willing to implement them. When even affordable Windows laptops with integrated graphics can blur backgrounds in a so-called Zoom, is it fair to decline a FaceTime feature similar to someone who spends $ 2,800 on an Intel MacBook Pro today?
The only thing the company really risks with all of this is a certain amount of goodwill with users who still persist with their older Macs. Apple’s priority is to look to its future, but the decision to perhaps arbitrarily pull support for some machines is not ideal.
Compare this to smartphones, where Apple runs rings around its competitors for OS support with older devices. The iPhone 6S, starting in September 2015, will be able to be upgraded to iOS 15 this fall, in a world where competing manufacturers are only recently declining to start offering it. three years of OS support for an equivalent Android device. When it comes to desktops and laptops, Apple should look for an even greater level of support.
Comparing this with Apple’s latest transition, the first Intel Macs came out in January 2006, and the first Intel-only OS update came in the summer of 2009. Apple will likely continue to offer security and usability updates for Apple. older models, but the writing is on the wall for any Intel running Mac currently on sale. If you’re looking to buy one of these machines today, you should be aware that you may be squaring off from using all those interesting new features announced at future WWDCs. Hey, you may even miss the new OS to install in the not too distant future.
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