M1 MacBook Air review: nearly as transformative as the original

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  • Reply 41 of 50
    wizard69 said:
    bageljoey said:
    What is the word on compatibility with the Adobe Suite applications?  My son mostly uses those for his video and photo work. He has been limping along with a handed down Air.  Maybe it’s time to get a new machine. But I don’t want to go there if it’s going to introduce issues into his workflow...

    As for native software I've been using Mac Ports and it literally gets better everyday.   So open source is coming along at a good rate.    
    I'm an inexperienced MacPorts user but I've had pretty good luck so far. But I'm wondering if there is some way to find out what has been updated on MacPorts? I really need to read the documentation. 
    edited December 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 42 of 50

    Xed said:
    wizard69 said:
    Here are a few comments after a couple of weeks with an M1 based MBA:

    1.   I bought the machine due to the idea that it would be a better machine than an iPad for the types of usages that I have in mind for an iPad.   Basically an iPad with a keyboard nad an OS that doesn't suck.   In this regard the MBA has been a huge success.
    2.   In many ways I'm not really surprised at performance, if people have taken a serious look at iPad they would have realized that performance would be very good on an ARM based Mac.   So all of the noise about performance seems to be a bit artificial to me, we are getting pretty much what one would expect knowing what iPads have been doing.
    3.   The big surprise is how well Rossetta 2 works.    So far that is pretty satisfying as not everything is native yet.
    4.   Not everything is native but on the other hand we are getting native apps pretty quickly and they are generally pretty impressive.
    5.   Absolutely silence operation.  

    As to what I'm expecting from a refactored MBA in 2021:
    1.   They will get rid of the heat spreader and mount the processor directly to the case so that it functions as a heat sink.   This might require redefining what is the bottom of the case is vs the top but a case mounted processor will sink heat to atmosphere quicker and more efficiently.   This will lead to better performance in a fanless machine.
    2.   I don't expect a lot more ARM cores, maybe two if they can get below 5nm but rather improvements to the GPU.   An improved GPU would likely serve the needs of a greater range of MBA users than a lot more ARM cores.   If there is a place where M1 under delivers it is with respect to GPU performance (yes I know it is good but it should have been better).
    3.   With the same reason as in #2 above, I'm expecting Apple to put a lot of focus on Neural Engine and other AI/ML accelerators.   Still not sure how they will proceed here, but I suspect that Apple has a lot of plans in this area including morphing Mac OS into an AI power operating system.   Just imagine ML performance advancing as fast as Apple advanced its ARM cores.
    4.    Built in (optional) LTE support.   Seems like a no brainer to me, I'm not sure why iPad gets it while the MBA doesn't.
    5     Wireless charging.   This would make the two port MBA far more usable.    Many of us still need ports and this is perhaps the MBA's greatest shortcoming if you want to use if for technical work.   For me I have a desktop so I don't expect to do much of that on the MBA but just maybe for field work it could pass if charging had a separate avenue.   On the flips side I don't see the battery going dead out in the field during a normal work day.   Maybe more user experience is needed here.

    I otherwise don't see a need to upgrade the MBA physically.    The form factor is great, I don't use the web cam and the new keyboard is far better than the old crap from a couple of years ago.    More performance is always great and better heat sinking through the case would do much for that.   So any case refactoring would likely be to enable better thermals, not to enable new "design" as that does nothing for the user experience.  

    In any event M1 based MBA's are game changing as they have promoted Apple to a value leader which is odd on its own.
    I don't see LTE and wireless charging coming to Mac notebooks, even though I've wanted both. The extra long battery life and advanced that make connecting an iPhone to a Mac tell me that Apple has even less reason to add these features. Many years ago when I had an expensive USB dongle from Verizon to make my Mac connect over cellular I really wanted this to be built-in, but once they made tethering a built-in feature I no longer wanted that extra expense in HW or monthly contract costs.
    I can see LTE/5G as soon as Apple gets their LTE/5G modem working. It will be integrated into the follow on SoC to the A14 which means it can also be included in the follow on to the M1. The word is that the reason Apple doesn't support LTE on Mac notebooks is because the licensing rules from Qualcomm which requires payments based on the total price of the device. Once Apple has their own IP, they can do WLAN without ridiculous payments to Qualcomm.
    edited December 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 43 of 50
    entropys said:
    charlesn said:
    Great review! My biggest disappointment with the M1 MacBook Air is that it wasn't an M1 MacBook 12" which, IMO, is the most ideal form factor in a laptop for the masses that Apple has ever produced. (But I suspect their sales data indicates that "the masses" disagree.) My 1st gen MB12 still runs fine and remains perfectly quick enough for everyday business tasks.

