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Here’s Why Dropbox Doesn’t Support Apple’s M1 Chip (It’s a Good Excuse)

The Dropbox logo over the MacBook Pro
Apple, Dropbox

Without the Rosetta emulation layer, Apple’s M1 chip wouldn’t be a success. Rosetta lets the M1 ARM architecture run x86 software without a hitch, reducing the need for developers to build native Apple Silicon versions of their apps. There’s just one problem—Rosetta emulation can gobble up RAM and power. And after a year of enjoying M1, Mac users are upset by Dropbox’s failure to release an Apple Silicon version of its app.

A ton of major apps still lack proper M1 support. Discord is a great example, but Mac users are aiming their frustrations at Dropbox, and they’re justified in doing so. Dropbox eats through battery life when running on Rosetta, an issue we learned about shortly after M1’s launch.

Despite this issue, Dropbox has seemingly ignored Apple Silicon’s existence, and recently asked customers to “vote” for an M1 version of its software. Any company that’s aware of the general computer market should understand the importance of native Apple Silicon apps. So what the hell is wrong with Dropbox? Can’t it just use Apple’s fancy tools to recompile its software for M1?

Well, maybe Dropbox isn’t as ignorant as we think. As explained by Steve Troughton-Smith, the Apple Silicon architecture presents a few hurdles for developers like Dropbox, particularly when it comes to kernel extensions (extra code that runs when the Mac boots). Apple requires M1 users to manually downgrade their security settings to allow kernel extensions on their device, though the process was more lax on previous versions of macOS.

Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston tweeted to confirm that Apple Silicon presents new technical challenges. He even states that Dropbox has been “working on M1 support for a while,” which is nice to hear. (That said, he doesn’t specify any technical challenges the company is facing. Also, his claim that Dropbox has been working on M1 support contradicts several posts on the Dropbox support forum.)

Altogether, Dropbox seems to have a good excuse for its current lack of M1 support. But there are still a few questions left—namely, why didn’t Google have this kind of trouble adding M1 support to its Drive desktop app?

Drew Houston now says Dropbox will gain native Apple Silicon support in the first half of 2022. But that’s a long way away, and to be frank, it feels like Dropbox came up with this arbitrary deadline to appease the mob of complaining Mac users.

If you’re tired of Dropbox eating at your M1 Mac’s battery and can’t wait half a year for Apple Silicon support, I suggest finding a new cloud storage solution. In most cases, that means moving your stuff to iCloud or Google Drive. Sorry, Dropbox.

Source: Steve Troughton-Smith, Drew Houston via 9to5Mac

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »