It's time to drop apps that don't support Apple Silicon natively

Posted:
in Mac Software
Developers have had a year from the first shipments of Apple Silicon hardware and even longer than that if you consider the changes Apple has made over the last several years, so if they haven't yet made native software, it's time to question just how much you can rely on any Mac support from them in the future.

You can look, but you still won't find every Mac app running natively on Apple Silicon
You can look, but you still won't find every Mac app running natively on Apple Silicon


The time to cut your losses is before you have to. At some point, Apple is going to cease supporting Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon, and when it does, all non-native apps will cease to work.

That will probably take a couple of years, just as it did after the first Rosetta and the move to Intel processors. Still, the end is coming and you would think that this would focus developers' minds -- yet it hasn't. Not for all developers.

In early 2021, AppleInsider compiled a list of 100 key Mac apps, a cross-section sample of popular and significant ones, and tracked their progress. You could never track every possible Mac app, but this snapshot took in a specific enough range that you could use it to measure how successful Apple was being with Apple Silicon.

Now it's more a measure of how much developers are failing.

Apple Silicon is so clearly established that it's impossible to remember a time when it wasn't, or to recall just how big a leap Apple was taking. Apple Silicon is no longer some potential future, it is a real future and a real present, too.

Now if you're a developer who has not updated to Apple Silicon, it isn't because you think Apple might fail, it's because you're letting your customers down. And a surprising number of developers are still doing just that.

Some movement in the last seven months, but not much

In March 2021, 35 of our list of 100 were not on Apple Silicon. As of the end of October, 2021, something in the order of 29 still aren't.

Yet there is something so revealing in how it isn't possible to give a definite number. AppleInsider ultimately put developers in the "no" list if they refused to answer, or if all they would keep saying was that their app works great -- under Rosetta.

Those reactions would be enough to make you suspect that all companies know that they need to make this move, and that they know telling customers they aren't going to do it is a way to cut their own throats. So they hedge, and they also entirely ignore long discussion threads on their own support forums.

Dropbox has being doing that since June, for instance, and only announced that it would go to native Apple Silicon after publicly pressure. Even then, the company says that native support isn't coming until the first half of 2022.

Considering that Tim Cook announced Apple's two-year plan in June 2020, that means Dropbox will do this in the last six months of the entire transition period. Considering that Dropbox has been noticeably a resource and battery drain under Rosetta, it's hard to make a case that the company is very concerned about its Mac users.

We'll never know for sure whether Dropbox made this decision under pressure, or whether they've really been working on it for a year or more without telling anyone.

For there are companies who say that's what they're doing. QuarkXPress has not announced any plans for Apple Silicon and seemingly isn't going to yet, but its support teams are telling customers that it's coming.

A similar thing happened with Evernote. Just as with Dropbox, customers were asking Apple Silicon on the various support discussion threads, and the company was basically saying they'd think about it. If it's that important to you, they implied, we'll consider it as a feature request.

What that really means is that Evernote and Dropbox support teams don't know what Apple Silicon is. They got lambasted for this, but they really just responded the way they would have done to any request for a new feature.

Apps are steadily moving to Apple Silicon M1, but there are some surprising holdouts
Apps are steadily moving to Apple Silicon M1, but there are some surprising holdouts


You can lament the company's training, and you can question their dedication to the Mac, but you can't knock their support people.

What you can do after all of this -- no update, no announcement, and at best confusing support answers -- is to take matters into your own hands. At some point, Rosetta 2 is going to go away, and non-native apps will be switched off like a lightbulb.

Don't wait.

If there are companies who are going to be astonished on the day every single one of their customers phones up to complain, they are not companies you can rely on at all.

Time to jump ship

A strong possibility is that a developer is not earning enough from a Mac app to warrant the investment it will take to move to native Apple Silicon. That is understandable, but this is also then a company that isn't going to support its current app either.

Similarly, it could be that a developer is not making the move because they have more work to do than most. If they haven't been good citizens and developed within Apple's guidelines, if they've taken shortcuts for instance, then their app was also going to break some time anyway.

So if you have a non-native app that you rely on, ask the developer whether and when they're going to move to Apple Silicon.

Only, don't wait for the answer. Users have been asking about this since June 2020, and through Apple projects like Marzipan, companies have had over a year more to get started on this.

So ask, but start looking for alternatives anyway. Few Mac apps are unique -- and the ones that are have moved to Apple Silicon -- so most have competitors that might suit you. And sometimes they are closer to hand than you'd think.

There is always an alternative

Take Evernote, for instance. Maybe it'll come to Apple Silicon, surely it will, but the company is ignoring users about this -- and it's doing so at the worst possible time. Not only is Evernote being left behind, it's being left behind by Apple.

Where Evernote used to be strong and Apple Notes was a joke, now Apple Notes is a serious alternative. It's getting more so, too, with recent improvements like the transformative Quick Note.

Similarly, Apple also offers what could be a strong alternative to Dropbox, if that firm delays any longer. Apple's iCloud has only recently become a viable contender for group file sharing, and it works best when all users are on Apple's platform, but it works well, and it is a contender.

