The 2021 iPad Pro is Almost Faster Than The Gaming Computer I Just Built

Geekbench benchmarks might not be a perfect measurement, but it’s an incredible result

Earlier this year I managed to find elusive computer components and build a Ryzen 5600x-based computer to upgrade from the one I built back in 2016. Reviews are just now coming out for the new 2021 iPad Pro and the M1 system inside of it is benchmarking higher in Geekbench than my desktop gaming computer.

The results reported in the MacStories review for the M1-powered 2021 iPad Pro by Federico Viticci (a fantastic review you should read just to hear from what an iPad Pro power user thinks of this upgrade) are 1716 single-core, 7143 multi-core, and results are similar across all the M1-powered Apple computers. This was also for a model with 16GB of RAM, the 1 and 2TB storage configuration options for the new iPad Pro both have 16GB of RAM. iPad Pros with less storage have 8GB of RAM.

My desktop with an AMD Ryzen 5600x and 32GB of DDR4 3600 RAM gets 1609 single-core, 7557 multi-core. Both numbers fluctuate a bit for each run, but the higher single-core score and comparable multi-core score is very impressive and absolutely wild for a battery-powered and passively-cooled mobile tablet device versus a desktop system that’s plugged into the wall and has active cooling. It also makes me very curious what the sequel to the M1 will look like, and what Apple will do with updates to iPadOS now that it has access to so much more power. I’m hoping for Xcode.

Siri & Shortcuts in iOS 12

Easily the most impressive feature of iOS 12 is the integration of Workflow into the operating system as the recently-rebranded Siri Shortcuts. Apple’s on-stage demos of Siri Shortcuts have consisted of people explaining a half-dozen different actions these shortcuts perform, as funneled through one simple command. However, Siri shortcuts are also tremendously helpful at drilling down into an application to complete one task without opening that application when it would be inconvenient to do so.

For example, when I’m playing Clash Royale, which has been filling a strategic hole in my heart for some time, I often want to skip Overcast to the next chapter of the podcast I’m listening to. You can only take so many SquareSpace ads.

Before iOS 12, this meant flipping over to Overcast in the multitasking switcher, expanding the current podcast to fill the whole screen, and then tapping the next chapter arrow. Finally, I’d flip back to the game to see that I had lost one or all of my towers and the game was probably over.

In iOS 12, with Overcast 5, you can configure a list of shortcuts within the app to handle practically any function of the app from changing the playback speed to skipping the current chapter. That changes the scenario to one step, “Hey Siri, Overcast next chapter.” Siri isn’t always fast, but she is definitely faster than swapping to Overcast app and attempting to do the same thing.

There is a lot more functionality in Shortcuts that I haven’t even tried yet, and this example was only simplifying one task into one command instead of several tasks, but it feels obvious at this point that these programmable actions can alleviate some of the burden placed on users to adapt to iOS.

My main gripe with the Shortcuts functionality as it exists today, and with Siri in general, is that Siri takes over the whole screen when it isn’t necessary to do so. Many Siri activities that aren’t even shortcuts only necessitate a small confirmation that the requested action took place. The iPhone 6 Plus-sized devices (and especially the XS Max) cry out for a small window of the screen to pop-up a Siri response, then nobody will miss out on their game of Clash Royale just to skip a podcast ad.

Part of the problem that causes Apple to dedicate the entire screen to Siri may be the low confidence we all have in Siri to hear us correctly. Even today I couldn’t get my (Series 1) Apple Watch to understand a simple request for a timer (CW: misogynistic slur in text). The misunderstanding turned the request for a timer into a nasty message that I was surprised to read, then a few tries later it became a request for information about a movie I don’t want to see. Finally, I gave up and set the timer myself. On the iPhone a full-screen Siri response gives you the ability to see and edit the request if it was misunderstood like my 20 minute timer was on the Watch.

Once Apple’s confidence in Siri is higher, we may get that partial-screen response to our requests. I recommend keeping up with Shortcuts via MacStories.