Apple's $500 Developer Program Includes Tools and Resources for Transitioning to Apple Silicon, Plus a Loaner A12Z-Based Mac Mini

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To help developers prepare for the Mac transition from Intel processors to Apple Silicon, Apple has launched a Universal App Quick Start Program, which "includes all the tools, resources, and support you need to build, test, and optimize your next-generation Universal apps for macOS Big Sur."


The program requires a brief application, with limited availability and priority for developers with an existing macOS application. The program costs $500 and includes access to beta software, developer labs, private discussion forum, technical support, and other resources.

On the hardware side, participants will receive exclusive access to a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), which resembles a Mac mini but uses Apple's A12Z Bionic chip from the latest iPad Pro as its brains. In addition to the A12Z Bionic, the DTK includes 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a pair of 10 Gbps USB-C ports, a pair of 5 Gbps USB-A ports, and an HDMI 2.0 port. Thunderbolt 3 support is not included.

On the communications side, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and Gigabit Ethernet are also supported. An FCC filing for the DTK reveals that it carries an Apple model number of A2330, which was the lone new Mac model number that appeared in the Eurasian Economic Commission's database earlier this month.

Notably, the DTK remains the property of Apple and must be returned at the conclusion of the program. Participants must also agree to a number of restrictions against tearing the machine down, using it for work other than development related to the program, or renting or leasing it out.

The Universal App Quick Start Program is similar to one Apple launched for the transition from PowerPC chips to Intel processors back in 2005. In that case, the program cost was $999 and participants were provided with loaner machines based on the Power Mac G5. As with the new DTK machines, those Macs also had to be returned at the end of the program, although Apple did provide participants with a free first-generation Intel iMac upon returning the developer kit as bonus.

Apple has made no promise of a similar bonus this time, so it remains to be seen whether program participants will get any hardware to keep.

Article Link: Apple's $500 Developer Program Includes Tools and Resources for Transitioning to Apple Silicon, Plus a Loaner A12Z-Based Mac Mini
 

Soba

macrumors 6502
May 28, 2003
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Rochester, NY
The Universal App Quick Start Program is similar to one Apple launched for the transition from PowerPC chips to Intel processors back in 2005. In that case, the program cost was $999 and participants were provided with loaner machines based on the Power Mac G5.
I hope I'm not being pedantic, but the 2005 developer kits were a Pentium 4-based system in what resembled a Power Mac G5 case. Aside from the case, there wasn't anything in the system related to the G5, as far as I can remember.
 
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DummyFool

macrumors member
Jan 15, 2020
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I doubt they will be on eBay as they must be returned to Apple. I’m sure that if you don’t return it, Apple and the police would be knocking on your door. I don’t think any of the Pentium PowerMacs ended up on eBay.
Could end up being stolen... Good luck Apple trying to retrieve it.
 

rmoliv

macrumors 65816
Dec 20, 2017
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I purchased a 16-inch MacBook just a few months ago... How long will Apple provide macOS updates for Intel macs? And will apps developed for Apple Silicon work on Intel macs? Honestly not happy about this transition...
 

kyjaotkb

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2009
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London, UK
The intel dev kits were not based on the G5. They were P4 in a G5 case, which is quite another thing, if I may.

The Powermac G5, in its original hardware design, was however used as dev kit for the Xbox360, which like PS3 was based on the PowerPC architecture. Amazing to think that Microsoft ordered thousands of those to use send them to their devs.
 

socialwill

macrumors regular
Jul 14, 2014
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I purchased a 16-inch MacBook just a few months ago... How long will Apple provide macOS updates for Intel macs? And will apps developed for Apple Silicon work on Intel macs? Honestly not happy about this transition...
I would "guess" that this will be supported for several years, like 4-5 years. Apple still has Intel systems shipping this year (iMac and possible MacBook Pro 16). Plus the first system would be a new Mac mini IMO (maybe Apple TV in size?)
 
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HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
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I purchased a 16-inch MacBook just a few months ago... How long will Apple provide macOS updates for Intel macs? And will apps developed for Apple Silicon work on Intel macs? Honestly not happy about this transition...
Xcode now creates universal binaries that will run on both Apple ARM and Intel chips. No guarantees, but it's very unlikely they'll end support for Intel Macs they're selling today for a long time. Apple likes repeat customers and ending support quickly would probably invite lawsuits in addition to loss of goodwill.
 

kyjaotkb

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2009
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London, UK
With no Thunderbolt 3 support, I am curious if this is just with the dev version or if TB 3 or TB 4 will be supported in the final hardware?
The first Intel macs were much more exciting than the P4 dev kits. There is hope. Not sure about TB4 but I’m pretty sure USB4 will be supported (i.e. TB3 essentially). Just my 2 cent though.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
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I am wondering how companies that produce Thunderbolt devices are supposed to get their software updated when Apple doesn’t have a Thunderbolt ARM device to offer them to develop on?
If they’ve been using DriverKit there’s nothing they need to do. This is exactly why Apple releases these technologies years ahead of what they lead up to.
 
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CubeHacker

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2003
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I purchased a 16-inch MacBook just a few months ago... How long will Apple provide macOS updates for Intel macs? And will apps developed for Apple Silicon work on Intel macs? Honestly not happy about this transition...
I would say you will be able to receive 2-3 OS transitions (if they continue yearly as they have been) once all of apples Macs have been updated to Arm processors. That basically means about 5 years of additional OS updates, which is pretty good. Keep in mind that doesn't mean at 5 years your Macbook will stop working. It will continue to be useful for another 8 years or more.

As for future apps - it all depends on how much developers are wiling to write binary code to support both x86 and Arm. I assume that once OS support for Intel is dropped, that application developers will soon follow. Again, that doesn't mean your apps will stop working. It just means that you might not be able to use the latest version of an application.

During the PPC-> Intel switch, most developers were quick to want to transition away from PPC because most windows apps were already written for x86 and it made for an easier port. It might not be as quick this time around as Arm is "new territory" for the majority of desktop applications. Then again, there are already tons of native iPhone and iPad apps that can easily be brought over to the Mac, but would take a lot of work to bring over to an intel mac. It can go either way...
 

CWallace

macrumors 604
Aug 17, 2007
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While (no TB3 support is) not unexpected… it is a little disconcerting for me.
It could just be a side-effect of the A12Z SoC - it probably does not have a TB3 controller because no iPad Pro uses it.

Future Mac-specific SoCs can easily add TB support.

I purchased a 16-inch MacBook just a few months ago... How long will Apple provide macOS updates for Intel macs? And will apps developed for Apple Silicon work on Intel macs? Honestly not happy about this transition...
Intel support will be for many, many years.

As for "fat binaries" that support x86 and ARM architectures, that is a possibility.


Looks like they are discouraging people who just want a developer mac to experiment/mess around with.
Yup.


I am an iOS developer. Does it mean I am not entitled to purchase this if I do not have an existing Mac app?
You perhaps would not be one of the developers Apple would be prioritizing with the initial shipments.
 
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