It’s been another transformational year for Apple, mainly due to the company bringing out new Mac products and features to keep itself ahead of the competition, and as we wrap up 2022, there’s plenty to look back on.
There have been some surprises in macOS Ventura, such as Stage Manager and the Weather app, alongside a new focus on gaming, but products such as the rumored Apple silicon Mac Pro are nowhere to be seen.
While Apple teased us about a new Mac Pro back in September by telling us to “wait and see”, it looks as though those plans have changed; but that doesn't mean we've missed out this year, with the impressive Mac Studio and the M2 MacBook Air making waves.
With this in mind, we've passed judgment on what the Mac line delivered in 2022 in terms of software and hardware, and what we'd like to see from the platform in 2023, alongside, in true Apple style, one more thing…
2022 began with macOS 12 Monterey being the latest release for a lot of Macs, and finished with the release of macOS Ventura, a minor but welcome update that brought Stage Manager, a better Spotlight, and the redesigned Weather app from iPad and iPhone.
Since the transition to Apple silicon was announced in 2020, we've seen a growing number of new features that are exclusive to M1 Macs and above, while macOS Ventura has gained features from iOS, such as the Weather app, and Stage Manager from iPadOS 16.
Yet there's been a glaring omission of redesigned widgets on the Mac compared to the iPhone; these could bring a whole new level of functionality to macOS, but for now they're still restricted to a sidebar that pops out when you swipe from right to left on a Mac trackpad.
However, giving a rating for software on the Mac, based solely on Apple's efforts would be a disservice, as third-party developers have created some great apps that take advantage of the new capabilities and features that have come to the Mac in recent years. Apps such as Vivid can expand the brightness of the XDR displays on the Studio Display or latest MacBook Pro, while Focused Work can help you to stay, well, focused on the task at hand.
Even others from the developer community, such as porting games like Unreal Tournament 1999 to Apple silicon Macs, have expanded how you can play games on a Mac, but it looks as though there's finally some commitment from Apple to going beyond what's available for games in the App Store.
Overall, both Apple and third-party app developers have taken Apple silicon and run with it; the question now is whether we’ll start to see new cross-platform features arriving on the platform at the same time as they do on iOS or iPadOS. It took two years for the redesigned Weather app to go from iOS to the Mac – let's see that time-lag drastically reduced for redesigned widgets next.
When it comes to new Macs and Apple silicon, Apple has continued on the extended home run that it started back in 2020 with the M1 MacBook Air. To think that we'd have Apple’s own ARM chip, a much-improved keyboard and a Retina display in a MacBook Air would have been unfathomable in 2018, but the M2 MacBook Air is a joy to use; it's just a shame we didn't get the same range of colors to choose from that Apple offered for the 2021 M1 iMacs.
However, as we’ve mentioned, the Apple silicon Mac Pro didn't appear, even though Apple uncharacteristically teased it in its September keynote. As Mark Gurman recently reported, the powerhouse Mac has been delayed, and we may now see it with an as-yet-unannounced M2 chip in the first half of 2023.
This would mean that Apple would miss its two-year deadline of moving all of its Macs to Apple silicon, but does it matter? Of course not. The Mac Studio does a great job of filling in the Mac Pro gap, and even the MacBook Pro with M1 Pro beats the recently-discontinued iMac Pro in performance if you need more power.
Let's also not forget - COVID messed up plans for many companies, including Apple, so this is most likely why we haven't seen the transition finish this year, and why we saw the iPhones have an uninterrupted upgrade cycle.
However, the Studio Display, while great, had a major flaw in its low-quality camera. For the high price that the display offers, it's baffling how bad the camera was. Apple did roll out a software update that tried to quash some bugs that resulted in this, but even still, the quality wasn't great. Hopefully, a second-generation model fixes this.
Overall, the M2, the second-generation Apple silicon chip still impressed with its power, regardless of the fact that, bafflingly, we saw it in a previous generation of a MacBook Pro. It feels like Apple is just getting started here, and in 2023 the M2 Pro, M2 Max, and M2 Ultra could make a bigger impression than their M1 predecessors did.
Could serious gaming finally make its debut on macOS?
I wanted to highlight gaming, as it feels as though Apple has made a more concerted effort this year instead of merely showcasing its latest lineup in Apple Arcade. At WWDC 2022 it was announced that Resident Evil Village, the eighth instalment in the series, was coming to the Mac, alongside No Man’s Sky, which is also on course to arrive on iPad.
Granted, you can currently play Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Bioshock 2 by buying them from the Mac App Store, as you’ve been able to since they debuted in 2017, but seeing recent games on the Mac like these is encouraging.
It looks as though, finally, we'll see more games come to the Mac that aren't just a port of Angry Birds. As our Computing writer Allisa James wrote in October, playing Resident Evil Village on a 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro (2020), the frame rate would go from 100fps when running at normal settings to over 200fps with Apple’s MetalFX Upscaling technology enabled.
While it's a shame that Valve's Steam storefront isn't on Apple silicon Macs natively, Valve is already busy making its Steam Deck handheld work with a bunch of games that aren’t currently compatible with it, such as Halo: The Master Chief Collection. This is why there's a great opportunity here for Apple to work with other gaming companies.
Seeing games like Street Fighter 6, Destiny 2, and Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth appear on the Mac would be a great next step for the platform, and would further convince users that Apple is serious about bringing these types of games to the Mac.
Before Apple announced Resident Evil Village and No Man’s Sky for the Mac in June, I would have thought it was a case of if this would happen; now, though, it feels very much like a case of when games like Street Fighter 6 will appear, and I'm now convinced that groups inside Apple feel the same too.
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Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.