Some MacOS Monterey features aren’t available on Intel Macs (because Apple?)

Some omissions are understandable, but others seem very arbitrary.

tl; Dr
  • Apple’s MacOS Monterey update includes just over half a dozen features not available on Intel Macs.
  • However these features are available on M1-powered Macs.
  • Why is the interactive globe in Maps exclusive to M1-powered Macs?

Apple announced several major updates during its WWDC 2021 keynote, ranging from iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 to macOS Monterey. The latter is particularly notable because it represents the first major MacOS update since Apple’s adoption of Arm-based silicon.

Now, it turns out that many important macOS Monterey features are not available on Intel-based Macs. Nerdshala Fine-print viewed Apple’s website, making it clear 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 a map
  • Text-to-speech in more languages ​​(including Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish)
  • On-device dictation (ie without internet connection)
  • Continuous dictation instead of longer dictation up to 60 seconds

That’s a huge number of features that aren’t available for Intel-based Macs that Apple is still selling. Nevertheless, there are Suggestion That these omissions are due to Apple leveraging machine learning silicon within the M1 processor (Intel’s processors do not have dedicated ML silicon) instead of using the cloud.

This seems like a plausible explanation for some of these omissions, as features like live text and on-device dictation rely on powerful local machine learning capabilities especially if you’re not going to use cloud processing. We’ve seen Google offer features like dictation and the ability to copy/paste/translate text from images before, but this actually requires an internet connection.

Other features like 3D landmarks and an interactive globe however seem like incredibly arbitrary defaults for Intel-based Macs. Even while we’ve seen several high-profile video calling services offering similar functionality, FaceTime’s Portrait Mode is an odd feature to exclude from Intel Macs. It certainly looks like Apple wants to inspire people to adopt Arm-powered Macs out of hobby Intel variants.

Still, we expect Microsoft to use the machine learning silicon inside Snapdragon computer chips to bring nifty on-device features to Windows at Arm. Unless the company makes arbitrary features for arm-powered laptops.

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