Archive for April 6, 2022

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Apple Business Essentials for Small Businesses


Apple today announced that Apple Business Essentials is now available to all small businesses in the US. The new service brings together device management, 24/7 Apple support, and iCloud storage into flexible subscription plans. Apple also unveiled new AppleCare+ for Business Essentials options that can be added to any plan. Additionally, a two-month free trial will be available to all customers, including those who have been using Apple Business Essentials in beta.

Jason Snell:

Per-user pricing starts at $3 per month, and increases based on the number of devices and amount of iCloud storage allotted to individual users. (The top plan, supporting three devices per user with 2TB of iCloud storage, is $13.) Plans with AppleCare+ included start at $10 per user per month and goe up to $25. AppleCare+ credits aren’t tied to individual users, but pooled across the entire organization, and expire after a year. Business Essentials comes with a two-month trial period, so that companies can experiment with it before deciding to roll it out.

On the horizon for the service, but not yet in this version: support for Google Workspace as an identity provider (currently Microsoft Azure is the only one supported) is coming “later this spring”, and Apple is working on a way to let apps that aren’t in the Mac App Store to be rolled out to devices.


Update (2022-04-27): Tim Hardwick:

Apple later this year will discontinue Fleetsmith, its mobile device management (MDM) solution for administrators needing to manage fleets of Apple devices.


2022 Six Colors Apple in the Enterprise Report Card

Jason Snell:

Now that there have been two surveys, we can compare last year’s scores with this year’s and see how sentiment has changed. Except for macOS identity management, which took a drop, and security and privacy, which remained the same, all scores were up. Biggest moves were software reliability and deployment, followed by the future of Apple in the enterprise.


John Welch wrote: “If your needs happen to align with Apple’s almost perfectly, then it’s amazing. But there are a lot of critical holes, especially regarding macOS. Automation is particularly bad in that there is no one coherent automation framework a la Windows and .NET/PowerShell, but rather a mélange of things that communicate in the clumsiest of ways, leading to AppleScripts calling shell scripts, shell scripts calling AppleScripts, having to bundle entire scripting implementations in an application to call a python script, one automation framework that only works in a user context, other automation frameworks that clearly only exist as a way to run iOS shortcuts and which would not be that useful for many enterprise needs. That’s not to say the iOS integration and support is bad—but Apple clearly views user-created automation as a toy best left to children. In comparison to what MS has done with PowerShell at all levels of their platform, Apple fundamentally has no clue about supporting user-created automation that doesn’t begin and end with Xcode and Swift. Apple’s documentation for any of their automation efforts is at best described as ‘bad,’ and the only reason the automation documentation not being the worst part is that Apple’s support in their own products for automation is so relentlessly abysmal. Apple has the resources to fix this—they currently don’t care to.”


James Smith wrote: “Feedback assistant is still not where it needs to be, and I rarely get responses to issues raised there. I’m left to raising tickets through the AppleCare for enterprise program if I actually want traction on an issue.”


Bart Reardon wrote: “Taken in isolation, there are obviously things that one could complain about. But when held against other hardware vendors in the same space, there’s almost no comparison. The 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pros took the crown from the 2012-2015 MacBook Pros as the best hardware form and function. (RIP Touch Bar and butterfly keyboard!) Still too early to get a good metric on the instance of warranty claims versus non-Apple devices in our environment for the new hardware.”


Five Years to Mac Hardware Turnaround

Joe Rossignol:

Five years ago, the Mac lineup was in a bad state. Over three years had passed since Apple redesigned the Mac Pro with a sleek but constrained “trash can” enclosure, while the iMac, MacBook Air, and Mac mini had also gone years without updates.

At the time, some users began to question whether Apple was still committed to the Mac, especially at the high end of the market.

The criticism ultimately led Apple to hold a meeting with a small group of reporters, where it apologized to pro Mac users and ensured that it remained committed to the Mac. In a rare and surprising move, Apple also pre-announced it was working on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro with a modular design, a new pro-level iMac, and a new pro display.

Mac hardware has improved a lot. Software is still not in a good place. It needs better reliability/quality and more capabilities. The quality issues seem to have started with the switch to annual releases. The limited capabilities seem to be a combination of sandboxing/security concerns being weighted too heavily and designs/code brought back from iOS unfairly limiting what the Mac versions can do.

Nick Heer:

Then, it was hard for me to recommend any Mac to a friend; now, the Mac lineup is a question of what level of performance and excellence you desire. This press meeting felt like a turning point from one extreme to the other — eventually.

High on my wish list of articles for someone with the right connections to write is a deeply reported look at the Mac’s doldrums. It cannot all be due to stagnation in Intel’s processor lineup around the same time, or any one individual. Something else happened — or, more likely, many somethings else.

Riccardo Mori:

If the sheer raw power of computers has increased orders of magnitude in the last 30 years, the range of applications (in both senses) for a computer hasn’t increased or spread in a comparable way.


Apps that were previously good-quality, powerful, and versatile have been neutered and have become ‘just okay’ or ‘good enough’. The Utilities folder in Mac OS has been slowly but surely depopulated over time. iOS apps with an ingenious premise, like Music Memos, are being left behind as flashes in the pan. The consensus with iTunes was that Apple should have split it into different apps so that these could be better at handling specific tasks than the old monolithic media manager. Apple eventually did split iTunes into different apps, but forgot the second part of the assignment.

Aperture overall was a better application than Adobe Lightroom when the two apps coexisted. Apple could have kept improving Aperture and kept making it better than Lightroom. Instead they gave up. We now have Photos as sole ‘sophisticated’ Apple photo tool. Which is neither fish (iPhoto) nor flesh (Aperture).


Mac Pro Historical Perspective

Jeff Johnson:

Below is a historical list of changes in the base price of the Mac Pro and Power Mac.


I would argue that the Mac Pro as we software developers knew it was never given a successor after the “trash can”. The Mac Pro was discontinued and replaced with a different computer of the same name that was no longer for its largest pro audience. I don’t know many individual software developers now who can afford a new Mac Pro. I certainly can’t. The Apple news media gleefully exclaim “The new Mac Pro is not for you!”, but the problem is that the old Mac Pro was for people like me, as proven by the fact that I had one, as well by Federighi’s statement that it was for people like me. In my eyes, the 2019 Mac Pro was a betrayal of Apple’s 2017 assurances.


Ten years ago we had relatively affordable, conveniently upgradable Mac Pro models. Since then we gained a faster CPU, but otherwise we’ve lost everything else great about the Mac Pro.