Yesterday during their WWDC keynote event, Apple unveiled the updated M2 Apple Silicon chip. While the M2 might not be quite as revolutionary of an upgrade as the M1 was over previous Intel chips, it’s still a very solid year-over-year improvement which continues to boost Apple ahead of the competition.
Debuting with the M2 inside are the all-new MacBook Air and the upgraded 13” MacBook Pro. While the MacBook Pro has very few changes other than the new processor, the MacBook Air sports a completely new industrial design. Let’s take a look at Apple’s latest entires into the Mac lineup.
For these reasons, as you can imagine, when Apple got in touch with me last November asking if I wanted to try out one of the new MacBook Pros with the M1 Max chip, I welcomed their suggestion with a mix of surprise, trepidation, and, frankly, genuine curiosity. What could I, a longtime iPad user, even contribute to the discourse surrounding the comeback of the Mac lineup, the performance of Apple silicon, and the reality of modern Mac apps?
But I was intrigued by the proposal regardless, and I said yes. I was very skeptical of this experiment – and I told Apple as much – but there were a few factors that influenced my decision.
First and foremost, as many of you have probably noticed, I’ve grown increasingly concerned with the lack of pro software (both apps and OS features) in the iPad Pro lineup. As I wrote in my review last year, iPadOS 15 was, by and large, a quality-of-life update that made iPadOS more approchable without breaking any new ground for existing pro users of the platform. As much as I love the iPad, at some point I have to face its current reality: if Apple thinks iPadOS isn’t a good fit for the kind of functionalities people like me need, that’s fine, but perhaps it’s time to try something else. If my requirements are no longer aligned with Apple’s priorities for iPadOS, I can switch to a different computer. That’s why I believe 2022 – and the upcoming WWDC – will be a make-or-break year for iPad software. And I don’t think I’m the only iPad user who has felt this way.
Second, the arrival of Shortcuts on macOS Monterey gave me an opportunity to expand and rethink another major area of coverage for MacStories, which is automation. Along with iPad and iOS, I consider Shortcuts the third “pillar” of what I do at MacStories: with the Shortcuts Archive, Shortcuts Corner and Automation Academy on Club MacStories, and Automation April, I’m invested in the Shortcuts ecosystem and I know that our readers depend on us to push the boundaries of what’s possible with it. With Shortcuts on macOS, I felt a responsibility to start optimizing my shortcuts for Mac users. That meant learning the details of the Shortcuts app for Mac and, as a result, use macOS more. From that perspective, Apple’s review unit couldn’t have come at a better time.
Third, and perhaps most important to me and least helpful for you all, is one of my greatest fears: becoming irrelevant in what I do. As a writer, I guess I shouldn’t say this; I should say that I write for me, and that I would write regardless, even if nobody read my stuff. But as a business owner and someone who’s gotten used to having a medium-sized audience, that would be a lie. I love the fact that I can write for my readers and get feedback in return. I love that I can write something that is wrong and be corrected by someone. I don’t want to lose that. Do you know what’s a really easy way to make it happen? Grow into someone who’s stuck in their ways, only writes about a certain topic, and doesn’t think anything else is worth trying or even remotely considering. In my case, I don’t want to look back at MacStories in 10 years and regret I didn’t at least try macOS again because I was “the iPad guy” and I was “supposed to” only write about a specific topic. I make the rules. And the rule is that curiosity is my fuel and I was curious to use macOS again.
So that’s my context. For the past six months, I’ve been using my MacBook Pro instead of the iPad Pro to get my work done on a daily basis. I’ve kept using the iPad Pro to test my shortcuts, read articles, and write in places where I didn’t have enough room for a MacBook, but, by and large, I’ve lived the macOS lifestyle for half a year by now.
As we head into WWDC, here’s my story on how this experiment went.
Pro photographer Austin Mann has been testing a new MacBook Pro M1 Max with 64GB RAM and an 8TB SSD in Arizona. As always, his review includes beautiful images that required substantial computer power to create. After running the highest-end version of the MacBook Pro through its paces, Mann came away impressed by the laptop’s fast charging and power efficiency, as well as its overall performance:
In summary, the most impressive performance from the new MacBook Pro M1 Max wasn’t just speed (it was about twice as fast), but it was insanely efficient in how it managed both its power and heat, which matters as much or more than pure speed.
