Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Six Color Report Card 2022

Every year, for quite a few years now, Jason Snell over at Six Colors does the Apple Report card where he sends out a survey to a collection of developers, journalists, and enthusiasts of Apple and compiles a “how are they doing?” view of things. I am not one of the panelists of the report card,but as an Apple fanboy, I find it find to review on the questions he is asking.

Mac - A

The Mac is doing great. I can ride on the coattails of last years M1 release and just see that the Mac hardware is crushing it and the software continues to move forward well. I don’t need crazy innovation in the Mac world, just year-over-year improvements and a continual push of the platform forward. I’m proud to be a Mac user in work and in my personal life. I cannot imagine being a Windows user, a Linux user, or a Chromebook user.

iPhone - A

For the last couple of years, slightly by surprise, I have been using an iPhone SE. Here is what I realized - all iPhone are great! I will probably return to a Pro Max at some point, but honestly, having the iPhone SE has never felt like a problem for me. The Touch ID is a bit rough in the cold winter with my gloved fingers, but no more difficult than Face ID when wearing a mask due to covid. The iPhone and iOS is a mature platform, and I’m perfectly happy on the cheapest version for years ago. That is surprising to me!

iPad - B

I don’t have a personal computer anymore. For work, I have a MacBook, but for my own personal life the iPad is my primary computing device and I don’t think I need anything more. This year, when I’ve needed to do some complicated personal computing, I’ve plugged in an external monitor with a mouse and keyboard and gotten it done.

Every year I ask myself the question, can I use my iPad for work? I’m an systems integrator / solutions engineer, and for the most part I totally can. The introduction of Stage Manager was rough - but mostly met my needs. I simply wanted to have a second display and so now I can run two apps at the same time each running full screen - one on my iPad and on my external display. Even more, I can run video conference (Google Meet, Zoom, Teams) and I can screen share on my iPad display while my secondary display is running Slack as I complain to my coworkers about how dumb the meeting is.

My main problem is apps quitting in the background. I do a lot of stuff that requires a persistent connection so having my ssh connections (via Prompt) or my screen connections (via Screens) quit in the background totally messes up my flow. I have to aggressive manage my stages in Stage Manager to try and keep those apps from quitting - and I make sure I am running screens on the destination Unix system so when I do drop I can reconnect.

Wearables - A

I wear the latest Apple Watch for health tracking as part of the quantified self and I love it. There’s nothing magical about it - but I feel a sense of reassurance that I’m logging heart rate, Sp02, etc. over time and that each time I do a walk or go rock climbing I can log the workout. I honestly feel sad when I forget to log a workout; it’s like it didn’t happen.

Apple TV - B

It’s fine and I think this is mostly a commodity space for me now. I have a sense that AppleTV stalked me less than the competitors? I don’t use Up Next, I use three apps: TV Time, Movies (both track through Trackt) and JustWatch. That is where I manage all of the list of shows and movies I want to watch along with figuring out where the heck I am able to watch shows.

Services - B

There is nothing special going on for me with services. I am not an Apple Music subscriber, I take my free Amazon Prime music. I don’t subscribe to Arcade or Fitness or TV+. I conceptually like the idea of Apple One, but for now, it’s just not something that speaks to me.

HomeKit - A

Okay okay, I hear a lot of griping about HomeKit and that Matter is going to solve it - but for me, HomeKit works great. I make sure to buy everything HomeKit that I can and I have a few minor things I need to use HomeBridge for, but I am happy. Open the garage door and the lights turn on. “Hey Siri, goodnight” turns off the TV, lights, and turns on the fan. At my friends house, when the indoor air quality drops, his air purify turns on. HomeKit makes all of that happen and it’s not difficult.

Hardware Reliability - A

I haven’t really had any Mac or iOS hardware failures. It all continues to work and keep on trucking.

Software Quality - A

I don’t struggle with software quality. It all works and works well. I know there are some complaints about the System Preferences changes for macOS, but that’s fine. I know Stage Manager has been a bit of a fiasco, but it does sort of get the job done. Mostly, I find things work and work reliably.