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Amazon adds Mac Minis to its cloud to assist Apple developers

Mac instances can be used to build and test macOS, iOS, ipadOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
December 1, 2020
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Amazon is bringing the Mac Mini to the cloud for developers who want cloud-based build and test machines for any Apple device app. The new “EC2 Mac instances” use physical Mac Minis with Intel i7 six-core chips and 32GB of RAM. However, AWS plans to roll out M1 Mac Minis as well within the first half of 2021, the company told TechCrunch.

“Powered by Mac Mini hardware and the AWS Nitro System, you can use Amazon EC2 Mac instances to build, test, package, and sign Xcode applications for the Apple platform including macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and Safari,” wrote Amazon evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post.

The EC2 Mac instances use unmodified Mac Minis installed into racks on service sleds. You’ll also get full access to your own machine that’s not shared with any other users, rather than just a virtualized instance. “We wanted to make sure that we support the Mac Mini that you would get if you went to the Apple store and you bought a Mac Mini,” said AWS VP David Brown.

You’ll pay for that privilege. It costs $1.083 per hour with a minimum 24 hours to get started, with billing done by the second thereafter. That’s considerably more than other Mac Mini cloud providers, as TechCrunch noted, though Amazon is promising all the benefits of a regular AWS server, including speed, security and granular controls. The company can also deliver different machine images for past and upcoming macOS versions.

“You can literally launch these machines in minutes and have a working machine available to you,” said Brown. “If you decide you want 100 of them, 500 of them, you just ask us for that and we’ll make them available.” The Mac instances are now available for testing in the various regions in the US, Europe and Asia, with others to follow later.

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