    Once upon a time, the "Air," really was that, a true marvel that was a radical downsizing in size and weight from previous Apple laptops. But now? Not so much. It's an "air" in name only. It's essentially the same size as a MBP 13" and only a few ounces lighter. The MB 12 was over 3/4 pound lighter than the Air, essentially a laptop as easy to carry as an iPad. 

    That said, the new Air is such an impressive performer, it forces the MBP 13" into more of a niche corner for those who must have the absolute fastest speeds and support for multiple displays. I'll be curious to see the next iteration which I'm hoping will be the time to upgrade. Not looking for radical redesign--the Ives-era laptop designs were such a master class in merging form and function in as clean a way as possible, they mostly don't become dated. My wish list is for a thin-bezel 14" display, support for WiFi 6e and 5G cellular (would like both but would settle for either one), plus (finally!) a 1080p camera. 
    The rMB was a failure in the market for one reason: the single port. The older style MBAs with outdated processors at the time still outsold it because of that one thing.
    Agree that the single port was the issue, but I don't know that it was a failure in the market. All we know is that Apple decided that it wasn't worth having two different mass market laptop models, which isn't necessarily the same as the MB12 having "failed." I do hope the spirit of the MB12 is evident in the next major revision of the Air, and that we again have a consumer laptop that's in the 2 LB weight range. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 44 of 50
    dewme said:

    cpsro
    said:
    It bugs me that many traditional Apple Mac applications (Mail, Calendar, Contacts) under Big Sur have been redesigned for a touch interface, with extra space added to make it easier to select items unambiguously with one’s fingers, but the space is completely wasted because nobody has a touch screen Mac. On a 13” screen, the inefficiency is even more pronounced. A lot of people are working significantly less efficiently now, for no good reason. Apple needs to provide an option to revert to prior spacing.

    What does this mean with respect to the MacBook Air? Also, why would Apple design a UI around a computer they don’t make? I’d bet if you talk with a UX designer you’d gain some insight into why modern UI designs are following a more open and airy appearance with more white space. 

    Yeah i know, we’d all be much more efficient if we’d just learn how to use a keyboard properly and if all UIs followed the vi editor command paradigm and Wordstar keyboard shortcuts. 

    You may not like it, but it’s really a thing. 
    https://uxengineer.com/principles-of-design/white-space/


    If this "airy" design is really a thing then why wasn't it been a thing for so many years? Design principles don't change overnight. Your being stupidly snarky doesn't help your argument either, no one is saying to go back to interfaces that were created out of necessity due to the lack of sophisticated hardware. And people have every right to feel a design isn't helpful to them, if it's not helpful to them, period. Back when apple went overboard with being skeumorphic for no reason with lion people were protesting and that helped changed things for the better, or else we would be stuck with fake leather. 
  • Reply 45 of 50
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,019member
    chasm said:
    cpsro said:
    It bugs me that many traditional Apple Mac applications (Mail, Calendar, Contacts) under Big Sur have been redesigned for a touch interface, with extra space added to make it easier to select items unambiguously with one’s fingers, but the space is completely wasted because nobody has a touch screen Mac.
    I was initially going to ask you to clarify, because I"m using a 15-inch on Big Sur and not seeing any significant wasted space or "designed for touch" motifs in those apps at all (okay, a little on the right lower part of Calendar).

