Apple’s focus on the needs of professional computer users for its Macs and iPads ‘for the rest of us’ continues on news the company is developing a new ‘Pro Mode’ that pushes more performance for some apps.
The PC market will become a high-end market
Apple is focused on pro users because it recognizes that this section of the PC market will be the bulwark against wholesale replacement of computers with mobile devices.
Year by year, mobile systems are becoming increasingly viable alternatives for a growing quantity of the tasks PCs and Macs have traditionally handled.
An iPhone or iPad is all the computer required by many users, as the billion or so iOS devices currently in use prove.
This leaves a shrinking space for low-cost budget PCs and suggests the most robust part of the market is to be found in high-end systems.
That appears to be what Apple is betting on as it prioritizes Mac revenue growth – and this is also why the number of Mac units sold is less relevant than before, given so many PCs are replaced by mobile devices, or even low cost, low profit PCs.
It’s about how many Macs are sold into the more robust and less subject to mobile device replacement professional markets.
Apple’s pro Mac offerings are designed for those markets that are most resistant to replacement by mobile devices: music and movie/video production; games and interactive experience development; professional photography; architecture and design; scientific research and so on.
Such users will benefit from Apple’s purported Pro Mode, as they will be able to accelerate application performance for the tasks that most matter to them.
What is Pro Mode?
Pro Mode sounds a little like an on-demand overclocking technology.
As reported by 9to5Mac, a reference to it is included in the latest macOS Catalina 10.15.3 beta and it is described as something that can be turned on or off on demand by users.
The beta tells us that when in ProMode:
“Apps may run faster, but battery life may decrease and fan noise may increase.”
The beta seems to suggest that fan speed (and Pro Mode) will remain active overnight if not manually switched off.
The latter makes sense in some instances, such as when leaving your Mac to handle challenging rendering tasks overnight.
The report suggests the mode is aimed particularly at MacBook Pro users, citing improvements in the thermal design in the latest devices.
Effectively, the description seems to show systems that can optimize system performance in order to rouse more power and performance from specific apps, but does so on an ad hoc basis, enabling users to pick when to fully exploit the potential. (ie. When the system is connected to power).
Apple’s pro app teams
There has long been demand among Mac users for ways to safely optimize the power and performance of Macs beyond the box spec. At one time, the Mac market included companies (such as the still active Sonnet)whose sole focus was to make components that could boost Mac performance – effectively upgrading existing Macs.
Many Mac users may also have made use of software overclock tools designed to push system performance beyond official specifications.
The problem with such tools being that in some cases this made systems unstable or may even have caused damage, as the heat generated by overclocked systems exceeded the ability of the Mac’s thermal systems to maintain safe temperatures.
(A long time ago, I witnessed people point desk fans at overclocked Macs in an attempt to prevent them automatically shutting down when they get too hot).
Apple has teams of Mac users it works with in order to understand what its professional users need, and this on the ground knowledge now informs decisions it takes when designing new Macs.
This is particularly evident in the new (modular) Mac Pro.
With this in mind it seems quite possible that Apple is developing Pro Mode in answer to requests from those high-end users it works with, who sought some way in which to safely maximize Mac performance for specific high-end tasks.
It will be interesting to see how Apple positions this new software feature (if it ever ships), particularly in light of the new MacBook Pro models it is expected to introduce this year.
It will also be interesting to see if the company includes this capacity within the Mac mini, which is seeing use in pro markets for some demanding tasks.
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