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Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:14 pm

“Hardware-wise, 2016 was an awful year for the Mac,” said Daring Fireball’s John Gruber. “I like the new MacBook Pros With Touch Bar a lot, but I think they were overdue… The lack of updates to the iMac and Mac mini were a disappointment. And the fact that the Mac Pro hasn’t seen any sort of update in over 1,000 days is downright embarrassing.”

https://sixcolors.com/post/2017/01/2016-report-card/

Sales wise the Mac had a decent year in 2016. Just think how much better sales will be if Apple put some effort into their Mac lineup.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:14 pm

Who is this guy and why do I give a **** what he thinks. I know who Siracusa and Gruber are, but the rest of the people mentioned? I'm sure they make money talking about Apple, but I don't care enough to find out.

Here's a report card I care about: mine:

Mac desktop hardware: W (Withdrew from the "new hardware" market)
Mac notebook hardware: D-
iPhone hardware: C
iPad hardware: W
Watch: C-
Dev Relations: D- (and that's only because they let my app back on to the app store after they tried and failed to take a cut of our cloud subscriptions)
Home/IoT: G is for GTFO. Please don't waste time on this. That Brent guy was right on the money.
Software: S is for Sunk Cost. The software doesn't directly make them money so it's on the back burner. Especially on Mac.
Apple TV: INC (need to get Netflix results in the TV app before I even consider it)
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:19 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
Who is this guy and why do I give a **** what he thinks.


Heh, exactly what I was thinking.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:20 pm

You are very generous with you scores. I give Apple an F overall.

Have you not heard of Marco Arment?
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:23 pm

Well, I gave them some Ws because they didn't participate in those categories. If I thought they were actually trying those categories would have been Fs. I gave the iPhone a very generous C because their devices' responsiveness still put even the best Android devices to shame.

A quick Google shows that I've heard of stuff made by Marco Arment (Tumblr, Instapaper) but the guy? No.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:24 pm

"Straight roads are for fast cars, turns are for fast drivers" - Colin McRae

"If you drive an auto or a dual-clutch you should hang your head in shame." - EU
 
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:24 pm

And just to think, Apple used to be the go to brand for doing some kinds of applications such as photo editing and desktop publishing.
 
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:26 pm

Apple made a Desktop Publishing app?
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:34 pm

End User wrote:
You are very generous with you scores. I give Apple an F overall.


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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:37 pm

End User wrote:
Apple made a Desktop Publishing app?

No, but Desktop Publishing was one of the things that made the Mac big.
 
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:46 pm

It's far from that specific. What made the Mac important and popular was its graphical representations. Stuff we take for granted today, like previewing what a page would look like. You didn't see that sort of thing on other platforms. But let's be honest, if that's all that Apple ever did in its existence, it really did democratize computer-assisted creativity in all of its forms, and the company should be commended for that. Now I can get that same basic experience from a host of graphical front ends from freebie Linux to paid-plus-microtransactions Windows to hardware-dongle-enabled macOS.

I wouldn't be nearly as invested in the second fall of Apple if my livelihood didn't depend on the company finding a way to stave it off.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:53 pm

Mac: Laptop refreshes are underwhelming. Soldered-on RAM limited to 16 gigs max for what's ostensibly a professional-grade laptop, eschewing of traditional ports and Magsafe connector in favor of four USB-C ports resulting in a dongle festival for 95% of users, Even Thinner™ at the expense of battery life, kept the headphone jack but removed optical audio capabilities from it, and lame cover-your-ass maneuvering by removing estimated battery life metric from macOS. No desktop product refreshes whatsoever. D.
iPhone: Other than removing the perfectly good headphone jack and adding another dongle, just another evolution of what came before. C.
iPad: Not my market.
Watch: Slightly better. Still pointedly inessential. C.
Apple TV: Not my market.
Cloud Services: Lots of complaints about poor communication vis-a-vis Apple Music and Apple's cloud. Confusion about document sharing between the cloud and both desktop and mobile offerings, too. Execution here has been lacking. C.
Home/IoT: Not my market.
HW Reliability: Still defensible, though the refusal to use PVC in cabling's resulted in less reliable cables and dongles, and exacerbated by their refusal to use strain relief on aesthetic grounds. The lack of user-serviceable components is a drum that still needs beating. B-.
SW Quality: macOS's development is intrinsically tied to iOS in ways that don't suit either platform well. Macs have never felt more like authentication dongles for iOS development. OpenGL development is stuck at version 4.1, Vulkan is pointedly ignored, and all Apple tells anyone about is Metal, which only works inside their own playground. The rewritten PDFKit framework in iOS and macOS alike is incomplete and buggy, with a lot of angry customers and companies forced to create workarounds for Apple's own problems, which they've been slow to fix. Hostility here is undeniable, and only appears to be getting worse. D.
Dev relations: I'm not a developer, but all I hear is complaining at a time when both Linux vendors and Microsoft are stepping up their game more every year. D.
Environ/Social: Touted environmental benefits of their processes are nearly wiped out by non-serviceable components, soldered-together motherboards, and breakage-prone cables and dongles. C-.

