In context: The next macOS has some pretty cool features, but several are only compatible with the new M1 silicon. It's somewhat inexplicable considering M1 Macs currently make up a tiny portion of Apple's customer base. Leaving Intel-based Mac owners high-and-dry seems shortsighted.
Apple is great at hyping its latest hardware and software. Craig Federighi showed off this skill leading Apple's opening keynote address for WWDC 2021. Live Text, Universal Control, and detailed 3D maps were played up as must-haves in macOS Monterey. However, there is a catch.
While Federighi did not mention it during the reveal, many of Monterey's hype-worthy features are not compatible with Intel-based Macs. This fact only came to light after reading the fine-print footnotes on Apple's Monterey preview page, which was posted on Monday after the presentation.
While the newest version of the Mac operating system will run on older Intel Macs, some features will be absent, including those mentioned above, Universal Control being the exception. Others that Apple footnoted as incompatible include:
- FaceTime's portrait mode
- The interactive globe in Maps
- No-time-limit on-device dictation
While not really make-or-break, it is unfortunate that only those with M1 Macs will have access to the full functionality of Monterey. The first Macs with in-house silicon only arrived last fall, and Apple has yet to convert the rest of its line to the new SoCs, although they are moving fast to fix that. Additionally, those customers with recently purchased or slightly older hardware now have less incentive to upgrade to Monterey.
Sure, there are still some other great features that come with Monterey. Control Center now has a recording indicator that tells you when an app is using your mic. The Shortcuts feature for automating tasks will work with Intel silicon, as will "AirPlay to Mac." However, Federighi didn't blast these as "must-have" like he did the others.
Clearly, Apple is moving macOS toward the future of its hardware. It's just unfortunate that it chose to do so when only a tiny fraction of its user base can enjoy it.