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Posts tagged with "M1"

What Wreckfest Tells Us About the Future of iPhone and iPad Gaming

In November, HandyGames released Wreckfest for iPhones and iPads. The demolition racing game was originally released by Bugbear Entertainment on PC in 2018 and the following year on PS4 and Xbox One. Since then, the game has been brought to current-generation consoles, streaming, and now, mobile platforms.

Although Wreckfest is several years old, it’s one of the more demanding console games brought to mobile recently, which makes it a good test for Apple’s latest SoCs. That’s what MrMacRight did on his YouTube channel, testing the game on everything from an original iPhone SE with an A9 chip to a 12.9” iPad Pro with an M2 chip.

There’s a lot of the sort of technical detail in MrMacRight’s video that I love, along with settings recommendations if you want to get the most out of whatever device you’re using to play the game. To me, though, the most interesting part of the video is the point in the Apple silicon lineup where the game’s performance drops off and how the choices the publisher made to bring Wreckfest to mobile affect the game.

The M1 and M2 SoCs handle Wreckfest well, maintaining an almost steady 60fps throughout. The first dip comes when trying to run the game at 60fps on an iPhone 14 Plus with an A15 SoC that ran into thermal throttling issues. Still, with tweaks to the game’s settings, it remains playable on a wide variety of iPhones and iPads thanks to quality reductions of some graphics assets, which also serve to reduce the size of the game and its memory footprint. Those graphical compromises made by HandyGames are understandable but also a bit disappointing for anyone with an M1, M2, or A16 device, which could handle better graphics and textures.

Wreckfest on mobile compromises on some assets to reduce the size and memory footprint of the game.

Wreckfest on mobile compromises on some assets to reduce the size and memory footprint of the game.

Big picture, MrMacRight’s analysis of Wreckfest suggests that we’re still in the early days when it comes to games that approach console quality coming to the iPhone and iPad. Plus, the sheer size of the gaming market that is still on older A-series SoCs means the sweet spot for game development will likely take a few more years before the performance that is possible on M-series and A16-based devices becomes the norm for most mobile gamers. Whether Apple silicon gets to that point before another solution, like game streaming, takes widespread hold, it will likely be one of the most interesting stories to follow in mobile gaming.

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Dropbox Releases Apple Silicon Version of Its App to Beta Testers

Last fall, Dropbox caused a stir when one of its employees suggested on a company forum that the cloud service’s Mac app wouldn’t be updated for Apple’s M1 architecture until customers demanded it. The response from customers was immediate and vocal, prompting Dropbox CEO Drew Houston to publicly state that an M1 version of the app would be released in 2022.

The existing Dropbox app uses Apple’s Rosetta translation layer, which is fast but can’t match a native Apple silicon app. The app also uses more power and other system resources than a native version would, and for an app that constantly runs in the background, that was a constant source of irritation for users.

The first sign of an Apple silicon version of Dropbox emerged late yesterday. As reported by 9to5Mac, Dropbox released a native M1-based version of its app to beta testers, which can be downloaded here. The new version of the app, which was noticed by a user in the Dropbox forums, was later confirmed by a Dropbox community manager, as reported by The Verge. Dropbox is very late in updating its app to offer native Apple silicon support, especially given that the service is so widely used, but it’s good to see the company following through with last fall’s promise.

Betas that affect important cloud-based files should be approached with caution, but in my limited testing so far, the M1 version of Dropbox makes a noticeable difference in the app’s resource usage. Before installing the beta, I took a look at its memory usage, which stood at just above 4 GB, a substantial portion of the 16 GB available on my MacBook Air. Immediately after installing the Dropbox beta, memory usage dropped to a much more reasonable 645 MB. That’s a substantial improvement, which coupled with lower power usage and improved speed, should greatly improve the experience of using the cloud service, especially on Apple laptops.


Apple Unveils the New 14 and 16-Inch MacBook Pros Powered by the M1 Pro and M1 Max Systems-on-a-Chip

As expected, Apple released new MacBook Pros today featuring all-new Apple silicon systems-on-a-chip (SoCs). Let’s start with the chips that drive the new 14 and 16” MacBook Pros.

