5 less-discussed points of the new M1 Macs

Apple’s new Macs have been well-covered in recent press. They’re an undeniable paradigm shift in computing. After using my M1 MacBook for a month, here are 5 less-discussed things I’ve learnt about Apple’s new computers.

1: The battery life is next-level, but Chrome and Spotify are still drains

The battery life in these new M1 MacBooks is nothing short of unbelievable, there’s simply no reason to keep them constantly tethered to the wall as you may have done with your old computer.

When using this MacBook Air, I expected a seismic shift in battery life. While this laptop certainly didn’t disappoint, you can still tell that Chrome and Spotify are not as optimised as Apple’s native apps.

Ok, granted, Spotify is still an old x86 app running through Apple’s translation app, Rosetta, so there’s scope to improve. However, as it runs on Chromium, the same as the similarly named browser, judging by the performance of the M1 optimised version of Google Chrome, there’s still significantly more power drain than a Safari workflow.

I’ll reiterate, don’t underestimate the power draw (or lack thereof) of Apple’s new devices. But, if you’re serious about getting the most battery life out of your new M1 MacBook, buy the Pro and stick to Apple’s suite of apps.

2: Some iOS apps are actually useful on the Mac

I was admittedly too excited to be able to run iOS apps on my new MacBook, in hindsight, it’s a trivial feature. In its current implementation it’s an experience that’s unapologetic about not being designed for the Mac’s hardware (exhibiting a surprising lack of finesse for Apple). However, there are some occasions where running an iOS app on the Mac is actually useful.

Take Authy, my 2FA app. While there is a Mac client available, it’s not in the App Store, and it’s currently not optimised for Apple Silicon, or Big Sur. Head to the App Store on your fancy new computer, and you’ll find the iOS version of Authy waiting for you. It’s faster than its Mac counterpart, and has a UI that’s better in both implementations. Win win!

Remember, not every iOS app is available on the Mac through the App Store, but, there is a workaround to download any app you own to your M1 Mac (update: sadly, Apple has now blocked this workaround). Using this bodge, I’ve added my favourite weather app, Dark Sky, to my Mac — handy for checking the weather on my laptop before I head out.

3: If your work laptop is a Mac, perhaps expect an upgrade soon

It’s easy to see why Apple updated their consumer-focused laptops first. For the workflows of your average Joe, these M1 Macs are faster, quieter and with better battery life than any Intel computer before.

For enterprise customers, or other professionals, there are bound to be some incompatibilities with a transition as large as this. However, from my limited testing, I’ve not run into a single issue with any Mac app I’ve tried. Not one.

Installing all my apps on this machine for the first time, I had a few concerns over Fetch (FTP client, and a a bit of a Mac classic) as well as Caffeine (which I still use despite its recent lack of support). Both worked just fine, with no qualms through Rosetta.

While my testing is limited, in all cases, Apple’s translation layer Rosetta does an astonishing job at rewriting all of your old Intel apps to run on these new computers. Even older apps have no trouble running on this radically different hardware.

There are still a few issues with setting up computers with an M1 chip for an enterprise setting. However, a quick browse on Mac enterprise tool JAMF’s forum, it seems many enterprise customers are anticipating a move to Apple Silicon soon.

4: These laptops will ruin all other laptops for you

I have a crappy HP laptop provided by my employer. Much like Macs of recent times, it’s equipped with an Intel chip. While it’s a perfectly acceptable laptop, its fan doesn’t stop running, ever. Web browsing? Managing files? Chewing through your emails? The fan is always on.

This MacBook Air doesn’t even have a fan, so it’s always silent. Not having that fan spinning in the background sounds like a worry, will these computers get too warm? It’s clear that Apple have done their homework, these Macs are cool and quiet while still being wicked fast! They’re a real game-changer.

If you’ve never spotted the fan in your current laptop in the past, you’ll soon be aware of its presence if you move back after using an M1 Mac for a few days. Buyer beware.

5: M1 Macs are here for the long-haul

First generation Apple products often fizzle out fast. Take the iPad for example, released in April 2010 and receiving its last update a short 2 years later, the OG iPad was not a good investment. The same can be seen with the first generation Apple Watch. It’s slow chip and heavy reliance on the iPhone made it a total drag straight out of the box! It’s often unwise to buy the first generation of a new Apple product.

While a limited argument, it’s important to remember these are not first generation products, they just have first generation chips. Macs and macOS are incredibly well supported, and will be, well, forever!

These Macs are such a quantum leap that it’s hard not to recommend them to any prospective computer customers right now. I predict that much like the iPhone X, which introduced a radical shift in the iPhone’s design, the M1 Macs will experience a long and trouble-free life.

Allying to Apple’s recent double-down on environmental sustainability, Apple shy away from making products with a short shelf-life. The power of these computers, coupled with their tried and tested design, mean they’ll just keep on going in ways that their recent contemporaries weren’t able.

If you want your laptop to last even longer, make sure you get the upgraded 16GB memory, and an SSD that will be sufficient for your needs in years to come.

Apple aren’t scared of testing new products on their customers, but these new computers don’t feel like that’s the case.