Apple unveils M1, its first system-on-a-chip for Mac computers - 9to5Mac


I was a huge fan of Apple from 2007 to 2011. In 2011, I started to get this vibe from them that they wanted to make iPad and Mac the same. I think it was a subtle change in how application status was reflected in the dock. The upgrade to Lion removed a light in the dock below applications that were "running" rather than simply "pinned". I sometimes like to manage resources myself by killing applications and starting others. Apple's response to criticism on this change was essentially "You don't need to know if an application is running or not." I found this disconcerting, and discovered I fell right back into my old Linux habits without much trouble at all. I essentially eliminated all Apple products from my household because of this decision.

It seems like an irrationally strong reaction to such a small change. And I think it was! My thinking at the time was that Apple was trying to shift the Overton window towards having desktops start to follow a mobile computing paradigm, starting with process management. I see this as a risk because desktops are a last bastion of relatively free computing: open platforms that can developed for, forked, and improved without paying any fees, having to agree to a Terms of Service or End User License Agreement. But Apple had started to show signs of bringing the App Store to desktops in 2010, though that App Store was distinct from the iOS App Store. I had originally considered its launch Apple's attempt to replicate the success of the App Store on iOS.

But as OS X removed this light from the dock, I saw this trajectory whose end goal is likely to be total vertical integration, a fortress of technology that is completely controlled inside its borders. Some see this as a good trade for potential security benefits. I see it as a poor trade for the freedom it removes. So I left.

This week's announcement of the M1 is another step. M1 machines will run iOS apps natively, even when they have not been customized to do so by the developer. This change, combined with Catalina's "phone home for every executable" and increasingly-arduous hoops to jump through to run non-approved apps suggests Apple's strategy is to make one App Store for all devices, take their 30% cut of all purchases, and remove or allow software at will. Such a system would make computing very sad for me. It would be a big loss.

Naturally, Apple represents just one facet of our computing future, and the scope of that universe is constantly expanding. But their decisions set trends, inspiring followers to propagate them widely. And while I don't mind having Apple around as an option for people, I wouldn't want their computing model to dominate. I think a lot of the future hackers and makers are made by growing up around open technology and playing with it. A world filled with closed devices would really suppress this exploration, I think. I don't think anyone wins in that scenario.

Apple unveils M1, its first system-on-a-chip for Mac computers - 9to5Mac