The tech giant Apple today announced it will transition the Mac to its world-class custom silicon to deliver industry-leading performance and powerful new technologies.

Developers can now get started updating their apps to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of Apple silicon in the Mac. This transition will also establish a common architecture across all Apple products, making it far easier for developers to write and optimize their apps for the entire ecosystem.

To help developers get started with Apple silicon, Apple is also launching the Universal App Quick Start Program, which provides access to documentation, forums support, beta versions of macOS Big Sur and Xcode 12, and the limited use of a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), a Mac development system based on Apple’s A12Z Bionic System on a Chip (SoC).

Apple plans to ship the first Mac with Apple silicon by the end of the year and complete the transition in about two years. Apple will continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs for years to come, and has exciting new Intel-based Macs in development. The transition to Apple silicon represents the biggest leap ever for the Mac.

Apple today also introduced macOS Big Sur, the next major release of macOS, which delivers its biggest update in more than a decade and includes technologies that will ensure a smooth and seamless transition to Apple silicon.

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“From the beginning, the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing. Today we’re announcing our transition to Apple silicon, making this a historic day for the Mac,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever. I’ve never been more excited about the future of the Mac.”

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Among the new features in iPadOS 14 is a new-look for widgets in the iPad’s Today View. Apple had added the Today View, which used to house a column of widgets from Apple’s own apps as well as third-party apps, to the home screen of the iPad in iPadOS 13 last year. 

The widgets have a new look this year and are more interactive. For example, you’ll be able to place Apple’s Calendar widget anywhere on the home screen to view your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. 

Apps can now take advantage of a new sidebar view, putting common buttons and menus off-screen until they’re needed, instead of using a multi-column view as iPad apps have in the past. Other interface refinements are also present, such as a small overlay for incoming calls instead of taking over the entire screen, and the Search app now acts more like MacOS Spotlight. 

Apple Pencil gets new features as well, with Scribble. Instead of only using the Pencil in apps that have optimized for drawing or writing, you can now write with Pencil in any text field and iPadOS will automatically convert it to text. 

Apple didn’t spend a lot of time going through all of the iPadOS features, so we’ll need to do some more digging after the developer preview is released. Instead, the above screenshot is as close as we’ll get to a complete list of new features for now. 

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Family of Mac SoCs to Deliver Powerful New Features and Best-in-Class Performance

For over a decade, Apple’s world-class silicon design team has been building and refining Apple SoCs. The result is a scalable architecture custom designed for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch that leads the industry in unique features and performance per watt, and makes each of them best in class. Building upon this architecture, Apple is designing a family of SoCs for the Mac. This will give the Mac industry-leading performance per watt and higher performance GPUs — enabling app developers to write even more powerful pro apps and high-end games. And access to technologies such as the Neural Engine will make the Mac an amazing platform for developers to use machine learning. This will also create a common architecture across all Apple products, making it far easier for developers to write and optimize software for the entire Apple ecosystem.

macOS Big Sur Enables Transition to Apple Silicon

In macOS Big Sur, Apple is offering a range of technologies to make the transition to Apple silicon smooth and seamless. With everything built into Xcode 12, such as native compilers, editors, and debugging tools, most developers will be able to get their apps running in a matter of days. Using Universal 2 application binaries, developers will be able to easily create a single app that taps into the native power and performance of the new Macs with Apple silicon, while still supporting Intel-based Macs.

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With the translation technology of Rosetta 2, users will be able to run existing Mac apps that have not yet been updated, including those with plug-ins. Virtualization technology allows users to run Linux. Developers can also make their iOS and iPadOS apps available on the Mac without any modifications.