Apple introduced two new SoCs, the M1 Pro and the M1 Max. Both MacBook Pro models can be configured with either SoC, which take the M1 architecture and scale it up for pro-level performance. Today’s presentation emphasized a long list of metrics in several key areas, including the speed, bandwidth, and capacity of its unified memory and both SoC’s efficiency and performance per watt.

The M1 Pro has up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth and can drive up to 32GB of unified memory. The Max doubles that with up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth and up to 64GB of unified memory.

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M1 iMac Review Roundup

The new M1 iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV 4K will begin arriving on customers’ doorsteps and be available in Apple Stores this Friday. However, today, embargoes have lifted for just the iMac.

Here’s what reviewers are saying about Apple’s colorful new desktop Mac:

Jason Snell writing for Six Colors thinks Apple made the right choice by going with subdued colors on the front of the iMac:

But when you sit down to work at the iMac, you get a different impression. The bright color is there, visible on the stand. Above that is a more muted version of the accent color on the “chin” beneath the display. The bezels around the display itself are a neutral gray. It’s effectively a gradient, with your peripheral vision noticing the bright color, but that accent fading away until you’re left with whatever is on the display itself. It works really well, though I imagine that if you’re someone who prefers using Dark Mode in brightly lit rooms, it will be a pretty dramatic contrast. (I’m a Light Mode person myself, and I found the overall effect quite harmonious. But then, my office wall is orange.)

Jason and Myke Hurley recorded a special episode of their podcast Upgrade, which is out today too.

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The M1 Mac mini and MacBook Air: A Giant Leap Forward for All Mac Users

It’s been just over two months since the first M1 Macs were delivered to customers. I purchased an M1 MacBook Air to replace my aging 2016 MacBook Pro, and not long after, Apple sent me an M1 Mac mini to try. In the ten weeks or so since then, I’ve used both almost exclusively for a wide variety of tasks, and although both computers are somewhat limited by their lack of ports, that has been less of an issue than I anticipated. What’s been far more notable, remarkable in fact, is the performance of the new MacBook Air and Mac mini.

Benchmarks don’t do these Macs justice. There are plenty of CPU-intensive tasks that are faster than before, which I expected would be the case. However, living with both of these Macs for as long as I have has given me a much greater appreciation for the impact that the M1 has on ordinary, day-to-day tasks. The differences are less pronounced for individual tasks that require less computing power, but the aggregate impact has still been significant for both computers, especially the MacBook Air.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

Performance increases quickly become the ‘new normal.’ They tend to fade into the background. What starts as startling soon becomes ordinary and expected. The M1 Macs are no different in this respect and perhaps even more so because they look like the machines that came before them.

Still, if you step back and consider these new Macs in the context of those that immediately preceded them and account for the fact that these are entry-level models, the future of the Mac is bright. The M1 update makes these Macs substantially better deals than the versions they replace with computing power to spare for most users. The new machines also bode well for the remainder of the Mac lineup that hasn’t been updated yet.

I’m excited to see what the M1 means for the rest of the product line, and I’m sure I’ll be tempted to try them, but I’ve also never been more content with new Macs than these. I’m sure there are things I do that future M1 Macs will do even faster, but the M1 MacBook Air and Mac mini have introduced a fluidity in my daily computing that I haven’t experienced since I first tried the iPad Pro. It’s the sort of subtle, qualitative shift that can’t be captured by benchmarks but has rekindled my fondness for the platform by improving the experience across the board. Here’s what I mean.

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The Independent Interviews Federighi, Joz, and Ternus on M1 Macs

Following Apple’s special event this Tuesday, The Independent scored an interview with Craig Federighi, Greg Joswiak, and John Ternus. The Apple execs provided some fascinating insight into their new M1 chips, including that the speed and battery life of the M1 Macs were far greater than even Apple had imagined they would be before the project began.

Federighi discusses the differences between the new MacBook Air and Pro as well. The Independent’s Andrew Griffin writes:

The M1 arrives at first in three different products: the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini. The latter occupies its own place in the line-up, but given that the Air and Pro now have the exact same chip, how can they stay distinct?

