Macs with the M1 chip of the Apple silicon architecture have been on the market for long enough to draw conclusions about what they represent. From the point of view of hardware and autonomy, with the analysis of our colleagues from Engadget and Applesfera, we understood that we were facing [la primera pata de una revolución](the first leg of a revolution).
But how is the transition going from a software point of view? And not in the sense of whether more or less developers are working on porting their Intel applications to Apple silicon (which is going very well), but to the system stability, lack of bugs, etc.. All this, in the context of another small transition, the one that goes from macOS 10.15 Catalina to macOS 11 Big Sur.
Behind an outstanding M1 lie recent macOS problems
The M1 is a performance-per-watt beast, with efficiency far superior to all of the above. On a day-to-day basis, with a MacBook Air it shows a lot. The hardware experience with the system is almost perfect and the speed indicated by the benchmarks is felt in the day to day. So far everything is fine, and the jump with respect to Intel equipment is felt. But.
The but is that in Intel equipment they could be improved, they could be more powerful, etc, but their problem, except in cases like the Mac Pro 2013, was never power, but the future of macOS in terms of quality. It is not a topic at all recent, neither on desktop nor with iOS on mobile, and For these first months of Big Sur's life on M1, little seems to have changed.
The state of macOS should not be compared to that of Windows 10 per se, but to the experience that Apple promises with its Macs
After a summer with Windows 10, working with macOS now on a new computer is something that is appreciated, particularly for those who as a server are more comfortable with the Apple operating system. But it is difficult not to feel that the state of your software is quite improvable not comparing it with that of Microsoft, which also has its own, but with the experience that Apple promotes, which given its own more integrated and controlled idiosyncrasy, should be a goal to be achieved.
The new macOS 11.0 Big Sur has shown that Apple can make "big" graphic-style transitions much faster than Microsoft and more efficiently, but also that it is just one more system, framed in the maelstrom of updates, in which Apple It doesn't have the temperance right now to release an operating system every two years instead of one. It is a problem because of operating systems that were as good as Mojave it happens in days to others that go badly and take a long time to stabilize, like Catalina.
A transition that still has not arrived for the refinement of the system
Since its launch, macOS Big Sur had a "serious" bug that put one of the CPU cores to 100%. It was on a MacBook Air M1 the computer with which, beyond the beta, the server started in the new operating system. And, on that team, the 'helpd' process was wreaking havoc on Spanish-language teams for months.
In the case of the Mac M1, as the saturated core was one of the high efficiency ones, the consumption of the process only supposed an extra 0.350 watts. However, in the case of computers with Intel, especially in laptops, the low energy efficiency made consumption noticeable enough to have a major effect on battery life.
Fixing it cost two major versions of Big Sur, as the bug was not patched until version 11.2, released on February 1. Almost three months to a bug that was easily seen in Activity Monitor, in a year in which the most important teams of the brand are launched in years and years.
The day to day with Big Sur is not bad, but in today's Apple the software is very far from its hardware, no matter how much it is where it most manages to differentiate itself.
And it is just one example of many. Another is one that we discovered recently, but that is also present in Intel equipment. It turns out that without a known cause, the network configuration can be corrupted in macOS, to the point that next to the router you can get 9 Mbps on the 5 GHz WiFi network, when it should reach 300 Mbps (and when any another tested device was getting full speed. Fixing it is simple, but it's not like turning WiFi on and off, so many users will have poor connections due to ignorance.
In aspects related to the software controlling the hardware, it is also possible to find bugs on a day-to-day basis. The management that macOS Big Sur does on a MacBook Air M1 from a 4K screen from LG is very good, until You come back from sleep and the half screen content is cut off and you have to go to system preferences to adjust the scaling. That, or that in a Mac mini M1, the screen does not return from sleep when pressing the official Apple mouse and keyboard.
In the medium and long term, probably the most worrisome right now is the problem of swapping what the Applesfera colleagues explained, which in a few words what it means is that computers write much more to the SSD than they should, shortening the useful life of these.
It is a hardware problem, but caused by the software that controls it. Without Apple having yet to comment on the matter, some indications suggest that it has to do with using apps that use Rosetta, Apple's translation layer to be able to run x86 applications on Apple silicon.
As for what are not bugs but mere operation, the experience with an 8GB MacBook Air working with Safari and many tabs is worse than doing the same with Edge. Apple's browser consumes less RAM but scratches more when switching between tab and tab, and Microsoft's does it more fluidly, something that is observed directly in the used swap space. Each closing of the tab, after opening, raises the pressure of the memory, going from green to yellow.
Probably the quality of software that Apple has achieved in its past is idealized, and it falls in any past time was better, but that is no excuse for not asking for more from one of the largest companies in the world and in the technological field.