Amazon Web Services to offer macOS on-demand in the cloud, in new appeal to Apple developers

Amazon Web Services will provide software developers with access to macOS on-demand in the cloud for the first time, promising to speed up the process and reduce the cost of making software for Apple’s computers and devices.

graphical user interface: Dave Brown, Amazon EC2 vice president, announces the new Mac Instances on Monday night.

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Dave Brown, Amazon EC2 vice president, announces the new Mac Instances on Monday night.

Announced on the eve of the AWS re:invent conference Monday night, Amazon EC2 Mac Instances represent an unexpected expansion beyond Linux and Windows for AWS. Amazon says it was motivated by a desire to meet the needs of the community of more than 28 million developers who offer apps through the Apple App Store.

“Until now, development of these apps for the Apple platform was not possible within the AWS cloud,” said Dave Brown, AWC EC2 vice president, during the event. “Many of our customers had to manage their own fleet of Macs for their build processes.”

Amazon says developers will be able to use the Amazon EC2 Mac Instances to build, test, package and sign Xcode apps for macOS, iOS, iPad OS, tvOS, watchOS and the Safari browser, according to an AWS blog post. The instances run on Mac mini hardware with 8th generation Intel Core i7 processors, not the newer Mac mini hardware with Apple’s M1 chips.


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EC2 is shorthand for Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon’s flagship service for accessing computing in the cloud. The macOS instances use the AWS Nitro System.

As with other cloud services, developers will be able to increase or reduce capacity depending on their needs at any given moment. Amazon says the macOS instances will be available under its standard pay-as-you-go pricing model.

The extent to which Amazon and Apple partnered on the initiative isn’t yet clear, but an Amazon news release quotes Bob Borchers, Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing, saying Apple is “thrilled to make development for Apple’s platforms accessible in new ways, and combine the performance and reliability of our world-class hardware with the scalability of AWS.”

The announcement of Amazon EC2 Mac Instances was the surprise news during the traditional late-night session on the eve of the first AWS re:Invent keynote. The company has made some of its more offbeat announcements at the late-night session in the past, such as the AWS Snowmobile semi truck for transporting data.

AWS re:Invent, normally held in Las Vegas for one week each year, is taking place virtually this year, live-streamed from the Amazon campus in Seattle and spanning three weeks. AWS CEO Andy Jassy will deliver his keynote Tuesday morning.

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