My Part of the Six Colors Apple Report Card

Today, Six Colors released their annual appraisal of Apple in the eyes of their panel of experts. This is my very first year being part of the panel! Here’s what I said:

Related to Apple Hardware, I gave Apple a 5, saying:

“The 2021 MacBook Pro [is] the most important product Apple has released since the 2012 MacBook Pro sported the first Retina display on an Apple laptop. Apple has redeemed some poor choices, and built a product that’s suited for the Pro moniker. Great work, Apple”

Related to the iPad, I gave Apple a 4, saying:

“iPadOS remains a second class citizen in terms of adoption, focus and attention for Apple, and that makes the best-in-class hardware seem a bit less shiny. No question that the new iPad mini is the best device to carry the moniker, but it still isn’t quite enough of a workhorse. Until the software catches up with the hardware, the iPad is going to be a pretty niche player.”

Related to Apple Wearables, I gave Apple a 4, saying:

“In 2021, I changed jobs, and suddenly had to spend a lot more time on videoconferences. My podcasting headphones were deeply uncomfortable after a few hours of wear. I visited an Apple store for an iPhone repair and tried on a pair of AirPods Max. I swore audibly, and an Apple employee came to check on me to make sure I was okay. I was okay—they fit like a dream, they moved the right way, they didn’t pinch where the temples on my glasses met the ear cup, they sounded incredible. I was so mad that I was about to spend $549, but when you wear them 6-8 hours a day, every day, and they cause you no pain or confusion? That’s money well spent.”

I will also say that I am really enjoying Spatial Audio in my office, and that I hope this comes more places. It is actually something I deeply enjoy.

Related to Services, I gave Apple a 4, saying:

“I remain a happy customer of the Apple One bundle. This is a good product, composed of some excellent items (iCloud, Apple Fitness+, Apple TV+), some okay items (Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple Card), and AppleCare remains a product in Apple’s lineup.”

Related to HomeKit and Home Automation, I gave Apple a 2, saying:

“Apple needs a better story here, but the HomePod mini is a solid entrant in the home speaker line. The poor, neglected HomePod, though, is suffering service and experience degradation that needs to be addressed. I am hopeful for a new standard with new material to help uncloud the picture, but we’re still a long way from good.”

Related to Software, I gave Apple a 3, saying:

“macOS Monterey is an incremental improvement, but there’s a long way to go here. Apple only just expanded bike directions for Maps beyond a few core cities, and they have a long way to go to bring the Maps experience to an appropriate level of experience everywhere they promise it. Overall, the Mac’s software is aging poorly. Calendar, Mail and Contacts remain stuck in a much earlier, much less interesting world of personal information management. Mail cannot scale to meet the needs of modern mail experiences, and that’s, frankly, a bit criminal in this world. While Monterey is an improvement over Big Sur — especially for organizations that support Macs at scale as part of business environments — there’s a long way for Apple to go. It feels as if the bold Apple is gone, and it’s replaced by a meek Apple, afraid of making big strides.”

Related to Developer Relations, I gave Apple a 3, saying:

“We need better relationships between MDM developers and Apple, with more give and take, more conversations, more impactful input, and a better cadence for partnerships. I know that my take is different than many, but I’m a different sort of developer in my day job than most. When it comes to the App Store, Apple has some hard choices to make, lest they risk having the whole thing slip right through their fingers in the form of federal regulation of their spaces.”