Apple released the newest version of their macOS operating system - macOS Monterey - on October 25, 2021. It is available as a free update for those with compatible apple devices. It is an incremental improvement over macOS Big Sur and even though it includes some big features, most users won’t notice as big of a difference as when they upgraded to macOS Big Sur or macOS Catalina.
We have been using macOS Monterey for a couple weeks and haven’t experienced any issues. VueScan is now being built for macOS Monterey and we have experienced no issues with any scanners. So we are proud to announce that it is now officially supported.
VueScan on Apple Silicon and M1
Even though macOS Monterey isn’t a big change, if the way you first encounter it is by buying a computer with Apple Silicon/M1 then the change is going to seem pretty stark. The performance has been incredible and we have enjoyed getting to use them to develop VueScan.
VueScan has a long history of supporting multiple architectures. In fact, VueScan has a long history of supporting multiple architectures. VueScan supported PowerPC for many years until the Intel transition. VueScan also used to have an iOS and Android app called VueScan Mobile that supported WiFi scanners using the same VueScan codebase as we used in VueScan. VueScan also works on Windows RT and Windows 10 ARM as well as ARM linux devices like the Raspberry Pi.
One of the strenghts of VueScan is that because we develop the drivers ourselves, we can roll them out to multiple operating systems/architectures (ARM/x86) at the same time. We also are able to develop them in a fairly device independent way and then when a new platform or architectures comes out we can just change the necessary part and have it work for all drivers.
What kind of scanner incompatabilities are there?
Compared with previous operating system releases, macOS Monterey didn’t have a lot of incompatibilities that we needed to fix. There were some minor problems at the macOS SDK level but at the driver level everything continued to work just fine.
In the past few years there have been many problems when new macOS operating systems have been released. The biggest change was Apple’s move from 32-bit software to 64-bit software. This meant that all of the software that was released in the 32-bit era would need to be recompiled and re-released. This was something we had been ready for years since we had been dual releasing 32-bit and 64-bit versions of VueScan.
Another change was Apple started requiring that all macOS software be Notarized. This is a system that helps Apple detect and mitigate malicious software. But because there is a lot of scanner software that was released before notarization was required, it stopped working when Apple started requiring it. The manufacturers could rebuild their software and notarize it, but many didn’t do that for their much older packages.
Last year, when the M1 was first released there was a lot of fears that there was going to be large scale incompatibilities around the switch to ARM based processors. But Apple released a piece of software called Rosetta 2. This emulates the old x86 code and means that app developers don’t need to recompile their apps
Why don’t scanner manufacturers release new software
Sometimes they do! But I think it depends on the reason for the incompatibility and how they think they can fix the issue. For example, let’s say that that there is a class of old scanners based on an old protocol that was released 10 years ago and the staff that worked on that have all moved on to other projects. A product manager realizes that there is an issue with the latest version of macOS. He asks his team to take a look at it, but they barely remember how the code works, barely remember what tools they needed to build the software, and barely remember how the protocol even worked. So they rightly tell the product manager that it will take them quite a lot of time to figure out the issues and release new software. All the while, the scanner manufacturer isn’t going to make any additional revenue from this new software since the manufacturer only makes money when they sell the hardware.
What should I do if my scanner doesn’t work on macOS Monterey
The first step is to try downloading the latest version of VueScan. VueScan should automatically connect to your scanner in most cases and you should just be able to press the “Scan” button. If that doesn’t work, please let us know here. Not only do we want to fix it for you, but we also want to know about any potential scanner compatibility problems so that we can fix it for all users.