“Thermal capacity,” says Federighi decisively. The Pro has a fan – Apple calls it an “active cooling system” – while the Air doesn’t, and the rest of the performance flows from there.

Federighi starts sketching out a graph that will be familiar to anyone who watched the event. The thing that is really holding these chips back is heat: as you give them more cooling to play with, they become even faster. The MacBook has some other things, too – such as even more battery – but it’s that extra headroom that really allows them to roar.

The interview also discusses Apple’s chip naming strategies and their decision to not ship new laptop hardware designs alongside the new chips. Federighi even gets a chance to pour cold water on the popular theory that Big Sur is paving the way for touchscreen Macs:

“I gotta tell you when we released Big Sur, and these articles started coming out saying, ‘Oh my God, look, Apple is preparing for touch’. I was thinking like, ‘Whoa, why?’

“We had designed and evolved the look for macOS in a way that felt most comfortable and natural to us, not remotely considering something about touch.

Make sure to check out the whole article over at The Independent.

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iPhone and iPad Apps Are Coming to the Mac App Store

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Apple’s M1-based Macs will start to be delivered to users next week and are capable of running iPhone and iPad apps natively. In an App Store story and developer documentation, Apple has explained how that will work.

iPhone and iPad apps will be available on the Mac App Store by default, although developers can opt out of offering their apps there. A developer might not want to make their iPhone or iPad app available on the Mac App Store for a variety of reasons. For example:

Some apps available on Mac may not function as they normally would on iPhone or iPad. For example, features that rely on hardware unique to iPhone or iPad—such as a gyroscope or a screen that supports complex Multi-Touch gestures—may not work on Mac. In some cases such a feature may be central to the app’s functionality, while in others the app may be usable without it.

Developers who want to offer their iPhone and iPad apps on the Mac App Store don’t have to do anything to make them work on the Mac. However, Apple is asking developers to consider adopting things like keyboard support, multitasking, and Auto-Layout, which will add Mac keyboard and window resizing support, for example.

Apple is also encouraging developers to verify that their iPhone and iPad apps work on the M1 Macs. Apps built for iOS and iPadOS will be labeled as ‘Designed for iPhone’ and ‘Designed for iPad,’ so users can identify them, and if an app hasn’t been verified by its developer yet, it will also be labeled as ‘Not verified for macOS.’

Search results will feature a toggle that separates Mac apps from iPhone and iPad apps. Source: Apple.

Search results will feature a toggle that separates Mac apps from iPhone and iPad apps. Source: Apple.

Apple’s developer documentation notes that iPhone and iPad apps can be found on the Mac App Store,

by browsing curated selections and charts, or by searching and clicking the “iPhone & iPad Apps” toggle at the top of search results.

The toggle strikes me as a good way to handle search results to help ensure that users understand which version of an app they are downloading. Also, developers who offer their iPhone or iPad app on the Mac App Store can later replace it with a macOS version, which will be delivered to users as an update to the app. However, if developers already offer a Mac app as part of a universal purchase, they cannot later offer an iPhone or iPad app instead.

It will be interesting to see how many apps opt out of the Mac App Store. There are many reasons why a developer might not participate, but I expect those that do will verify their apps relatively quickly to provide users with the confidence to try their app on a new M1 Mac.


Apple Unveils New M1 Apple Silicon Chip for Macs

During this morning’s Apple special event stream, SVP of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji unveiled the first Apple silicon chip for Mac. The company teased this chip at WWDC in June, but we’ve had to wait until today for the full details. Chip transitions are never undertaken lightly, so expectations were high for how significant the advantages of Apple silicon would be. Thankfully, the M1 chip does not disappoint.

The M1 ushers in one of the largest single-generation leaps in performance and power efficiency for Apple hardware in recent history. It is a system on a chip (SoC), meaning it has pulled multiple different chip types from prior Macs together into one package. Assembled using a 5-nanometer process, the M1 is packed with 16 billion transistors. The result is a highly power-efficient chip which can deliver impressive performance while maintaining the longest battery life ever for Mac laptops.

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