Overall: I am really glad I sold my 2013 MacBook Air, took the money, and built a Windows-running Skylake i5 desktop.
Last edited by Concupiscence on Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:07 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:57 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
It's far from that specific. What made the Mac important and popular was its graphical representations. Stuff we take for granted today, like previewing what a page would look like. You didn't see that sort of thing on other platforms. But let's be honest, if that's all that Apple ever did in its existence, it really did democratize computer-assisted creativity in all of its forms, and the company should be commended for that. Now I can get that same basic experience from a host of graphical front ends from freebie Linux to paid-plus-microtransactions Windows to hardware-dongle-enabled macOS.

I wouldn't be nearly as invested in the second fall of Apple if my livelihood didn't depend on the company finding a way to stave it off.

Unfortunately sooner or later if Apple continues its free fall, you may be forced to change your livelihood.  
 
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:04 pm

I don't like Apple products, but I do feel bad for Apple in times like this.  They take such high criticism because they're regarded as the market leaders.  Guess what, one single company doesn't need to (shouldn't have to) lead the innovation of an industry.  Haters are always jumping on them with the whole,"when was the last time they did anything revolutionary" BS.  Well ask yourselves, when is the last time any of their competitors did anything truly revolutionary?

Desktops: The Mac Pro was definitely a splash, but IMO, Apple hadn't been doing much in the desktop market even before that launch.  It's no secret that the computing landscape is becoming more mobile.  I think they were just smart to reduce their investment in a declining market segment.
Laptops:  They basically pioneered the ultrabook, were one of the first to go to solid state storage, and are pushing higher dpi displays as the new norm.  Yes, their laptops are VERY expensive (heck, all their products are VERY expensive, but they catch hell when they release budget-minded hardware).  Yes, they don't have touch screens or 360 hinges but part of me wonders how much those features actually get used by the average consumer anyway.  Dongles are an awful idea.  But here is a great example of looking at the competition and asking what revolutionary things they've come up with.  Furthermore, mobile hardware is plateauing.  When 3+ year old laptop hardware still perfectly suits the needs of a consumer, they have little motivation to buy something new.  Apple will see this plateau more drastically than their competitors because they already have things like high DPI displays and SSDs standard.  Their competitors are still transitioning to 1080p+ and SSDs are hard to come by in sub-premium offerings.
Phones: You can't invent the iPhone every year.  One thing is for certain, iPhone cameras are the industry benchmark, and camera phone quality is very important aside from battery life (which they also excel in).  Dongles again.  And Apple was slow to adopt the larger screen size, but IMO >5" screens are too big for a phone, so...**
Tablets: The tablet market as a whole is a declining business.  Not sure why Apple is solely responsible for that decline.**
Watch:  Nobody is really having success in the smart watch market.  It's a concept that is ahead of the hardware.  Holding Apples nose to the grindstone is a little hypocritical.
Apple TV:  Are they really even doing this anymore?  Somewhat like their desktops, they probably look at this as a requisite iron in the fire.
Software:  Pretty sure this gets more than half the credit for drawing new customers.  PC users away from Windows, and phone users away from Android/Blackberry.  Have those respective competitors taken a lesson from Apple and brought their products close to par since?  Sure.  Yeah, Siri isn't good at voice recognition, but look how fragmented the Android OS deployment is.

**Similar to laptops and desktops, phone/tablet hardware grew in leaps and bounds in it's infancy to keep up with software requirements.  These days, 3+ year old mobile hardware is still largely useful as long as battery life hasn't tanked.  Smartphone camera quality is still increasing at a rapid pace, but we're already starting into a plateau in that category.  I think GPU requirements will continue to increase at a similar pace with desktops.  But when things become "good enough", consumers don't buy as often.

I could go on, but lunch break is over.  As much as I love to hate Apple, I do have to thank them for pushing computing into what it is today.
Last edited by DPete27 on Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:10 pm

whm1974 wrote:
Unfortunately sooner or later if Apple continues its free fall, you may be forced to change your livelihood.

