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Apple in 2021: The Six Colors Report Card

Financially, Apple is more robust than ever. Despite seemingly endless hiccups in the supply chain, Apple continues to post record-breaking quarterly reports (see “Apple Posts Record-Breaking Q1 2022 Despite Supply Constraints,” 27 January 2022). But is Apple keeping its customers and biggest fans happy?

Our friend Jason Snell has once again released his annual Six Colors Report Card, polling 53 Apple-adjacent professionals on the company’s performance, including many of us here at TidBITS. Overall scores were quite high, led by the Mac, hardware reliability, iPhone, and Wearables categories—the new MacBook Pro received especially glowing comments. Conversely, the developer relations and HomeKit categories were low last year and dropped even further this year.

Apple Report Card 2021 score

Curiously, other than a big jump in the Apple TV category (from an already low point, and entirely due to the new Siri Remote), every other category was either flat or saw a slight decline from last year. As always, the full report is well worth reading, particularly for the pithy quotes from your favorite Apple pundits.

Six Colors Apple Report Card changes

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Comments About Apple in 2021: The Six Colors Report Card

Notable Replies

  1. I sent this to Jason. Apple software quality is going in the wrong direction.

    My $.02 (which takes inflation into account :slight_smile:

    I love my 16” MB Pro M1 Max. BUT, I don’t love the software on it. Today crashed. I get crashes from weekly, and aberrant behavior daily (either a song that is ’stuck’ or that plays but the sound on the laptop is disabled. I have workarounds, but I should NOT have to work around bugs!) Also multiple developers are reporting porting problems. I chatted with one guy who did my favorite HDR photo processing app, and he told me he’s not porting his photo applications to the M1. The stuff he is porting is having problems, particularly with APIs that have changed or that just don’t work. Similarly, the Aquamacs project is reporting issues and delays with an M1 native version. (Emacs has been ported to -so many- different operating systems and platforms, I’m shocked there’d be porting problems. But if the APIs have changed/are broken, that would explain things.) All this feels like Apple is going -backwards- in software quality assurance. And that is Not A Good Thing!

    And don’t get me started on the abomination that is on Mac OS and iOS! It is totally unacceptable for a Calendar app to put an appointment on my calendar that I cannot delete (from either phone or Mac) That just breaks one of the fundamental rules of good user design!

    If you want to have “fun”, try setting up a Mac without initially configuring iCloud, and then add/activate iCloud. I did that on my wife’s M1 Mini. It was an exercise in computer security frustration! Enter her computer password. Enter iCloud password. Enter 6 digit code sent to her phone. Enter -my- iCloud password (something to do with Find My Mac). Acknowledge “a new device has signed into iCloud” on her iPhone and iPad. Then un-configure stuff that was changed, such as when her phone rings, FaceTime on the Mini also makes noise (that’s a setting in, not in System Preferences.)

  2. It’s of course great to see that Mac is doing so well. Eat your heart out, iPad and iOS. :wink:

    While the Mac is in a league of its own in that chart (well strictly speaking, the Mac together with HW quality in general), I find the relative changes from last year surprising. The Mac actually did worse this year than last. Only a little (and less than most other categories), but still, it was judged in worse shape than one year ago. Mind you, judges think the Mac worsened by the same absolute amount as Apple’s SW quality. Now that — WTH???

    How can, after the intro of the M1 Pro/Max and the new MBPs and all the glory of the other M1 Macs, the Mac be considered having deteriorated? And by as much as SW quality? Either the people who came up with these ratings are on drugs or I am. :laughing:

    Is it that people are getting impatient with Apple regarding M1 Pro/Max for the desktop? Or are folks still grieving Boot Camp? How can anybody argue the Mac is in worse shape than 1 year ago? Note, this is Mac we’re talking about, not the (at times buggy) software that runs on it, that’s another category.

  3. There is one man at the top of the pyramid who is supposedly responsible for all of Apple’s software. His name is Craig Federighi.

    Based on my experience and the fact Apple has a distinct tendency not to listen to users, I can only conclude that there is something dysfunctional at Apple when it comes to software. Add to that Apple’s tendency to have a “not invented here” disdain for third-party software, the net results don’t paint a pretty picture.

    What is frustrating is there really is no alternative to Apple’s OS and some of their applications. It’s like finding out your wife is having an affair with her smarmy tennis instructor and every other women on Earth is either happily married or not as attractive as my wife.

    Divorce is out of the question . . . So now what?

  4. I dunno. Probably easier to go without sex than to go without a phone & computer these days :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

  5. I’m guessing that the drop was essentially statistical noise, though there’s another argument that the initial release of the M1 in 2020 was so positive that even the good things that happened in 2021 were slightly less well received.

    And there’s still no affordable Apple 5K display! :-) horse>

  6. Yes same here. Might have to get that LG.

  7. And for amusement value, I’m number 12 in the chart showing how positive people are in their scores, a couple of spots below Gruber in the Fun with Charts followup.

  8. Mandatory counseling? If nothing else, there should be a much easier way to provide feedback/bug reports to Apple -that gets a response from Apple-.

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