    Perhaps the problem is that you are using everything full-screen? I don't do that. Or maybe I just have waaaay too many calendar types, hahaha.
    Calendar is the least problematic by far. But everyone should be able to see Contacts shows half as many people in the same space as under previous versions of macOS. If you switch out of Big Sur Mail’s seductive new iPad-inspired view to the actually more productive List view of old, you’ll see half as many messages displayed. Many people complained about the extra menu bar icon spacing. It’s clearly all about having a consistent look across all Macs: old Macs and touchscreen Macs. For non-touchscreen Mac users, though, the space is entirely wasted and the new UI less efficient.
  • Reply 46 of 50
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,019member
    Xed said:
    cpsro said:
    It bugs me that many traditional Apple Mac applications (Mail, Calendar, Contacts) under Big Sur have been redesigned for a touch interface, with extra space added to make it easier to select items unambiguously with one’s fingers, but the space is completely wasted because nobody has a touch screen Mac. On a 13” screen, the inefficiency is even more pronounced. A lot of people are working significantly less efficiently now, for no good reason. Apple needs to provide an option to revert to prior spacing.
    Why do you think this is the case?
    Why do I think what is the case?
  • Reply 47 of 50
    XedXed Posts: 1,472member
    cpsro said:
    Xed said:
    cpsro said:
    It bugs me that many traditional Apple Mac applications (Mail, Calendar, Contacts) under Big Sur have been redesigned for a touch interface, with extra space added to make it easier to select items unambiguously with one’s fingers, but the space is completely wasted because nobody has a touch screen Mac. On a 13” screen, the inefficiency is even more pronounced. A lot of people are working significantly less efficiently now, for no good reason. Apple needs to provide an option to revert to prior spacing.
    Why do you think this is the case?
    Why do I think what is the case?
    You don't understand your original statement claiming macOS Big Sur was redesigned for a touch interface? 
    watto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 48 of 50
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,019member
    Xed said:
    cpsro said:
    Xed said:
    cpsro said:
    It bugs me that many traditional Apple Mac applications (Mail, Calendar, Contacts) under Big Sur have been redesigned for a touch interface, with extra space added to make it easier to select items unambiguously with one’s fingers, but the space is completely wasted because nobody has a touch screen Mac. On a 13” screen, the inefficiency is even more pronounced. A lot of people are working significantly less efficiently now, for no good reason. Apple needs to provide an option to revert to prior spacing.
    Why do you think this is the case?
    Why do I think what is the case?
    You don't understand your original statement claiming macOS Big Sur was redesigned for a touch interface? 
    Thanks for clarifying, as I made several statements. As for being designed for touch, IMHO there is no other plausible explanation for Apple to space items out so much except that touch Macs (or the equivalent) are imminent (my guess is March). Menubar icons seemed to be the first target of public criticism because everyone sees them and they are spaced too widely tor no apparent good reason. Double-spaced contacts in Contacts might not elicit much notice because people often search for specific contacts rather than scrolling through the entire list (which now consumes twice the height and takes twice as long to scroll through). Most people might have been thrilled to see the iPad-like design for Mail—which was (spoiler alert) designed for touch—and consequently overlooked the future implications for Mac hardware. Me, though, I’ve got tons of email to wade through each day and find the classic macOS List view tor messages far more efficient. The single spacing of messages in the classic List view is too tight for a touch UI—too difficult to select a message of interest. It’s terribly irritating to see such wasted space. Toolbar icons are also too widely spaced—except to accommodate touch. And did I mention the thin, barely legible fonts in Big Sur Mail’s List view? Ugh.
    edited December 2020 williamlondon
  • Reply 49 of 50
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,572member
    You can also run apps inside Rosetta 2, which is Apple's software that enables Intel-compiled apps to run on the M1. These apps will see a performance hit of varying degrees since they don't run natively.

    Two things about this misconception of what Rosetta 2 is and how it works: Rosetta 2 is not an emulator, and those translated Intel apps do run natively.

    Nothing is run inside of Rosetta 2, code is run through it; it is a translator. x86-64 code is translated into ARM code. This translation happens once, either when it is (re)installed or run for the first time. Those translated apps do in fact run "natively", insomuch that they are ARM instructions that are run directly through the CPU in the M1. That performance hit comes from the fact they are not directly compiled for the M1, and therefore are not fully optimized.

  • Reply 50 of 50
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,352member
    cpsro said:
    Xed said:
    cpsro said:
    Xed said:
    cpsro said:
    It bugs me that many traditional Apple Mac applications (Mail, Calendar, Contacts) under Big Sur have been redesigned for a touch interface, with extra space added to make it easier to select items unambiguously with one’s fingers, but the space is completely wasted because nobody has a touch screen Mac. On a 13” screen, the inefficiency is even more pronounced. A lot of people are working significantly less efficiently now, for no good reason. Apple needs to provide an option to revert to prior spacing.
    Why do you think this is the case?
    Why do I think what is the case?
    You don't understand your original statement claiming macOS Big Sur was redesigned for a touch interface? 
    Thanks for clarifying, as I made several statements. As for being designed for touch, IMHO there is no other plausible explanation for Apple to space items out so much except that touch Macs (or the equivalent) are imminent (my guess is March). Menubar icons seemed to be the first target of public criticism because everyone sees them and they are spaced too widely tor no apparent good reason. Double-spaced contacts in Contacts might not elicit much notice because people often search for specific contacts rather than scrolling through the entire list (which now consumes twice the height and takes twice as long to scroll through). Most people might have been thrilled to see the iPad-like design for Mail—which was (spoiler alert) designed for touch—and consequently overlooked the future implications for Mac hardware. Me, though, I’ve got tons of email to wade through each day and find the classic macOS List view tor messages far more efficient. The single spacing of messages in the classic List view is too tight for a touch UI—too difficult to select a message of interest. It’s terribly irritating to see such wasted space. Toolbar icons are also too widely spaced—except to accommodate touch. And did I mention the thin, barely legible fonts in Big Sur Mail’s List view? Ugh.
    I look at my menu bar picklists and Finder sidebar, and while there is certainly a bit more space between rows than there has previously been, it's a far cry from a touch optimised interface; the things are still way too close together for comfortable finger selection.

    I'm not saying you're definitely wrong but I don't think you're as definitely right as you think you are.  I think this might just be a questionable design decision from Apple, it doesn't have to be about touch at all.
    Detnator
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