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Those Arm-based Macs slay Intel, and more tech news today

What Apple is achieving with even its low-power CPUs is phenomenal, Chromebooks with AMD chips, plus more tech news today!

Published onNovember 18, 2020

apple m1 processor

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Wednesday, 18 November 2020

1. Apple M1 Mac reviews: Wow

apple m1 processor

Apple’s new M1 Macs are out today, and have been put through initial tests and reviews. And they are monsters. There’s so much excitement in the tech world for what we’re seeing. Just as Yossarian might, you just have to let out a respectful whistle to what Apple has achieved here.

M1 Macs:

  • It’s not just that performance is exceeding expectations in the new M1 Macs; what’s we’re seeing is a leap forward.
  • The M1 SoC is powerful in meaningful ways, making even passively-cooled 13-inch devices like the MacBook Air as sharp and snappy as much-higher (and much more expensive) laptops.
  • But in cranking out that performance, they have much better efficiency, providing great leaps in battery life.

What to read:

  • Om Malik has a deep dive on the M1 and how it may transform our lives. It’s great, and includes interviews with Apple’s Greg “Joz” Joswiak, Johny Srouji, and Craig Federighi, and offering perspective on how the computing experience is changing, with quotes like: “The M1 chip can’t be viewed in isolation. It is a silicon-level manifestation of what is happening across computing, especially in the software layer … The desktop environments are the last dominion to fall.”
  • And: “…all of this means that you will see your system as soon as you start to flip open the screen. Your computer won’t burn your lap when doing zoom calls. And the battery doesn’t run out in the middle of a call… It’s amazing what goes into making these small-seeming changes that, without many of us even realizing it, will transform our lives..”
  • On the more technical side, Anandtech has released its first take of the M1-based Mac Mini. Although not able to open it up in a short period before dropping the piece, the detail and benchmarks show that the M1 SoC has the kind of incredible leaps that you just don’t get in the year-to-year improvements when powered by Intel and AMD.
  • There’s a lot there but the M1 in the Mac Mini has less constraints than the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro and is still a low-power device drawing 20-24W. But, it performs at a level of CPU with twice the thermal loads. That makes it quite ridiculous. Quote: “The M1 undisputedly outperforms the core performance of everything Intel has to offer, and battles it with AMD’s new Zen3, winning some, losing some.” (Again, the point is these are low-power chips, with superb battery life, and only AMD’s best and newest Zen3 competes, consuming far, far more power.)
  • The Verge has useful reviews, not getting into the depths of benchmarks and numbers, more what it means for your computing. Review: Dieter Bohn with the MacBook Air.
  • Wired: “Spend a day with the new MacBook Air and the improvements are immediately noticeable. … The M1 is no Mac evolution, it’s a Mac revolution.”
  • TechCrunch: “I personally tested the 13” M1 MacBook Pro and after extensive testing, it’s clear that this machine eclipses some of the most powerful Mac portables ever made in performance while simultaneously delivering 2x-3x the battery life at a minimum.”
  • Something that will help, too: Google is launching a native version of Chrome for Apple’s Arm Macs on Wednesday (The Verge).

What’s not good? 

  • The M1 is the thing that matters. But it’s sort of funny that the new Macs have some of the tired old problems still: a terrible 720p webcam still, iOS and iPadOS apps are mostly trash, the 13-inch MacBook Pro still has a TouchBar that is useless.
  • Also, the lack of external GPU support is limiting for some use cases.
  • Apple is completely nailing the most difficult parts: SoC hardware, software integrations, emulation, and so on. And then sticks a webcam that has been inferior to an iPhone camera as far back as 2014. Strange.

What now? What next?

  • Should you buy a new M1 Mac? If you need a 13-inch MacBook the main reason not to buy the Intel option is not all apps are supported on Apple Silicon. Yet. Battery life improvements are major, though.
  • The Intel vs M1 Mac Mini battle is closer. The Intel option has more features like external GPU support, and more ports, and upgradeable RAM.
  • For larger size Macs, the suggestion will be to wait until Apple Silicon models emerge.
  • The larger 16-inch MacBook Pros and desktop Macs (iMac/Mac Pro) will both presumably be equipped with higher-power Apple Silicon – maybe an M1X? Two M1 chips? – sometime in 2021?
  • For Intel? Soul-searching. Will Intel and AMD, or even Samsung consider Arm-based chips? Will Qualcomm be Apple’s only competitor?

News just in: Apple has announced an iOS App Store small business program: Apple will only take 15 percent, down from 30, for small businesses “earning up to $1 million per year”. Maybe the likes of Hey, and Epic’s forceful lawsuit, really did shake Apple’s tree. More on what that means tomorrow.

2. OPPO Find X3 will launch in 2021 with novel color accuracy tech, true 10-bit color (Android Authority).

3. What’s next for smartphone screens? More on OPPO’s rollable smartphone tech (Android Authority).

4. Leak: Google’s next Chromebook will apparently sport AMD chips. (Shame it’s not Apple silicon??) (Android Authority).

5. OnePlus is set to adopt 7 crowdsourced feature ideas in its smartphones, including ‘separate volume for each app and allow dual media playback,’ and ‘Lockscreen customization’ (Android Authority).

6. Google Fit’s much-needed update includes new sleep tracking details and more (Android Authority).

7. Google says Chrome 87 has the biggest performance boost in years. Loads of improvements promised, including better battery life for phones and laptops using the browser (Engadget)

8. 🕊️ Fleets: Twitter launches disappearing tweets tool worldwide after testing in Brazil and India. These tweets last 24 hours (Reuters).

9. Apple’s MagSafe Duo is somehow less powerful than the regular MagSafe charger. Man, this $129 product is not a good product (The Verge).

10. FBI hires 140 robots to physically retrieve sensitive information — up and running by 2022 (ZDNet).

11. Yet again, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey faced a Senate grilling over moderation practices (CNN).

12. Microsoft expects Xbox Series X shortages until April 2021 (IGN).

13. Potential signs of life on Venus are fading as astronomers downgrade their original claims (it’s never aliens) (Science)

14. “Why do the two COVID-19 vaccine candidates require different storage conditions?” Absolutely fascinating. (r/askscience).

The DGiT Daily delivers a daily email that keeps you ahead of the curve for all tech news, opinions, and links to what’s going down in the planet’s most important field. You get all the context and insight you need, and all with a touch of fun. Plus! Rotating daily fun for each day of the week, like Wednesday Weirdness. Join in!

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