Neil Macy

The 2020 Mac mini

The new Mac mini with the Apple M1 chip is an incredible machine to use. It’s also finally hit the minimum standard we should expect from computing devices.

It just does what you ask, and is the first traditional computer to do so. This is one of the features that made the iPhone so impressive from the start, back in 2007; it’s immediately responsive to your actions. It feels great, then almost immediately it feels normal, and makes everything else feel slow instead.

For example, apps launch straight away. It shouldn’t be remarkable that the user in the linked video can just keep opening apps without it being an issue, but it is.

I like to edit photos in Lightroom. On the iPad, that’s always been a fairly smooth experience: I adjust a slider, and the image on screen changes as I slide it. On the Mac, that was never the case. I’d always be waiting for the image on screen to catch up with my changes. Until now, because on my Mac mini with the M1 chip, performance is just as snappy as it is on my 2016 iPad Pro.

On the one hand, that feels like a low bar. Seriously, the Mac has finally caught up with an iPad from 2016? I’m comparing it’s responsiveness to the 2007 iPhone?! But on the other hand, it’s a massive change. My top of the line, 16” MacBook Pro from 2020 couldn’t perform like this. One thing that people have always loved about iOS is how smooth it is, how natural it feels to use. You ask it to do something, and it does it. That’s been a problem with PCs for decades. And now it’s not.

This is the baseline now; the minimum standard that we should ask of our computers. It should, to use an overused phrase, just work.

Published on 2 December 2020