Instant-On MacBooks

One of the features I’ve wanted since the inception of the iPhone and iPad is instant on and off for my MacBook Pro. As solid state storage prices continue to plummet year-after-year, and as Apple continues to fine-tune OS X, we seem to be getting much closer to this being a reality.

The current generation MacBook Air is no slouch. It boots in a matter of seconds, and can go to sleep and wake up extremely quickly. There’s still more work to be done, and instant-on is a feature that needs to be across the board with all MacBook products. If Apple were to remove the optical drives from all MacBook Pros, fill that space with higher capacity battery, and move to the same small package SSD drive that the Air uses, this would be my ideal configuration.

On the subject of battery performance, the iPad has thirty days of standby time on a single charge. At some point we’ll get there as well on the MacBook line, however, there are far larger problems to deal with. First of all, on iOS devices, Apple doesn’t use x86 architecture. Macs are powered by Intel processors, and iOS by Apple’s own A5/A5X. Unless Apple eschewed Intel for Arm architecture on Macs, I can’t see huge strides being made by Intel on the mobile chip from as far as power consumption is concerned. Sure, every year Intel manages a die shrink and squeezes in an optimization here and there to improve power consumption, but they aren’t making improvements at the rate we need.

You can’t ignore the software. It’s unequivocal that developers need to work hard to ensure optimal tuning for battery performance on mobile computers. Release after release, Apple has continued to push forward on making sure each new version of OS X is optimized for the latest generation hardware, thus improving battery performance. This isn’t any different with OS X 10.8. Whilst I have yet to try Mountain Lion, I hear some people reporting that the developer previews — coupled with the latest generation MacBook Air — equate to much faster cold boot and sleep/wake performance. This is welcome news, and I can’t wait to see just how much better Apple can do with the imminent release these new MacBooks and Mountain Lion later this summer.