Mann’s review does an excellent job capturing how the new MacBook Pros work as a package. It’s not just that they are power efficient or fast, but the combination of multiple advances that has enabled such a substantial leap forward over previous models.
Yesterday, Apple covered a lot of ground quickly, and as usual, more details have emerged in the aftermath of the event. We’ve been combing apple.com, Twitter, and other sources to learn more about the new MacBook Pros, AirPods 3 and more, which we’ve collected below:
Originally an exclusive Pro Display XDR accessory, now you too can own an Apple Polishing Cloth suitable for all of your Apple device screens for just $19. Coming soon, ‘Apple Polishing Cloth: The MacStories Review’
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.
Last week, Apple unveiled M1-based models of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. With deliveries of the computers beginning to arrive around the world, reviews are out, and I’ve rounded up some of the most interesting tidbits from them.
The reviews are overwhelmingly positive with a few caveats. However, reviewers were universally impressed by the new Macs’ performance and the laptops’ battery life. The experience of Wired’s Julian Chokkattu was common:
Spend a day with the new MacBook Air and the improvements are immediately noticeable. The thing’s as powerful as many of the higher-end Intel-powered Macs, blowing past the speed limits of the higher-tier MacBook Air from earlier this year. The M1 is no Mac evolution, it’s a Mac revolution.
It’s all too easy to overlook the fact that these are low-end models, given how fast they are. But this is just Apple’s first step in what the company says is a two-year-long transition. The M1 chip, which appears to be a next-generation riff on the A12X processor in that 2018 iPad Pro, has a bunch of limitations that will undoubtedly not exist on future Apple-designed Mac processors: It only supports two Thunderbolt ports and up to 16GB of RAM. It has no support for external GPUs or discrete graphics of any kind. It can drive a maximum of two displays. It is, by every definition, a low-end chip, the slowest and least capable Mac chip Apple will ever make.
Based on my testing, it’s also safe to say that all three M1-based Macs, these low-end systems at the bottom of Apple’s price lists, are among the fastest Macs ever made.
Jason and Myke Hurley also interviewed Apple’s Tim Millet and Tom Boger on Upgrade about the M1 Macs.
Before today’s event, little was known about the Apple silicon Macs that the company promised to release by the end of the year. Today, during an online presentation hosted by CEO Tim Cook from Apple Park, Apple took the wraps off its new M1 chip, which powers the new MacBook Air, 13” MacBook Pro, and Mac mini.
Apple has updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a redesigned keyboard, more storage, and updated processors and RAM. The new model replaces the existing 13-inch MacBook Pro and starts at $1299 like its predecessor and is available in the education market beginning at $1199.
Apple today updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the new Magic Keyboard for the best typing experience ever on a Mac notebook and doubled the storage across all standard configurations, delivering even more value to the most popular MacBook Pro. The new lineup also offers 10th-generation processors for up to 80 percent faster graphics performance1 and makes 16GB of faster 3733MHz memory standard on select configurations. With powerful quad-core processors, the brilliant 13-inch Retina display, Touch Bar and Touch ID, immersive stereo speakers, all-day battery life, and the power of macOS, all in an incredibly portable design, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is available to order today, starting at $1,299, and $1,199 for education.
The new MacBook Pro comes in new CPU configurations and improved graphics capabilities. According to Apple:
The 13-inch MacBook Pro lineup now offers up to 10th-generation quad-core Intel Core processors with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 4.1GHz. Customers who are upgrading from a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a dual-core processor will see up to 2.8 times faster performance. The integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics deliver up to 80 percent faster performance over the previous generation 13-inch MacBook Pro for 4K video editing, faster rendering, and smoother gameplay. The new graphics also enable users to connect to Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution.
The MacBook Pros that today’s machines replace had base configurations with a 1.4GHz quad‑core Intel Core i5 and 2.4GHz quad‑core Intel Core i5, both of which supported Turbo Boost and had 128MB of eDRAM.