Nah, we're releasing on both decently-sized mobile platforms, and if somehow Microsoft came roaring back from the dead in the mobile space, I could build a Windows UWP binary in fairly short order.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:51 pm

I just ordered a fairly maxed out MacBook Pro 15.  I wasn't going to get one until later, but Kaby Lake was such a disappointment, I figured there was no point in waiting.  Graphics are a bit lame, even with the 460, but I've seen some videos showing decent performance in many modern games. 
Looks like the CTO models are still taking a while to get out, since mine isn't due to ship until Feb 7 at the earliest.
 
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:18 am

Concupiscence wrote:
Overall: I am really glad I sold my 2013 MacBook Air, took the money, and built a Windows-running Skylake i5 desktop.

What do you use when you are mobile? Just your phone?
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:20 am

Thresher wrote:
I just ordered a fairly maxed out MacBook Pro 15.

Congrats.

I'm tough on Apple but I do like their laptops.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:21 am

whm1974 wrote:
Unfortunately sooner or later if Apple continues its free fall

Apple is failing when it comes to their desktop lineup. Everything else I rate decent to very good.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:28 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
A quick Google shows that I've heard of stuff made by Marco Arment (Tumblr, Instapaper) but the guy? No.

Marco Arment also co-hosts a great podcast called ATP. I highly recommend that you listen to this episode (Chris Lattner was the guest on ATP this week):

http://atp.fm/episodes/205
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:30 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
if somehow Microsoft came roaring back from the dead in the mobile space

That does not seem likely:

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/01/m ... onemobile/
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:19 pm

Mac desktop hardware: Fail with a perfect zero
The Mac Pro has stopped being a joke and is now just depressingly sad that Apple is offering a three year old system at the same price when it was introduced. Worse is that the previous 2010/2012 models can be upgraded with similar performance (outside of AVX enabled applications) with more memory and faster video cards. The Mac Mini and iMac have also gone years without updates. What is worse is that Microsoft is doing a better job of courting the creative professional with the Surface Studio than anything Apple has in this space over the course of 2016.

Mac notebook hardware: D+
Apple did do a few updates here but fell short of greatness. Thunderbolt 3 is a bold move but it would have been nice to include one or two USB Type A ports on MacBook Pros. While the Vanilla MacBook got an upgrade, it too needed another physical port. I'm still perplexed that Apple didn't offer a Lightning to Type-C cable at the MacBook Pro's launch for these machines to charge an iPhone. Apple's pursuit of form over function can be felt in the mediocre battery life the machines. Depending on your use-case, it may even be a step backwards. The upgrade to SkyLake-U and SkyLake-H bring some IPC improvements. These systems launched at the eve of KabyLake-U which brings a few hundred Mhz in the same power envelope for the 13.3" model. (The 15" model should be fine for awhile as Kaby Lake-H hasn't been released and with dedicated GPUs the 15" model won't be see much gain outside of clock speeds.) The real insult to professionals is the 16 GB of memory on the Mac Pros. Apple's excuse for not permitting 32 GB or even 64 GB is exceptionally lame. If Apple needed those few milliwatts of power to keep the same battery life, perhaps they should have been brave enough to use a larger battery in these systems.

On the positive, the Touch Bar and Touch ID are nice additions. Thunderbolt 3 needs a few more peripherals but it and Type-C more in generally I see as being the future of wired connectivity.

I do see the second iteration of this hardware being a very nice upgrade later in 2017.

iPhone hardware: C+
The iPhone 7 is more of an iteration of the iPhone 6/6s but that is entirely OK. Even two years after release, the plain iPhone 6 is still good hardware today and Apple has been on a steady but clearly incremental improvement from that base. The Apple A10 chip is what makes Intel wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweet.

iPad hardware: B
Apple released the iPad Pro in 9.7" and 12.9" models in 2016. These are exceptionally good tablets with fast processors and plenty of memory to actually do a nice wide gamut of professional work. They're not the PC replacement Apple's advertisements claim to be but they are edging into that territory.

The regular iPad line up in 2016 saw some pricing changes to make room for the new Pro models. Not a bad thing but in 2017 Apple needs to do a top-to-bottom alignment of their iOS hardware. Base it on A10 for the smaller phones. A10X with 2 GB of memory for the iPad Mini, A10X with 4 GB memory for the regular 9.7" iPad and then the A10Pro for the Pro models having even more memory and 4+4 CPU cores.

Apple Watch: C
I personally don't get the appeal of the Apple Watch and the 2016 update is relatively minor in terms of hardware. The bigger update was on the software side and that came to all Apple Watch owners (a good thing!).

