The error that was reported was "SOCD report detected: (AP watchdog expired)". SOC stands for System on Chip, which is what the M1 processor is. SOCs integrate many of the computer's logic board components that used to be in separate chips, including often memory, I/O, etc.
It's not exactly clear what the "D" in SOCD means, but it's a fair assumption given the M1, that the SOC portion means what we think it does. I haven't quite figured out what "AP watchdog" means.
There are a number of discussion board posts by others who have described their similar problems. This post on the Apple Communities forum runs 14 pages, filled with folks detailing their similar experiences.
Some people on the boards reported that the error occurs when an external drive is connected to one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports. But I didn't have a drive connected. I do have a CalDigit TS3 Plus dock installed, providing power to the machine as well as managing my HDMI monitor and hardwired Ethernet connection.
Reading through page after page of discussion board postings revealed a lot of speculation. It's not unique to just MacBook Airs. Folks have experienced this across the M1 line. Most people who are experiencing the problem have something plugged into the Thunderbolt 3 ports. Given that M1 Macs barely ship with any ports, it's likely that most people will utilize Thunderbolt 3 to enable some level of expansion or another. I also have my USB-based SD card reader plugged into that dock.
ZDNet did reach out to Apple for comment, but is it really any surprise that Apple did not deign to provide us with a response? Nah.
As for me, knock on particle board, I haven't had any recurrences of the crash. It happened while running MacOS Big Sur 11.4. I'm now on 11.5.2 and hoping it's smooth sailing.
That said, new reports have been cropping up, even from folks who updated to 11.5. So stay tuned. Hopefully, this problem will disappear in a future update. No doubt we can count on Apple to remain silent, even if they have fixed the problem.
Share below if you've experienced anything similar. And stay tuned. If we get any more news, I'll update this article with whatever I find out.