macOS Monterey on Intel Macs won't be able to use some features

Although Apple would love to only sell Macs with its own chips, it hasn't completely dropped the ball on its Intel-based hardware, at least not immediately. That inevitable future will eventually come but most probably presumed it would be a slow journey. It is both surprising and unsurprising at the same time that Apple is getting the ball rolling as early as macOS Monterey later this year. It turns out that some of the release's big features will only be available to M1 Macs after all.

Apple most likely has obligations, both legal and moral, to keep to support its existing products, like the Intel Macs that currently make up the bulk of the company's currently available computers. There is nothing, however, that forces it to make new features available to older hardware, especially if those older Macs don't have the capability to support those features in the first place. That may be the reasoning and the excuse behind Apple's decision to make some of macOS Monterey's new features exclusive to M1 Macs.

The company's macOS Monterey Preview microsite lists all the juicy features coming macOS users' way, most of which the company already announced at its WWDC 2021 keynote. The footnote for those features, however, reveals that some of them require M1 Macs more than just specific year models or memory configurations. In particular, features like Live Text in Photos, Portrait mode in FaceTime, and speech-related features won't be available on Intel Macs.

Given what features are being withheld from these computers, Ars Technica theorizes that machine learning is to blame for this restriction. Apple has been particularly proud of the M1 Silicon's 16-core Neural Processing Unit and despite Intel's own boasts about the AI and ML capability of its chips, the latter may not have been sufficient for Apple's requirements.

Apple is naturally within its rights to introduce features that require more powerful hardware. It just so happens that that hardware is its own and leaves the majority of Mac owners out in the cold. It would be surprising if Apple will be accused of planned obsolescence but it has been through that dance before many times already.