Back to Tim Cook for the timeline: â€œwe expect to ship our first Mac with Apple Silicon by the end of this year, and we expect the transition to take two years. We expect to release new software for Intel based Macs for years to come, and in act, we have new Intel based Macs in the pipeline that weâ€™re really excited about.â€ The software itself gets the standard vague â€œfallâ€ release date.
But no new computers today, unless youâ€™re a developer. The Developer Transition Kit, shipping this week, is for developers only, and contains the new chips inside a Mac Mini. The idea is that thereâ€™s a few apps, at least, rewritten for the launch of the new computers.
And thereâ€™s another implication: youâ€™ll be able to install iOS and iPadOS apps directly on to Macs. Thatâ€™s going to be a mixed blessing for users: thereâ€™s a lot more apps available, but most of them wonâ€™t exactly be a pleasant experience to use with a keyboard and mouse.
Macs running Apple Silicon will be able to use apps that havenâ€™t been rewritten for the new processors, thanks to Rosetta 2: this technology (again, Apple has already had a thing called â€œRosettaâ€) will rewrite apps as theyâ€™re installed to try and keep performance high.
It looks like it works fairly well: the company demonstrates the very performance-intensive Maya 3D modelling tool working perfectly, and then plays through Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a popular game, in real time. â€œThese new macs, they are fast!â€
A huge point buried in a screenshot: macOS Big Sur is not macOS 10.16. It is macOS 11. After twenty years, weâ€™ve finally hit the end of OS X.
A crucial detail: Apple is letting developers ship â€œUniversal 2â€ apps. Itâ€™s a clunky name, because itâ€™s already used â€œuniversal appsâ€ before now for something else, but what it means is that one download can work on both the new Apple Silicon Macs and older Intel machines.
And Microsoft and Adobe have already done that work, Craig Federighi says. So we get some demoes of Office. It looks like Office. That is good!
And finally, we get Tim Cook back again, declaring today a â€œhistoric dayâ€. â€œItâ€™s time for a huge leap forward for the Mac: today is the day the Mac is transitioning to our own Apple Silicon.
â€œHaving a world class silicon design team is a game changer,â€ Cook says, before introducing a very silly video transfer to an â€œundisclosed locationâ€ where Appleâ€™s SVP of Hardware Technologies, Johny Srugi, explains the companyâ€™s history of building its own chips: firstly the A-line chips from the iPhone, then the AX chips for the iPads.
â€œThe first thing this will do is give the Mac a whole new level of performance,â€ Sruji says. â€œYou want to deliver the highest performance at the lowest power consumption. Our plan is to give the Mac the highest level of performance while using much less powerâ€. Power use, he explains, doesnâ€™t just matter for battery life: it also affects heat, which affects cooling and thus the physical constraints of the entire machine.
Apple pushing its translation feature hard: Safari now has (Google-style) in-line translation for pages in languages you donâ€™t speak.
Safari is seeing â€œthe biggest update since it was first introducedâ€. Updates here really matter: Safari is the only browser engine allowed on iOS, which means Apple and Google are basically the two companies that decide how the web works.
So whatâ€™s new? â€œWe want to give users even more visibility into the ways sites track them, and how safari is protecting them.â€ Every site will get a little name-and-shame window showing all the creepy things Safari has blocked.
â€œIf you love tabs, youâ€™re going to love the new Safariâ€, as well. â€œThe tabs get smaller.â€
A very nerdy update, but: a huge swathe of changes are coming to Catalyst, the tool that Apple offers to let developers easily port iOS apps over to Mac. Which explains why Messages and Maps are so like the iOS version, Craig explains: they were made with Catalyst.
Continuing the â€œloans from iOSâ€ theme, Messages gets an update that isâ€¦ mostly bringing features over from iOS, and Maps gets an update that isâ€¦ mostly bringing features over from iOS.
One notable iOS loan: Control Centre. The menu bar is now getting an iOS-style panel for controlling things like volume, screen brightness, and other commonly-used settings.
And, completing the circle of life, macOS is getting widgets, a feature that it first received in 2005 and lost for good in 2018.
Iâ€™m going to throw up my liveblogger hands here: Apple is running through every design change itâ€™s making in Big Sur in one rapid-paced video, and itâ€™s honestly too quick for me to keep up with it. Overview: it looks a lot more like iOS in terms of visual design now.
But firstly, a very silly video for introducing the name of the new version of macOS. Continuing the California theme, itâ€™s going to be macOS Big Sur.
They did not play The Thrills hit, so Iâ€™m going to instead.