If you need a new Mac right now of course get a new Mac. It’s a must have, not a good one to have.
But if you can wait at least until the end of the year to update your laptop or desktop, you’d be crazy if you buy a new Mac right now. Not after Apple’s big WWDC announcement.
In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Apple has just announced that it will begin a two-year transition to replace Intel processors on Macs with Apple’s own designed processors.
It is a great change for many reasons. First, Intel chips use the x86 instruction set, while Apple chips use the ARM instruction set. That doesn’t mean much to you as a consumer, but to developers, this isn’t like Apple switching between Intel and AMD processors, or Nvidia and AMD graphics. Intel and Apple chips work fundamentally incompatible code, so most applications will need to be rebuilt for new Macs.
Apple is doing a lot of things to ease that transition, as detailed here. But any developer who creates a Mac app that wants to run on new Macs sold in the next two years is thinking of writing it for these new processors. Eventually, every new Mac app or update to an existing app will be primarily for new processors, with Intel support in the background.
There are several things that should significantly affect your decision to buy a Mac right now:
We know that the first Macs with Apple processors in them will arrive by the end of the year.
We know that in two years, every Mac will be powered by an Apple chip.
But we have no idea which Macs will make the switch first, or what they will be like.
Every time you buy a new computer, you can be sure that a better and faster one will be released soon. That is progress. But these Apple-based Macs have a higher than normal chance of being much best. Every Mac sold now is essentially in an “Old Mac” category, and could be replaced by a “New Mac” in six months. Or in two years. Or anything in between.
Shopping in the past
Of course, macOS will continue to be created and supported for Intel-based Macs for years, and developers will surely continue to produce Universal Mac applications that run on Intel and Apple processors. Not that the Mac you buy today suddenly turns into a paperweight!
But there’s virtually no chance that an Intel-based Mac is “better” than the comparable Apple Mac that replaces it.
And what happens if you keep your new Mac for 5 years or more? What if macOS 11.5, released in 2025, doesn’t even support Intel Macs? Even if you don’t mind updating your operating system, it’s a death sentence for software support.
Perhaps the new Mac with an Apple chip is faster. Or get better battery life. Maybe it will have a completely new design. New display technology. A really good built-in webcam (for once). Maybe it is compatible with Apple Pencil or has a touch screen.
We have no idea, but it may be your last dollar that if Apple’s first Mac with its own processor is, for example, a super slim and light laptop, it will be clearly superior to a modern MacBook Air.
Apple is not moving away from Intel chips because it can make a Mac just a little bit faster or with an extra hour of battery life. You are doing it to create Mac hardware and software that is far superior to what you might otherwise do.
And maybe the differences are not clear at the moment. But do you really think that in 2022, when Apple releases macOS 11.2, it won’t have features and capabilities that are only for Mac with Apple chips? Something that, for example, requires the Neural Engine hardware to work well? We already know one of those characteristics for the new Macs that will be launched this year: they will be able to run iPhone and iPad applications natively. That’s a huge plus, and we still don’t know anything about these Macs.
If you buy a Mac today, you are buying a line of Mac that Apple has declared to be the past. A past that they will continue to support for some time, but the past nonetheless.
Wait and see
Certainly, you don’t have to wait forever for Apple to launch the right Mac-with-Apple processor for you. If the first of these non-Intel Macs is a thin and light laptop and you’re in the market for a heavy desktop, then go ahead and get that iMac if you want.
The best computers are always on the go and eventually you have to update them sooner or later, but given what we know about the future of the Mac in general, and do not do it Get to know the first Macs that have an Apple processor inside, waiting seems more prudent than usual.
“Wait and see” is good advice whenever we know a new Mac is on the way. If you can afford it, wait and see if the new one is better. With a Mac revolution along the way, declared and dated, “wait and see” is almost essential.