Software Developers Move to Universal Binaries

On January 10, 2006, Apple released the new iMac.  It made history as the first Intel based Mac.  And with the new Mac portable (oddly dubbed MacBook Pro) shipping some time in February, the transition to Universal Binaries is now in full swing.

A Universal Binary is software that includes two compiled versions of the code.  One is compiled for the PowerPC processor and the other is for Intel based chips.  The Universal Binary takes both compiled version and includes them in the same application.  The goal is to provide one application that will run regardless of the processor maker.  This concept is crucial if Apple is to successfully transition to a line of computers that are strictly Intel based.

Less than a month after the first release of the new hardware, the software transition appears to be in full swing.  More Universal software is being released every day.  That is great if you know where to watch for updates, but many people don’t.  That is why Apple has started a web page that lists software that has been updated to include universal support.

While it is great that Apple is keeping track of this list, I still prefer  The folks at MacUpdate have been tracking Mac applications for years.  And they not only track whether or not the application is currently Universal, they also maintain a reliable database listing the latest available version of all Macintosh software. now has a dedicated listing showing all applications that are currently Intel-Compatible.

Whether they use Apple’s listing, or MacUpdate’s, owners of new Intel based Macs will want to keep an eye out.  More applications are being updated everyday.  Since Intel systems show a dramatic performance increase when run with Universal Binaries, it is essential to keep up to date with current and future software releases.  These two sites make the process much easier.


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