Picking up from my earlier post Buying a new Mac that has evolved into my initial experiences of living with the Apple Silicon MacBook Pro, this new post is dedicated to it with some new new additions. For anyone outside of the UK, the ‘M1’ was the first motorway built in Britain and last week was the scene of a £5 million theft of Apple equipment from a lorry travelling on it, as well as the name of the first Apple Silicon chip.
I’ve now been using the M1 MacBook Pro as my primary computer since Monday, having set it up manually, with everything being installed as new and no Time Machine restore involved. It has been a surprisingly good experience with some desperately annoying minor issues.
Below I’ll outline with the problems, the good things and the impact of running FileMaker on the M1 Mac and Big Sur.
First the problems:
My trusty Sophos Anti-Virus software is not yet compatible, hence I’m running without AV software for the first time that I can remember. A new version is being worked on.
The same for running Windows, or any form of virtualisation. Again, a new version of Parallels (demonstrated at this year’s WWDC) and presumably others are on the way. Currently I’m having to revert to our pool HP Elitebook 840 for any old FileMaker work.
Using an external display, is proving to be the most disruptive part to my day-to-day work. I made the error of changing 2 things at the same time, replacing a 27” display with a new Samsung 34” widescreen display for the new MacBook, hence I need to do some backward testing. The display is connected via HDMI to a USB-C Anker hub.
Whenever the displays go to sleep/dim for a (as yet unidentifiable) period of time, all of the Display settings are lost. System Preferences and Display settings have to be opened, the arrangement, the primary display, the resolutions all have to be reset. I’ve been using the widescreen at 2560 x 1080, rather than the highest 3440 x 1440, but after the aforementioned occurrence, often the highest resolution has disappeared from the ‘Scaled’ list of resolutions available.
For some reason Apple have removed the ‘Assign to’ option available when holding down the mouse button/trackpad on an app icon in the dock. This allowed a specific app to be set to operate on the chosen screen. Today, I restarted one of our streaming servers, as I thought FileMaker Pro 19 kept freezing on startup, but in reality the windows were open on the widescreen display and a very small dialogue box was 3 feet to the right on the MacBook screen, which I’d missed. A small issue, but it is having a massive affect on my productivity. There is a Window -> Move to.. display menu option, but this is a window by window feature, not an application feature. All of the above have been included in a feedback form to Apple.
Only 1 external display can be connected to the MacBook without 3rd party workarounds, but thankfully Sidecar does allow an iPad to become the 3rd screen if needed, which was a bonus.
The (non-hiding) Dock jumps between displays as it has on previous OS versions.
As now being published online, there are bluetooth issues. My Apple Magic Keyboard has been fine, but the Magic 2 mouse constantly disconnects and reconnects. I’ve reset the bluetooth module and ensured no other device is still paired to the mouse, but have not been able to resolve this.
The other, in my view, unforgivable missing feature is the inability to delay Calendar reminders. The only option available at the moment is ‘snooze’ so I’ve had to abandon use of any alert in Calendar and make more use of Reminders, which retains the 4 remind me later options we were used to in Catalina.
A personal frustration, which I’ve finally notified Apple about, is that we can still not use a HomePod for audio input. It’s brilliant for conference calls for the iPhone or iPad, but we cannot use it for screen share or video/audio sessions from the Mac.
Now the good bits:
Ignoring FileMaker for now (see below), everything I’ve tried to use has worked, and worked well. Rosetta 2 prompts to be installed the first time it is needed and installs in an instant.
Apps optimised for Apple Silicon open instantaneously, Safari, Calendar, Pixelmator Pro for instance appear in the blink of an eye. The Rosetta apps open in about the same time as my 2019 MacBook Air this MacBook Pro will eventually replace (I believe it already has!).
Everything feels quick and snappy and I’ve pretty much forgotten that I’m working on a device bought for testing purposes. For the record, apps used include the Apple default apps, Chrome, Microsoft Edge (I really like this), MS Office apps, Skype, WhatsApp, Pixelmator Pro, Graphic, MS Remote Desktop, Jump Desktop (we’ve had no RDP problems at all with either), Mindmanager, Omnigraffle, FMPerception, BBEdit, Visual Studio Code, Transmit, iMazing, FileMaker Pro (see below).
As far as Big Sur is concerned, we like the new menu bar apps in the top right corner, the date and time, clicked for notifications in the far right, the new IOSish control centre, the one click connect/disconnect for wifi, bluetooth and sound and the battery charge display for devices paired.
FileMaker Pro 19 - we’ve had absolutely no problems with this, even when running a mixture of new and old extensions .
FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced - initially we had a crashing problem, that was resolved by removing Dacons MailIt. Interestingly running new or old versions (see FMPA 17 below) of the extension caused the crash. But is has been running fine without, although we tend to use this for reference rather than development. I’ve been in touch with Dacons, who identified a problem writing to a log file, but I haven’t had time to follow this up with them as yet.
FileMaker Pro 17 Advanced - it ran with extensions without any apparent problems but reliably crashes when entering layout mode, which I’m informed is a Big Sur issue rather than an M1 issue (thanks Patrick).
No older versions tested, but we’ve accepted that, until we get some form of virtualisation, we will need to upload any old systems to our Internet based Windows servers or lug our HP laptop around with us.
Finally FileMaker Go. I’ve decided to put this in another post due to the interest it is likely to generate and not bury it here at the end of this lengthy entry.
I hope the above is of interest and apologies to those that have read the earlier post for the repetitions.