More Fulsome 2022 Report Card Comments

I may have already linked to this year’s instalment of the Six Colors Apple Report Card, but I did not expand my commentary beyond what Jason Snell quoted in the piece, or even reveal what I graded each category. I am still not going to do that in full — see if you can guess which of these is mine — but there are a couple of things I think are worth expanding upon.

Michael Tsai:

Software Quality: 1 Most things feel kind of buggy, and the Mac is in a particularly bad state, with a large number of small bugs (many persisting for years) and some debilitating larger ones. I’ve documented some of them here.

Federico Viticci gave software quality two points and was similarly underwhelmed:

Most of my concerns about Apple’s software quality this year are about the poor, unfinished, confusing state they shipped Stage Manager in. I’m not going to rehash all that. Instead, I’d also point out that I was hoping to see more improvements on the Shortcuts front in 2022, and instead the app was barely touched last year. It received some new actions for built-in apps, but no deeper integration with the system. I continue to experience crashes and odd UI glitches when working on more complex shortcuts, and I’d like to see more polish and stability in the app.

I gave software quality three points out of five, and I was being generous to a perhaps unfair extent. I have a hard time knowing how to grade this category and I always regret whatever score I choose because it is a mixed bag within Apple’s ecosystem and across all software I use regularly.

In 2022, I filed something like two bug reports every week solely against Apple’s own applications and operating systems. I am not a developer, so none of these are problems with APIs or documentation; all are from a user’s perspective. Some of them are not so significant, but contribute to a general feeling of unfinishedness — for example, if you initiate Siri in MacOS Ventura, you will see a tiny shadow in the upper-right of the screen, as though there is a window in the foreground.1 Sometimes, it is a goofy bug in Safari that beachballs your Mac. But a lot of the time, I find bugs that make me wonder if anyone actually tested the product before shipping it — “death by a thousand cuts” kind of stuff. Apple News links which point to stories unavailable in News where I live, but which are available on the web, are a dead end;2 AirPlay remains unreliable unless you set your Apple TV to never sleep;3 Siri sometimes asks me which contact details to use for iMessage when asking to send a message to recent contacts.4 These are just a few of the bugs I reported in the past several months. Apple News has used inscrutable URLs since it launched and there is still no way to preview what a channel’s icon or logo looks like — both are bugs I reported eight years ago.

Is all of that deserving of a lower score? Probably, but I have a hard time figuring out whether this is abnormally poor or merely worse than it ought to be. I seem to be living and working in a sea of bugs no matter whether I am using my Macs at home, the Windows PC at work, Adobe’s suite of products, or my thermostat. It is disheartening to realize we have built our modern world on unstable, warranty-free systems.

Stephen Hackett:

Developer Relations: 2/5

It’s harder to think of a harder self-own than Apple’s rollout of additional App Store ads in late 2022. The App Store was instantly flooded with ads for low-brow titles like gambling and hook-up apps.

I am pretty sure I did not score developer relations, but the sentences above gave me some awful flashbacks. One positive developer note this year was the so-called “reader” app link entitlement. That is right: in the year 2022, developers are permitted to show an external link for user registration — if Apple deems them eligible. It is progress, however slow.

  1. FB11897294 ↥︎

  2. FB10908000; this Apple News link still goes nowhere for me. ↥︎

  3. FB10710546 ↥︎

  4. FB11699482 ↥︎