Like its predecessor, the new MacBook Pro has a 13.3-inch diagonal display that uses IPS technology that supports 2560‑by‑1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch. The display also supports P3 wide color, Apple True Tone technology, and 500 nits of brightness.
The new model follows in the footsteps of the 16-inch model with a new keyboard too. In addition to using a scissor mechanism like its 16-inch sibling, the new 13-inch model also includes an inverted-T arrow key layout and a physical Escape key.
Storage has been doubled across all configurations, starting at 256GB and offering up to a 4TB SSD. RAM is faster too. Some base-models of the updated laptop start at 16GB of 3733MHz memory, which can be upgraded to as much as 32GB.
As for ports, the new MacBook Pro hasn’t changed. The computer has two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports that also support USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 depending on which model you buy, plus a headphone jack. The speakers and microphone array appear to have been upgraded to something similar to the 16-inch model too.
Also, weight and battery life remain nearly identical. The new MacBook Pro weighs a slightly heavier 3.1 pounds compared to the model it replaces which was 3.01 pounds. Regarding the battery, Apple says users can expect similar performance compared to the models that the new laptops replace.
It’s nice to see the 13-inch MacBook Pro updated in line with what we saw when the larger model was updated last November. The keyboard update is especially welcome. I’ve been using a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro and the keyboard has been a constant source of frustration. With this update, I expect Apple’s most portable pro laptop to serve users that need its power well.
To mark the release of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, Roger Cheng of CNET interviewed Apple’s Phil Schiller. The interview begins with a discussion of the laptop’s new keyboard but covers the role of the iPad Pro in Apple’s hardware lineup as well as Macs in education too.
According to Schiller, Apple spent a lot of time talking to pro users in the wake of criticisms of the MacBook Pro’s butterfly keyboard and was told that pro users wanted something like the Magic Keyboard available for desktop Macs. Of that process Schiller told CNET:
There’s a bunch of learning that happened. Some because of moving the desktop keyboard to the notebook and some because we just learned more along the way and wanted to further advance the technology.
Conspicuously absent from the interview though is any mention of changing the keyboard in response to the hardware failures that many users reported.
Cheng also asked Schiller where the iPad Pro fits in Apple’s pro lineup and whether there are plans to merge it with the Mac lineup. As Apple executives have told CNET for years, Schiller was clear that the compromises that a hybrid touch-based Mac would require wouldn’t benefit either platform. Specifically with respect to the iPad Pro, Schiller said:
It was literally to create a different product category. A couple years ago, we split off and created the iPad Pro. This has been a wonderful thing because it allowed us to create two models where we can push the technology. It really accelerated the use cases for iPad.
So now there are a lot of cases where people will use iPad, especially with Pencil, as an artist-creation tool or as a field-compute tool. What we find is there’s a fair number of people who actually spend more of their compute time on their iPad than personal computer. They didn’t choose one or the other. That’s just where they spent a lot of their time.
It’s refreshing to hear Schiller push back on the notion that Macs and iPads will inevitably merge or that consumers need to choose between the two. As someone who uses a Mac and an iPad Pro, I know that’s nonsense, but I also understand that a ‘winner-takes-all’ narrative is more entertaining.
The interview closes with a short discussion of the Mac in the education market where it has struggled at times against Chromebooks. As a parent who’s seen two of my kids learn to code on a Mac while a cheap, locked-down Chromebook sits idle in my house, except when it’s used to turn in assignments and take tests, this from Schiller resonated with me as true:
Kids who are really into learning and want to learn will have better success. It’s not hard to understand why kids aren’t engaged in a classroom without applying technology in a way that inspires them. You need to have these cutting-edge learning tools to help kids really achieve their best results.
Yet Chromebooks don’t do that. Chromebooks have gotten to the classroom because, frankly, they’re cheap testing tools for required testing. If all you want to do is test kids, well, maybe a cheap notebook will do that. But they’re not going to succeed.
Don’t miss Roger Cheng’s full interview on CNET with Schiller. It’s one of the best articulations of Apple’s pro hardware perspective and the place of the iPad in the company’s hardware lineup that I’ve read in a long while.