Dev Relations: C
Apple still continues it wise tradition of broadcasting major changes in advance and develop their APIs with foresight. However, the real cause of frustration is getting items into and dealing with the App Store from all the reports I've read.

Software: D
Apple just upgraded a few of their professional applications in early 2017 but this is the 2016 report card. They've been mainly doing bug fixes and maintenance releases, which is support. Several other applications saw updates in 2015 so I see 2016 as passable in this perspective. However, Apple certainly needs to do more here, especially if they're not going to touch the Mac hardware as frequently.

Apple TV: D
Apple upgraded the AppleTV in late 2015 so not upgrading the hardware in 2016 is excusable to a degree. However, Apple needs to move forward with support for 4K and HDR based media. What would be more impressive is if Apple were to release a chip dedicated to this platform to include things like HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet (10/00 seriously?)
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:38 pm

While I gave Apple an overall F, it was for their failure to deliver on the Mac desktop front. Individually there are bright spots (and one other mega fail):

Mac notebook hardware: A
The focus on Thunderbolt 3 is exactly what I want to see from Apple. The new MacBook Pro lineup looks great. The lack of a 32GB option is a bit of a bummer.

As far as the MacBook goes it received a mild update to what was already a superb design. I bought the 2015 edition and I absolutely love it (I rarely use the USB 3.1 Gen1 port).


iPhone hardware: A
Fast charging. Fast CPU. Fast fingerprint reader. Tons of storage. A real joy to use. CPU performance of the A10 comes very close to that of the 1.3 GHz Core M in my 2015 MacBook.


iPad hardware: F
Both the iPad Pro in 9.7" and 12.9" forms are running on 2015 era tech (the original 12.9" was released in late 2015). I bought the original 12.9" on release day and, while I love it, Apple needs to bring it up to current specs ASAP.

I hope Apple updates the iPad mini this year. It is a shame that the mini has remained stagnant for so long. Apple does a great job when it comes to ignoring portions of their product lineup.


Apple Watch: A
A magnificent platform. The performance/UI improvements that appeared with watchOS 3 were striking even if you were an owner of the original Series 1. The Series 2 was a very nice step up hardware wise.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:54 pm

End User wrote:
Mac notebook hardware: A

*snort*

I use a Macbook Pro (not the new one, the previous version) for my job. It's OK. Battery life is good, and the screen is nice. But the keyboard sucks, there isn't enough RAM, and if you put anything beyond a light CPU load on the thing, the fan spools up to a volume level and pitch that I find rather intrusive (and quite frankly wouldn't tolerate in a desktop build). I'd give the hardware a B+ at best.

In spite of it being twice the thickness with an inferior screen and having half the battery life, I prefer my refurb HP EliteBook as a mobile computing platform. (And hey, it cost like 1/4th what a new MacBook Pro costs.) Sure, it isn't as sleek or elegant. But I prefer function over form.

From everything I've heard, the new one sounds like a step backward. And the lack of >16GB RAM option (still!) is a near-dealbreaker for a software dev who needs to run VMs. So probably a B- or C?
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:16 pm

"You're grading it wrong."
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:46 pm

just brew it! wrote:
the keyboard sucks

If you think the keyboard sucks on yours then you are going to love the new one. :)

I like the keyboard on my MacBook so I have no issue with the keyboard on the new MacBook Pro.

just brew it! wrote:
And if you put anything beyond a light CPU load on the thing, the fan spools up to a volume level and pitch that I find rather intrusive

I have the generation before yours. A single core Cinebench run won't make any fan noise. Pushing the GT 750M or all 4 cores will light the fans up rather quickly. I'm not bothered by it as it strikes me as a necessary evil to keep things cool while providing me with the power I need. Comparing it to a desktop makes no sense. The big question is how does this fan noise compare to the quad core/dedicated graphics equipped competition? Is Apple better/worse/same when compared to the quad core / dedicated graphics equipped competition?
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:51 pm

Just browsing the frikkin' web will make the fans spool up sometimes.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:58 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Just browsing the frikkin' web will make the fans spool up sometimes.

That is really bad. Come on Apple you can do better then that.
 
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:01 pm

just brew it! wrote:
And the lack of >16GB RAM option (still!) is a near-dealbreaker for a software dev who needs to run VMs. So probably a B- or C?

Fair enough but a software developer would be far better off working on a 2017 era Mac Pro.
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Re: Apple in 2016: The Six Colors report card

Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:03 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Just browsing the frikkin' web will make the fans spool up sometimes.

That does not sound right to me. The only site that does that for me is Google Maps in 3D mode (it lights up the dedicated GPU).

If websites were to frequently push the hardware that far my 12" MacBook would be unusable.
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