Plus if you want to share documents cross platform and you want native Apple Silicon support when you're on a Mac, you've got Google Drive.

The move to Apple Silicon could be an opportunity to explore new and potentially better software and service alternatives. It's not as if it's any easier now to find time to check out alternatives when you're busy trying to get your work done, but there is a greater urgency, which really does focus the mind.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    I agree with the article. Personally, I have Objective-C hobby projects that still compiles in the latest Xcode 13. It’s very clear that devs who follow Apple coding guidelines are going to have to make extra efforts from the start (not taking shortcuts and be careful about using 3rd-party libraries), but the reward is big if you do.

    It was also very clear that companies who cheaped out by using Electron for portable web apps got punished hard when they had to wait for the Electron project to get their act together.
    JWSCikirasdasdjony0cat52watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 55
    The one the that is different with this version of Rosetta is that they own the code rather than the Motorola spinoff that got acquired and discontinued. So Rosetta 2 could be with us for quite a while. 
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 55
    ...is newer always better...?   Let the unbridled tech futurists unite...

    I still use iWeb in both High Sierra + if needed eventually in Snow Leopard Server in Parallels,
    as one of my all time favourite applications to come out of Cupertino, sigh...

    ...I expect there may also be a number of orphaned 32 bit apps in my future too...
    edited October 28 rezwitselijahg
  • Reply 4 of 55
    They can't kill Rosetta 2 if you don't upgrade OS. I've stuck with 10.12 to make crappy old InDesign run. Procured new iMac late summer to replace it and downloaded Rosetta to make Quark XPress work. Worst case scenario, my last OS will be one before Rosetta dies. I used Quark 4 until like 2012 when I toiled for HateHouse Media, so I know value of old tech now that I'm sole proprietor of own weekly.
    arthurbaJosephAUwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 55
    shaminoshamino Posts: 490member
    So the author is saying what?

    Apple will someday cut off support for apps that don't upgrade, so you should summarily stop using them today.

    To what purpose?  Make sure you suffer today instead of waiting for some unspecified time in the future when you might (or might not) be forced to?

    That sounds pretty counter-productive to me.  Especially when Apple hasn't even completed their hardware transition.
    elijahgroundaboutnowarthurbawilliamlondonosmartormenajrdewmegodofbiscuitstyler82macplusplusshareef777
  • Reply 6 of 55
    There isn’t always a alternative! We use Broadcast cameras from Sony. These cameras use SXS Cards as memory card. Sony doesn’t support with their device driver Apple Silicon. It’s impossible to ingest content to M1 Macs 🤨
    arthurbawilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 55
    approx said:
    There isn’t always a alternative! We use Broadcast cameras from Sony. These cameras use SXS Cards as memory card. Sony doesn’t support with their device driver Apple Silicon. It’s impossible to ingest content to M1 Macs 🤨
    Can you not just use a SXS card reader? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 55
    approx said:
    There isn’t always a alternative! We use Broadcast cameras from Sony. These cameras use SXS Cards as memory card. Sony doesn’t support with their device driver Apple Silicon. It’s impossible to ingest content to M1 Macs 🤨
    Sony makes nice products, but they were early adopters of concept of proprietary tech that only plays nicely with other Sony products.
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 55
    rmoormoo Posts: 23member
    shamino said:
    So the author is saying what?

    Apple will someday cut off support for apps that don't upgrade, so you should summarily stop using them today.

    To what purpose?  Make sure you suffer today instead of waiting for some unspecified time in the future when you might (or might not) be forced to?

    That sounds pretty counter-productive to me.  Especially when Apple hasn't even completed their hardware transition.
    Seems like someone is taking the business decisions of software companies and developers personally. The result of this current age of tech fandom where companies and their CEOs are the new Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant. Not that fandom of celebrities in any way better mind you. 
    michelb76sbdude
  • Reply 10 of 55
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,022member
    My plan is to maintain an Intel Mac on the last Version of OSX which supports the older apps. There are apps I use from time to time which most likely will not updated nor do I want to spend money again to buy new apps which support Apple Silicon. I do not use those Apps enough to make the investment again. Then I will have a new Apple Silicon mac with the latest Apps I used all the time.
    arthurbarezwitsJWSCtyler82watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 55
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,130member
    What a crock.

    There are still lots of Intel Mac users out there using software that runs perfectly well on Intel Macs, that is not in active development. The software is still good, and there’s no reason whatsoever to drop it.

    The relentless march for the new leaves lots of casualties in its wake, and I quite like a lot of software that will never be updated for Apple Silicon. There are some apps I really liked that never got upgraded to 64 bit and I eventually left them behind, but not without regret. I imagine there was some good Power PC or Moto 68000 apps that got left behind too.  

