I’ve been using the new M1 MacBook Pro, 13-inch as my main computer for the last 2 weeks. For the last 5 years, my portable computer has been a 12.9 inch iPad Pro. It is light and has all day battery life. When I need the power of a Mac, I used a 2017 iMac with lots of storage and memory (64 GBs). When I bought this M1 MacBook, I thought it would be more of an experiment, trying out the bleeding edge of what Apple has to offer, but still not a replacement for my iMac. But over these 2 weeks, I’ve barely used either my iMac or iPad. I feel like now it can be a replacement for both computers. I also bought the LGE 27-inch 5K monitor to plug in the MacBook, so when plugged in, I have the same screen real estate as my iMac. When I need portability, I unplug the monitor and I’m good to go.
The only time I actually prefer my iPad is for reading books or pdfs, where I can use the Apple Pencil for highlighting and notes. The iMac I haven’t missed at all. I thought going down from 64 GBs to 16 GBs in memory would make a difference in tasks, such as Xcode builds, but as far as I can tell, Xcode performs better on the M1 than the iMac with 4 times as much memory!
It’s amazing to flip open the lid and you can immediately start typing. I know it’s a small thing, but it is something that makes your computing life so much better. It’s hard to believe the computer even went to sleep.
I’m most impressed at the performance of Xcode. Even with my iMac with 64 GB of memory, there are times when the UI is just sluggish. Ctrl-dragging from a widget to the swift code can just be inexplicably slow and janky. All of these weird speed slowdowns and glitches I’ve always experienced in Xcode just never happen on the M1. It’s just as smooth as typing in TextEdit or some other simple app.
Another thing that used to be slow and painful is starting up a new Simulator. It was so slow that I’d avoid starting up a new simulator if I really didn’t need it. Now it is so much faster that I have no hesitation to test across different iPhone models.
The other thing that is amazing is the battery life. I spent an entire Saturday using just the battery. Doing heavy tasks like watching videos and using Xcode. By the end of the day, the battery was still at 65%! This is even better battery life than I get on my iPad Pro!
iPad/iPhone apps are just baffling. I tried the HBO Max app on the M1. When I click on the full screen button, it puts the app in full screen, but the video is shown with black bars around it. When I play the same movie in Safari, the full screen button plays the video in actual full screen without the black bars. Why would anyone prefer using this app over Safari?
I downloaded the Volvo car manual app. The app runs in a fixed size. I can make it landscape, portrait or full screen, but cannot resize the window as you would a real Mac app. I guess this matches what is possible on an iPad, but makes it frustrating to use on a Mac. I think Apple really needs to rethink the way iOS apps work on the Mac.
I’ve loved using my iPad over the years, but with the new M1 MacBooks it will be hard to go back to using it for anything besides reading Books and PDFs. The multitasking of the iPad is just too limited. Even though I have used it every day for years, I still mess up the dragging of an app from the Dock. The Mac is just easier to use for power users. And of course the entire world of development tools (Xcode, Python, etc, etc) is just not possible on the iPad.