Apple has been working with Consumer Reports over the holidays to pinpoint the reasons behind the latter's failure to recommend the new MacBook Pro, which is the first MacBook to not have received a Consumer Reports recommendation.
The failure to receive a recommendation was due to the inconsistent battery life test results that Consumer Reports obtained for MacBook Pro. There were speculations that the reason for that is either a bug in the laptop's software or a benchmarking problem.
MacBook Pro 2016 Fails To Receive Consumer Reports Recommendation
Consumer Reports made headlines in December when it did not issue a recommendation for the 2016 MacBook Pro, which was the first time that a MacBook was not recommended by the publication.
According to Consumer Reports, while the new MacBook Pro has a great performance and display quality, the test results on the laptop's battery life were highly inconsistent among several trials. For example, in testing the 13-inch model with the Touch Bar, the first test resulted in a battery life of 16 hours, the second test resulted in 12.75 hours, and the third test resulted in only 3.75 hours.
Apple was not pleased with the results, as it was contrary to its own testing, and so decided to look into the issues that Consumer Reports was facing.
Consumer Reports Uses Flawed Battery Life Testing Method
In a statement by Apple, it said that it found out of the battery life testing process of Consumer Reports that uses a hidden setting on the Safari browser. The setting, normally used for creating websites, turns off the browser cache and is not indicative of real-world usage, as regular users do not even know that such a setting exists.
Consumer Reports explained in a separate statement that it turns off caching, a feature that stores webpages in the laptop's hard drive for faster browser retrieval, as part of the standard protocol that the publication follows for testing laptops.
For testing, Consumer Reports have laptops download a series of 10 websites continuously until the battery runs out, with caching turned off so that each webpage is downloaded as if it were new content instead of having browsers retrieve the webpage from the laptop's hard drive.
When Consumer Reports turned caching on the new MacBook Pro back on, testing resulted in consistently high battery life.
Consumer Reports Testing Triggered Safari Bug
Apple also noted that the usage of the developer setting by Consumer Reports triggered what was described as an intermittent bug on the Safari browser concerning the reloading of icons. This led to the inconsistent results that the publication was obtaining in its tests.
The fix to the Safari bug is now available to beta testers through the newest beta version of macOS 10.12.3. According to Apple, the fix will be rolled out to all users in the upcoming update for the computer operating system.
Testing On The MacBook Pro To Be Run Again
Consumer Reports, without using the flawed method and with the Safari bug fixes, will retest the 2016 MacBook Pro and report its findings once testing is completed.
A recommendation by Consumer Reports carries a lot of weight for most consumers, which is why Apple has been working hard to get one for the new MacBook Pro. Without a recommendation, consumers might shy away from purchasing the laptop.