    There’s no reason whatsoever to celebrate the rush into a loss of functionality.   Do so at your own pace, when the benefits outweigh the costs, not because of a dumb principle.
    elijahgarthurbarezwitsblurpbleepblooposmartormenajrdewmegodofbiscuitsmuthuk_vanalingamtyler82macplusplus
  • Reply 12 of 55
    Just another Dropbox alternative.  Box has added Apple Silicon support and is now using the native APIs as well...

    Interesting how many developers didn't take notes after what happened to QuarkXpress.  It was THE page layout program.  Then it didn't get on board with the migration to Mac OS X and actually suggested people should just switch to Windows.  How'd that go over for Quark???
    king editor the grate12Strangersp-dogpizzaboxmacroundaboutnowrezwitsJWSCtyler82macplusplusjony0
  • Reply 13 of 55
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,509member
    This is the second weird article by William Gallagher, the other being “No, Apple is not making better products because Jony Ive left”. Following this article’s logic, my Intel iMac will be obsolete some day so I should bin it now. What ridiculous logic. 

    Sorry for the stupidly large font, fighting this abysmal forum software especially on mobile isn’t worth it. How many more years until it’s fixed? 

    Edit: was just an editor display bug. Lovely. 
    edited October 28 osmartormenajrdewmemuthuk_vanalingamtyler82michelb76sbdude
  • Reply 14 of 55

    I find the tone of this article really disturbing.

    The majority of MacOS apps that natively support M1 have been compiled on Intel MacOS with the Xcode cross compiler/universal binary - not on M1 natively.  

    Application developers like me are developing on Intel hardware for 3 Intel platforms (Linux, Windows and Mac).  Now I can't even buy an MBP to develop on any more.  The odd platform out that makes our life difficult it going to come waaaay down our list of priorities.

    I've written a more detailed reply elsewhere in the forum: https://forums.appleinsider.com/discussion/224834/the-last-mac#latest




    williamlondonosmartormenajrPhinehasdewmegodofbiscuitsmuthuk_vanalingamtyler82michelb76macplusplusvedelppa
  • Reply 15 of 55
    Why drop support for Rosetta 2? It is one of the best selling features of the Apple Silicon Macs. You can count on them being able to do the job.
    elijahggodofbiscuitsmuthuk_vanalingamtyler82macplusplus
  • Reply 16 of 55
    This article was written by someone who doesn’t understand:

    Managing Complex change
    Interdisciplinary Thinking
    Systems Thinking
    Software Development 
    Devops
    Business Management
    Budgets and Economics
    Project Management 
    And so on…

    or maybe they do understand these things and they were just having a bad day…

    dewmegodofbiscuitsmuthuk_vanalingamtyler82macplusplusvedelppaFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 17 of 55
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,638member
    The only way to incentivize reluctant developers is to hit ‘em hard in the pocketbook. Really hard 
    ikir
  • Reply 18 of 55
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,950member
    Software product development is no different than any other business. They want to keep their customers happy, keep their stakeholders happy, crush their competition, and make a boatload of money. Everything they want to work on must compete for time, resources, capital, people, and attention/mindshare investment against everything else the company is trying to go after. 

    It’s never as simple as seeing Apple drop some new technical bits and suddenly deciding to drop everything else that is already in the pipeline, like customer new feature requests and architectural initiatives, flushing the already overflowing product backlog, and context switching the organization over to supporting the shiny new Apple (or Microsoft) stuff. If you think that this is possible you are unfamiliar with professional product development or are a hobbyist. 

    No disrespect intended, just a reminder that there’s a huge difference between running a business that has a significant customer base and set of stakeholders versus being a hobbyist, a one person shop, or a startup hoping to cash in on exploiting the new Apple technology, or being someone totally unfamiliar with the multiple competing demands of product development, or specifically, software product development. I’m rather surprised at the glaring naïveté of the author of this article. Anyone who manages a household understands the reality of having to balance multiple competing priorities that require investment of a finite supply of time, money, and attention. Businesses are no different.
    muthuk_vanalingammacpluspluselijahgmike1FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 55
    Wow.  This is a f'ing HOSTILE article.  Use the software that gets the job done.  Apple provided Rosetta 2 -- a GREAT piece of technology -- for a good reason.  it didn't provide it for developers, it provided it for customers.   Apple supports it.  Apple supports Intel binaries running as translated ARM binaries on Apple Silicon.  Keep in mind that your Apple Silicon Mac is *never* running emulations as these apps run.  Your Mac is *always* running native machine code -- the translation is done at install time or at first launch and that's all.    Yes, developers supporting it directly is the end-goal, but that day isn't here yet.

    When *APPLE* says it's time to have Apple Silicon support in apps submitted to the App Stores or they won't be accepted, that's when the day is here. It's not up to Apple Insider to tell you that.  
    muthuk_vanalingamtyler82macplusplusdewmeelijahgFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 20 of 55
    lkrupp said:
    The only way to incentivize reluctant developers is to hit ‘em hard in the pocketbook. Really hard 

    Really?  How hard?  And with what?  Most people already expect apps to be free and with infinite updates forever, so what TF are you gonna hit 'em with?
    muthuk_vanalingamtyler82elijahgFileMakerFeller
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