I have continued to praise the MacBook Air with the M1 processor in multiple posts since I got it in November last year. Initially concerned that not having Intel would create some issue with using it for my day job, it has actually become a perfect machine to use for work primarily because of the workaround I found in using Microsoft Remote Desktop instead of running Windows.
Before I explain why I find this MacBook so appealing, I want to touch on using macOS full time again after using iPadOS exclusively for many months. It is funny that when I decided to go back to the Mac, macOS Big Sur was being released, which is very similar in its design to iOS and iPadOS. Not only because of certain features but also the bright and colorful aesthetics throughout.
Apple released an abstract Big Sur wallpaper with very vibrant colors, added transparency in app panes and the menu bar, and replaced many black icons and text with white-colored versions. It all screams iOS to me, and is why I feel it was easy to transition from iPadOS to macOS and didn’t feel like I was missing out.
Other features helped, as the adoption of Control Center, square app icons, new dialog boxes, and other subtle but clearly iOS influence changes, were a big reason why moving to a Mac lacked any FOMO. We will see how things change this year if iPadOS gets another round of enhancements and features — which seems to take place every two years or so.
Being on the Mac again is has been great. I loved the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro (and now for the iPad Air, too), but it is nice to have the new full sized Magic Keyboard on the MacBook Air for typing Medium posts. Some of the keys on the 11-inch version were tiny, and, though having the Magic Keyboard with iPad on my lap worked, it is hard to beat a laptop design on the lap for long periods.
I am sure I would have benefitted from having the 12.9” iPad Pro and its Magic Keyboard. It would have probably been a better comparison to a MacBook Air, comparing the keyboard or lap comfort. But even then, I still find the MacBook Air more superior with the “non-touch bar” function row, much larger trackpad, and better spacing of keys (maybe even a little better key travel too).
You just have more room to work with on a traditional style laptop design, so the keyboard will automatically feel more natural and comfortable. I do miss the floating design, though, and the fact that you could just take the iPad off and use your computer as a tablet is pretty awesome too.
So overall, coming back to the macOS has been pretty great. I have written many articles over the past two months and feel this MacBook Air is a big part of why I am enjoying writing recently. There is a big reason I think this is the case, which plays to the fact that I feel this MacBook Air is my perfect Mac-iPad Combo.
Is the Air a better iPad Pro?
My Anytime Device
So after a couple of months of using this MacBook Air and getting back into macOS from iPadOS, I am starting to see why my want to go back to an iPad Pro is nonexistent. If you have read any of my past posts, I am constantly struggling with what kind of setup I want and have gone back on forth on Macs and iPads as my main machine.
After using my MacBook Air in bed one night, I realized that I love this computer so much because I treat it like I did with the iPad Pro. What I really loved about the iPad Pro was the design, ergonomics, and its ability to be multiple things for me at any moment. The iPad was my writing machine, consumption device, notepad, drawing tablet, or reading device.
The MacBook Air can’t do all of those things as effortless as the iPad Pro. What it can do, though, is allow you to use it as much as you would the iPad Pro since both are fan-less and have excellent battery life.
Instead of using an Apple Pencil to draw or handwrite notes, I would need to type them or use a Wacom tablet along side the Mac. Reading can be done too, just not as nice as it is by being in my hands. This is the same with watching YouTube, TV Shows, or Movies, but since I got my new LQ OLED TV, I prefer that over most devices in my house.
The point I am trying to get at is because I don’t have to worry about airflow or if I have enough battery life, picking up the Air and using it is so similar to how I used the iPad Pro before. Doesn’t matter how long I had it plugged in or if it was plugged in at all; the few hours I want to use it is usually adequate. And, as I mentioned before, I can use it on my lap or on top of my comforter in bed and never have to worry about it overheating.
So Damn Snappy
Like the iPad, every time I open an app or just move around the OS, it always feels fast and smooth. You can argue that I am using the exact same apps as I did on the iPad like Ulysses, Safari, Photos, Affinity Designer, 1Password, Visual Studio Code (or VS Code on iPad), Reminders, Reader 5, and many more.
So the things I do on the Mac should feel the same for the most part since the apps that I use are both available in there, mostly, native form on each platform. I have yet to run into many apps that require me to install the iOS or iPadOS version due to it not having a macOS one available. The only one that I have downloaded, and no longer use, is the Overcast app, which works perfectly fine.
The mere fact that you can download iOS and iPadOS apps onto an M1 machine might make you think that was going to be my main reason I feel the Air is a better iPad Pro; unfortunately, that feature doesn’t benefit me much at all. I try to keep my Mac as minimal as possible with the least amount of apps, so the need for many isn’t something I need.
Either it is an app made for the Mac or one of Apple’s touchscreen devices, it is so satisfying to never see the beach ball when opening or using any of them. The snappiness is also recognized by other smaller things like swiping between desktops, app switching, and even software updates, whether macOS or applications.
A laptop is nothing new. The MacBook Air design and form factor has been around for a few years now, and it shares the same design as similar Apple devices before it, let alone other Windows laptop manufacturers. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t get better or that it is easy to replace.
I can’t stress enough how much I liked the iPad Pro in the Magic Keyboard but having a laptop is familiar and refreshing. Especially one that never gets hot on your lap always has life for you to use it and is not afraid of just being what it is best at a clamshell computer with a keyboard and screen.
Apple took a standard designed laptop, threw a very powerful chip in it (M1), removed unneeded compromises (fan), and took advantage of the size and weight that was already familiar(kept same battery size). Apple inadvertently, in my opinion, created a perfect laptop by doing very little and keeping a lot.
After so many years of shrinking the casing, changing the keyboard while throttling performance to deal with thermal thresholds and size goals, I am glad Apple has come around in letting a laptop be what a laptop is best at. Providing a great scene, magnificent keyboard, excellent battery life, and more performance than any casual user needs.
So to say that I have been happy with the M1 MacBook Air would be an understatement. For years I have been trying to find a machine that works for me and doesn’t require me to work for it. I feel this machine does that for me; it does all the heavy lifting and lets me use it how and when I want to.
I could talk about many other things about this laptop, but as I do in most of my posts, I don’t like to repeat something that I already went over before. Yes, the Retina Screen is fantastic, USB-C ports have been great so far (though they can be limiting; only have two on just one side), and I really still do love the Space Gray aluminum color.
I am looking forward to having this computer for a long time. I am sure Apple’s next version of the iPad Pro or even iMacs will be very enticing. Even if I upgrade or add devices to my setup in the future, I think this M1 will stay around for the long haul.