The most recent macOS update, version 14 which we call Sonoma, has introduced a number of improvements and features that clearly make a difference with the previous version. Yesterday we already answered the question of whether my Mac will be compatible with macOS 14 Sonoma, and we saw that there were several computers with Intel processors listed. They do so, however, with a big asterisk next to them.
Four new features that are unique to Macs with Apple silicon
With each new version of the operating system, Apple develops features based on the hardware on which the systems will run. While the Cupertino company has always been characterized by giving great support to older machines, the best newer ones, especially those that rely on artificial intelligence, require the computer to have minimum specifications.
Apple silicon chips have artificial intelligence accelerators, in the form of the Neural Engine, but this is not the case on Intel computers, where it is the processor that by brute force has to infer the models. This is the main reason why several new features of macOS Sonoma do not reach Intel computers. Here is the list of the new features that only Apple silicon users will be able to enjoy.
- One of the features coming only to Apple silicon is the Presenter Overlay, which allows us to stay in the conversation while sharing our screen in a presentation. A very elegant way to engage with a virtual meeting without disappearing behind a PDF document or Keynote.
- Another unique feature for Macs with Apple silicon is the ability to react with your hands during a call. This feature adds a reaction that fills our image with funny effects when we move our hands in a certain way. To use it we need the main camera on a Mac with Apple silicon, but fortunately, we can also enjoy it on Intel Macs as long as we use Continuity Camera mode with an iPhone 12 or later, which will take care of pattern recognition to detect the gestures.
- Game Mode is another new feature exclusive to Apple silicon. A mode automatically prioritizes games so that our chips’ resources are not wasted on other tasks and lowers the latency of AirPods and game controllers to improve the experience.
- Finally, Siri also receives an exclusive improvement for Macs with Apple silicon, as it will now work by simply saying “Siri”, instead of “Hey Siri”, thus facilitating its activation. Remember that, for the moment, this function is only available in English.
It is important to note that macOS Sonoma is still in development and the list of features exclusive to Apple silicon Macs could change before its final release in the fall. There is always the possibility that Apple could decide to move some of the features currently exclusive to Apple silicon to Intel-based Macs, although it could do so with some limitation in how they work.
In the case of macOS Sonoma, it is clear that Apple is putting a lot of emphasis on the capabilities of its own chips and their power and architecture optimized for certain types of tasks. The list of Sonoma enhancements that aren’t available is thankfully short, but we can’t overlook them either. As we talk about how to install iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and WatchOS 10 in beta, it’s clear that the era of Apple silicon is here and Apple is determined to take full advantage of the unique capabilities of its own hardware to push the software much further than you might expect.
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