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Our Apps and Apple Silicon

August 10, 2020 — Eric Böhnisch-Volkmann

On this year’s World-Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple announced to move the Mac from Intel processors to their own ARM-based CPUs (dubbed “Apple silicon” for now). This gives Apple the freedom to build new Macs independent from Intel’s roadmap and should bring us, e.g., MacBooks that stay cooler and run longer before needing a recharge.

Apple is well-prepared for this transition as it has already mastered a few of them in the past: from Motorola 68000 processors to PowerPC and finally to Intel x86. macOS Big Sur comes with a special piece of code named Rosetta 2 that translates apps compiled for Intel processors to the new world and runs them at reasonable speed.

So what does this mean for our Mac applications?

First of all they will continue to run just as fine as before. Rosetta runs them at good speed without any changes. So if you buy a new ARM-based Mac when they become available you won’t be without DEVONthink or DEVONagent.

But of course we’ll make our applications run natively also on Apple silicon. As macOS Catalina already forced all Mac apps to move to 64-bit, the larger part of the work is already done. The latest versions of Xcode, Apple’s development environment, also lets us compile our software as universal binaries that include code for both Intel and Apple’s ARM processors. Apps compiled as universal binaries run at full speed on current and coming Macs.

We expect to have universal binaries of all our Mac applications ready latest when the first ARM-based Macs ship at the end of the year. The only exception might be the built-in OCR library for which we’ll have to wait for an official update from ABBYY.

What about older versions of our applications?

Older versions of DEVONthink, DEVONagent, and DEVONsphere should continue to work fine also on Apple silicon as long as they are supported by the version of macOS running on that Mac and the Rosetta environment is available.