In line with a number of rumours, Apple has today announced that it will start using ARM processors in Macs soon. Apple CEO Tim Cook made the announcement, calling it a ‘historic day for the Mac’.

Switching to ARM processors will prove beneficial for Apple. ARM processors will offer higher efficiency and performance to the Mac. More importantly, processors designed by Apple for the Mac have the potential to be a game changer. Apple says it will enable the company to push unique features and performance out of its Mac line-up.

Also, switching to ARM will allow iOS apps to run natively on the Mac as well. Apple says that the company will release the first ARM-powered Mac before the end of the year. However, a full transition to ARM Macs will take up to 2 years, according to the company.

All of Apple’s native Mac apps are already updated to run on ARM. In fact, today’s entire macOS Big Sur demo was done on a Mac running an A12Z processor. We didn’t find out about this until later in the keynote, but in hindsight, the performance seems great. The company’s pro apps, including Final Cut Pro, also already support ARM. 

Switching to ARM has been an issue for Windows, with most third party apps running virtualised. That means performance and battery take a big hit. To solve this, Apple is doing a couple of things.

Rosetta 2

One is outrightly partnering with companies like Microsoft and Adobe to bring their apps over to ARM based Macs. However, the company also announced Rosetta 2. Apple previously used Rosetta when the Mac transitioned from PowerPC to Intel. This time, it’s supposed to be faster as well. Rosetta 2 will automatically translate apps to work with ARM based Macs. So, most apps will just work, says Apple.

Quick Start Program for Developers

Apple also announced a Quick Start program for developers. This program will help developers get their apps ready for the ARM transition on time. The program will provide developers with documentation, sample code, and access to hands-on labs around the world. Moreover, developers can also get a Developer Transition Kit that consists of a Mac Mini with an A12Z chipset, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. The DTK will run macOS Big Sur developer beta, so developers can get started right away.