Apple announced several major updates during its WWDC 2021 keynote address, ranging from iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 to MacOS Monterey. The latter is particularly noteworthy as it represents the first major MacOS update since Apple adopted Arm-based silicon.
Now, it turns out that several significant MacOS Monterey features aren’t available on Intel-based Macs. MacRumors noticed fine-print on Apple’s website, clarifying that just over half a dozen new features were exclusive to M1 Macs. Check out the list of Apple Silicon-exclusive features below.
- Portrait mode in Facetime
- Live text to copy/paste/translate text in images
- 3D landmarks in Maps
- An interactive globe in Maps
- Text-to-speech in more languages (including Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish)
- On-device dictation (i.e. without an internet connection)
- Continuous dictation rather than dictation up to 60 seconds long
It’s a pretty sizeable number of features that aren’t available to Intel-based Macs, which Apple is still selling right now. Nevertheless, there are suggestions that these omissions are due to Apple leveraging machine learning silicon within the M1 processor (Intel’s processors don’t have dedicated ML silicon) rather than harnessing the cloud.
This sounds like a plausible explanation for some of these omissions, as features like live text and on-device dictation in particular rely on powerful local machine learning capabilities if you aren’t going to use cloud processing. We have seen Google offer features like dictation and the ability to copy/paste/translate text from images before, but this indeed requires an internet connection.
Other features like 3D landmarks and an interactive globe seem like incredibly arbitrary omissions for Intel-based Macs though. Even Facetime’s portrait mode is a strange feature to exclude from Intel Macs when we’ve seen several high-profile video calling services offer similar functionality. It certainly feels like Apple wants to push people to adopt Arm-powered Macs by hobbling the Intel variants.
Nevertheless, we hope to see Microsoft harness the machine learning silicon inside Snapdragon computer chips to bring nifty on-device features to Windows on Arm. Just as long as the company doesn’t make arbitrary features exclusive to Arm-powered laptops.