By Jason Snell
July 27, 2021 12:27 PM PT
In a surprise twist, a macOS Monterey feature previously advertised as being available only on M1 Macs will now be available on Intel Macs as well.
The feature, Live Text, uses the Neural Engine on Apple-designed processors to convert text in images into text you can select and copy. But in the just-released fourth beta of macOS Monterey, Live Text has also been enabled on Intel Macs.
My understanding is that on Intel Macs, Apple is using GPU-based processing power to do the analysis of the images. Unlike iPhones and iPads, which are commonly used to take pictures which might immediately need to be analyzed for Live Text, on the Mac there’s a little more leeway for slightly less-than-instantaneous processing of text.
That said, my understanding is that Live Text—on M1 or Intel—is never intended to present any sign that you need to wait while text is being processed. The feature should be identical on both architectures.
It seems likely that this feature was original targeted for both architectures, and then disabled on Intel Macs in early betas because it just wasn’t good enough to release. Its appearance in this beta is perhaps a positive sign that Apple isn’t rushing Intel Macs into obsolescense.
(Live Text also gets my vote for this OS update cycle’s best stealth feature. It doesn’t seem like much when it’s described, but when you use a device with Live Text enabled, it changes how you see and interact with images. It’s instantly useful in numerous contexts.)
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