This was going to be one of those “year in review” columns, but it bored me and would have bored you. Instead, I’m gonna kick off 2021 by naming Apple Silicon “The Best Technological Achievement of 2020.”
It Was A Pretty Good Year (When It Wasn’t Sucking)…
Apple had an excellent year technology-wise, introducing new devices like AirPods Max and HomePod Mini, along with better, faster, and even occasionally less-expensive iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Not to belittle those accomplishments, but transitioning from Intel processors to chips designed and manufactured by Apple specifically for the Mac will change the Mac (in a good way) forever.
After spending quality time with an M1-based MacBook Pro, I am totally convinced that our beloved Mac’s future has never been brighter. And given Apple’s penchant for introducing better and faster processors each year, the M1 is merely a starting point.
Mac’s Future’s so Bright I Gotta Wear Shades
The M1-powered notebooks introduced late last year are wicked fast and quieter than ever. They’re also remarkably affordable, but their best feature is 2X to 3X the previous models’ battery life. My Intel-based MacBook Pro gets 5 or 6 hours per charge if I’m lucky; the M1-based MacBook Pro went for at least 12 hours per charge and often more.
My point is that the M1 is merely the first generation of what I expect will be a growing family of Apple processors for the Mac. And, if Apple can double or triple MacBook battery life in its first outing, I’m sure we’ll see even more extended battery life in years to come. In fact, I predict that by the time Apple introduces the M5 processor (a few years from now), it will deliver 30 or more hours between charges.
More Cores Will Mean More Work in Less Time
Another thing: Although the M1 has an 8-core CPU, there’s no reason Apple can’t develop M series processors with more cores. As speedy as today’s 8-core M1-based Macs might be, think of how fast they’ll be when they have two or three times more CPU cores. I can’t wait to see future iMacs, iMac Pros, and Mac Pros (and hopefully MacBook Pros and Mac Minis, too) equipped with 16 or 24 core M-series processors.
Rosetta 2 is Remarkable
Finally, Apple’s Rosetta 2 technology is brilliant, allowing older apps built for Intel processors to run on M1-based Macs with little or no effect on performance. I was impressed with Rosetta 2, which allowed me to run pretty much all my favorite apps. While many of them have been updated to “Universal” versions that run natively on M1, even those that haven’t ran without a hitch thanks to Rosetta 2.
The first batch of M1-based models are available now, and Apple expects the transition to last a couple of years, so there will be more and more Apple Silicon choices over time. After using the M1-powered MacBook Pro, I doubt I’ll buy another Intel-based Mac.
If you’re in the market for a new 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac mini anytime soon, I urge you to consider one powered by Apple Silicon. You won’t regret it.