Let’s break this down.
The Spark Max does have an approximately equivalent feature, the Smart Motion stuff. It’s named differently for vendor hype.
The feature REV wrote observes bare CAN frames almost certainly, but this is going to keep breaking unless CTRE keeps their frame format the same, which they have no reason to due so given their ongoing litigation with Diligent Inc. and basic business senses.
For certain teams, the occasionally obtuse and odd behaviors of the CTRE API, this is a good thing.
You would want an external encoder regardless, given that effective resolution is useful when you have as little backlash as possible in a mechanism, not something teams are known for being perfect at given the mechanical complexity.
While we’ve definitely had issues with the Tuner being buggy at times, the most recent updates that allowed bus-wide firmware updates is lovely and greatly alleviates that workflow. I’ve seen others in this thread that say they had issues, and I won’t discount the possibility we got absurdly lucky with our setup.
I’d list issues I’ve seen people have with the Falcons, but the majority of them weren’t controls issues.
For the time being though, if we want to use a brushless 550 class motor, we have to use a Spark Max. CTRE doesn’t sell an equivalent product even if we wanted to use it. And don’t take this as a knock on the Falcon, I love the options being introduced for brushless control in FRC nowadays, none are perfect, but objective analysis and avoiding FUD are essential.