Mac in 2022: M2 MacBook Air and Ventura highlights in an otherwise so-so year

MacBook Air 2022 on cobbled ground
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

2023 is just a few days away, which makes it a perfect time to look back over the year about to conclude. Was it a memorable one for Mac fans?

With only three new devices announced in the past 12 months, 2022 wasn't exactly a banner Mac year. And, though better than its predecessor, macOS 13 Ventura probably won't be remembered as anything more than an incremental update that patched a few holes but brought little else to the table — the divisive Stage Manager for Mac notwithstanding.

Take a step back and remember the past 12 months of Mac and macOS. 

New Macs (and missing Pros)

There was much anticipation about the Mac product lineup as 2022 began. It was supposed to be the year we would finally see the last of the Intel-based Macs retired and replaced with Apple silicon. This didn't happen, however, the Mac Pro remaining an Intel holdout. But we did get an all-new Mac and two MacBook upgrades. 

In March, Apple revealed the Mac Studio, a replacement of sorts for the 27-inch iMac. The one-piece device that looks like a slightly larger and thicker Mac mini introduced the Apple M1 Ultra chip. Along with the Mac Studio, Apple revealed the 27-inch Studio Display. Both pieces of hardware were mostly well-received but noted for being very expensive, even by Apple's standards. The rumored Silcon-based iMac Pro / Mac Pro units failed to materialize, however.

Three months later, Apple announced the final two new Macs of the year, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro (2022) and M2 MacBook Air (2022). Though nearly the same size, these laptops look vastly different and target different audiences, while the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros slipped, presumably, into a 2023 release window.

Mac Studio

Mac Studio

(Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

On the professional front, so much of the attention in 2021 and early 2022 was the likely introduction of an Apple silicon Mac Pro and the return of an iMac Pro. This product was discontinued in 2021. Unfortunately, we didn't get either of these devices this year. Instead, Apple launched the Mac Studio, which Apple called an "entirely new Mac desktop." Because of its design, the Mac Studio got another name in our review:  the "best Mac on the market that's probably not for you." 

The Mac Studio is the speediest Mac to date thanks to the Apple M1 Ultra, which offers a 20-core GPU with up to 64-core GPU and 128GB of unified memory. Beyond this, however, it's a strange little beast. It doesn't come with any accessories meaning you can use it with your existing display, keyboard, and mouse — or you can buy new ones. When the most expensive Mac Studio costs $8,000, however, being asked to spend even one additional $1 sounds wrong, especially considering the Mac Pro comes with a Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad and Magic Mouse.

And then there's the Studio Display, which Apple no doubt wants you to buy alongside a Mac Studio. Starting at $1,599, the Studio Display has a lot going for it, starting with its 5K Retina display, impressive built-in speakers, and excellent design. And yet, it doesn't come with some key features that make its price tag seem less sound, including its limited number of ports, lack of HDR and ProMotion, a 12MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage whose picture quality wasn't quite the standard most expected, and a weaker-than-expected refresh rate. 

These points make the Mac Studio + Studio Display combination much less desirable than an updated iMac Pro or Mac Studio. 

13-inch MacBook Pro (2022)

13-inch MacBook Pro (2022)

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

In the United States and elsewhere, car companies often release "special edition" models that are put on the market ahead of a redesign to eliminate old body and component inventory. The 13-inch MacBook Pro (2022) feels like a special edition — for better or worse.

Featuring the same design as the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020), the new model is essentially its predecessor, with some minor differences thrown into the mix. It contains an Apple M2 chip, Spatial Audio, better-unified memory options, and a superior battery adapter. 

What hasn't changed is the fact that the 13-inch MacBook Pro remains the final Apple laptop with Touch Bar. An outstanding feature Apple never truly supported, Touch Bar sits at the top of the device's keyboard and includes Touch ID. The unique feature and lower price points make this a good choice for anyone who wants a MacBook Pro for less. Changes to the SSD configuration means you'll want to start at a 512GB model to get the maximum theoretical speeds.

M2 MacBook Air (2022)

M2 Macbook Air Starlight Hero

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

The best Mac and best MacBook now available, the five-star M2 MacBook Air (2022), had been anticipated for months and didn't disappoint when it arrived this year. Featuring a fantastic and significant new design, the laptop is offered in Starlight and Midnight colors for the first time. The former is a soft golden shade, while the latter is a dark, almost black blue. 

The latest MacBook Air design is uniform, with the same thickness across its entire profile. Gone is the iconic tapered wedge design of previous models. Apple added full-size function keys above the number row and a much larger power/Touch ID fingerprint scanner for the laptop's keyboard. Like the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, the MacBook Air includes a MagSafe 3 charging port alongside its two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports. 

Despite a redesign, the new MacBook Air is still ultraportable and light, at just 2.7 pounds. Inside is the Apple M2 chip, with its impressive speeds making this an excellent choice for casual users, especially students and web surfers. Again, you'll want to push for the 512GB version to get the best speeds.

Welcome to Ventura

macOS 13 Ventura

(Image credit: iMore)

Since launching the game-changing macOS Big Sur in 2020, it's been mostly quiet on the macOS front. It's not that last year's macOS Monterey or the current macOS Ventura updates are boring. It's just they aren't nearly as extraordinary when compared to that major release.

macOS Ventura includes some promising new features such as Stage Manager and Freeform, tools that are also now available on iPhone and iPad. Stage Manager is the latest in a series of features Cupertino has added to Mac over the decades to make windows organization easier. Although a learning curve is associated with using the feature, it looks like a tool Apple is committed to perfecting. Already, there have been updates made. Recently launched Freeform acts as a collaborative digital whiteboard where you can draw and embed objects like images, videos, PDFs, and more. 

macOS Ventura also includes some must-needed tweaks to existing apps, such as the ability to edit sent Messages or delete emails after they've been sent, the introduction of Handoff for FaceTime, the new iCloud Shared Photo Library option, and more. In addition, the update includes a few genuine head-scratchers, such as replacing System Preferences with System Settings. 

With so few design changes made between macOS Big Sur and macOS Ventura, it makes sense we could see some significant changes arrive with macOS 14 in 2023. 

First look: Mac in 2023

Each of the new Macs Apple launched this year is impressive, even the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2022), which now has an even weirder place in the overall MacBook lineup. And yet, after the new MacBook Air models were launched, most assumed more devices would arrive in the fall. Most likely because of continued supply issues, however, this wasn't meant to be. 

New versions of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro are now likely to arrive early next year, along with a new Apple silicon-based Mac mini. The long-awaited Mac Pro with Apple silicon debut should also say hello to the world in 2023, although the time frame for this happening is less certain. 

Anticipated 2023 Mac launches include:

  • Next-generation 24-inch iMac (with Apple M2)
  • 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (with Apple M2 Pro and Apple M2 Pro Max )
  • Mac Pro (with some variation of Apple M2)
  • Mac mini (Apple M2)

That means five new Macs could launch next year, assuming there won't be upgrades to the Mac Studio and MacBook Air, which are also possible. That suggests 2023 will be a massive year for Mac hardware. 

There have been better years for Mac than 2022. And yet, the year wasn't a loss. From the reconfigured MacBook Air to the all-new Mac Studio, the Mac lineup has taken some positive steps since January. 2023 should be a more significant year with the likely arrival of an updated Mac Pro, new MacBook Pros, and a second-generation 24-inch iMac. The software that runs on Mac, macOS, could also see a major update in the coming year, including exciting design tweaks. For Mac, the future's bright.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.