Apple in 2022: The Six Colors Report Card

Originally published at: Apple in 2022: The Six Colors Report Card - TidBITS

Jason Snell of Six Colors has released his eighth annual Apple report card, featuring ratings and quotes from a select group of Apple commentators, including many from TidBITS.

They were a bit harsh on the Mac considering the same crowd saw no change in SW quality (3.4 out of 5? really?). But I guess the Mac was doing so well (2020 and '21 were both great years) it’s hard to stay at that level for long. The new mini is awesome. But Mac Pro missing its deadline and the lack of a serious iMac are indeed reasons for concern.

I was glad to see many reviewers point out that the iPhone is getting unnecessarily dragged down by the lack of a 14 mini. With lackluster sales being reported for the non-Pro 14, perhaps Apple will eventually come to its senses. The whole Pro vs. non-Pro nonsense and now new rumors about an “Ultra” don’t make it easy to remain bullish about iPhone.

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The report card was for 2022, so the new Mini (and 14" and 16" M2 MBP) weren’t considered.

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I agree. That was kind of the point I was trying to make, apparently just poorly worded.

They had only 2022 to go on, which besides the great M2 MBA and nice (but pricey) Mac Studio consisted of Mac Pro no-show at the self-declared deadline and iMac relegated to low end. Compared to the great 2021 and 2020, that could be grounds to grade Mac a bit lower. Especially considering the bad news came later, i.e. closer to the survey.

If the rest of 2023 plays out for the Mac as well as the new Mac mini line-up, next year should see Mac grading higher again.

For me, Apple (Mac) software quality has definitely gone DOWN. The Music.app at this point produces several anomalies each day (either the sound stops playing and I have to toggle the speakers off and on again) or the music stops playing (I advance to the next track, sometimes then having to toggle speakers. Once the music starts, I then go back to the previous track.) And the app crashes about once every week, rarely producing a user crash report.

Calendar.app continues to be a hot mess with shared calendars. The latest is spam invitations appearing, I have -no idea- how those are getting onto my machine.

At least Mail.app fixed some of the problems it had in Ventura, although I have not tried loading back my full email archive. But the idea that I can’t create a mailing list without having each member on that list in my Address Book is just broken. That’s something standalone mail user agents have had for decades.

Then there’s the systemic issue between iOS and Mac OS that requires me to enter my password each time I plug the phone into the Mac to work around some apparent security problem with backing up the phone. Not only that, but on the Mac side it pops up a “stand in front” window with a modal dialog, jumping in the way of whatever I was doing on the Mac after I plugged in my phone.

I did have a kernel panic level crash on my M1 Pro 16" a couple days ago. I didn’t dig into the crash reports to figure out what caused it.

Now I’ve been told “submit bug reports, Apple does read them.” But preparing a good bug report takes time, and I have low confidence in the assertion “Apple reads them.” If Apple wants me to take the time to send in bug reports, it owes me some minimal level of response. (When I was working with professional development tools, the expectation from submitting a bug report was (a) acknowledgment; (b) indication they could reproduce the problem, plus any suggested work-arounds; (c) indication they were taking action, i.e. a ‘internal bug number’; (d) reconciliation of open ‘internal bug numbers’ with releases, showing which internal bug reports were being closed and which remained. And in user group meetings, we’d often raise “This bug hasn’t been fixed and it’s a real issue for us.”)

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I only read the comments pertaining to Macs and iPhones.
Here are my comments about their comments.

This is the first Mac in a very long time that has me excited. If I can get a Mac Studio to perform as well and as long as my MacPro 2010 I will be happy. Very happy.

We are using an SE3 and SE in this household. They are more than enough phone for our simple needs. Don’t make me look elsewhere for my next [small] phone.

Presumably, Apple didn’t bother with a 14 mini because the 13 mini didn’t sell particularly well, and that seems to match what I’ve seen out in the wild—a lot of regular iPhones, but rarely a mini. Moreover, a common observation is that the 14 non-pro is basically a warmed over 13. You can still buy an iPhone 13 mini, so what’s the big deal about the lack of a 14 mini? Perhaps Apple see the mini as a niche market and thinks it’s not be worth releasing a new model every year.

A response or acknowledgement would be nice, but it would be even better if Apple actually fixed the bug.

There was a TidBITs article awhile back about why longstanding bugs never seemed to get fixed (“It’s not a regression!”) and how to generate a good bug report. When I read it, I have to admit I rolled my eyes. There are well paid engineers at Apple whose job should include identifying and fixing bugs. It’s ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned, to expect users to spend hours or days essentially doing the engineers’ jobs for them on a volunteer basis. And then to have Apple read the bug reports and then effectively ignore them just adds insult to injury.

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Just a couple days ago I was looking through an old box of electronic stuff and found a weird plastic bit smaller than a 3x5 index card. It took me a moment to realize it was a clear case for an ancient tiny iPhone! It looked so small, like a child’s toy. I kept it as a souvenir. :joy:

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An acknowledgement shows the user effort has been recognized. But without bug report reconciliation, the only way you have to know if a bug is fixed is to (blindly) load the new release and try it.

If I knew the problems Ventura had with both Mail.app (as we discussed when that first came out) and Music.app, I would -not- have loaded it. At least some of the Mail.app bugs are fixed in 13.2, but Music is still broken.

p.s. I have an old iPhone 5 sitting under my desk, if anyone wants it.

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As it turns out, the 14 Plus that took the Mini’s place in the lineup also not seems to sell well. Maybe Apple will decide to go back to the Mini again? (Well, actually the rumor is that there will be a super-pro Ultra phone.)

What I would have loved myself is a Mini Pro, with the extra camera, more responsive display, and more GPU cores than the standard, and would have put up with the worse battery life that came with it. I do wonder if the smaller form-factor would have sold well with more pro features.

It’s a big deal because nobody is assuming they’re skipping just the 14 mini. The consensus is there will be no 15 mini either. In other words, come Sep you will only have large form factors to choose from.

If the argument is no mini because it doesn’t sell, then we should be anticipating saying goodbye to the Plus soon.

macOS has never worked as well as it has for me now. I give the hardware is 8/10, and the software a 7/10. Services, I’d say is 7–8/10, as I can avoid the services that aren’t that good.

I’m a firm believer that Apple needs to pause their OS releases and concentrate on significantly improving their current system. Ventura is very buggy and it’s been a constant source of small, niggly problems which really shouldn’t be there.

In their defence, I find it hard to wrap my head around the complexity of the systems they are now running and the responsibilities they have in (securely) managing the data of hundreds of millions of users and billions of devices. It’s actually quite staggering.

I think OSX peaked with Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion - both excellent, stable releases.

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Howard Oakley agrees with you.