What started out as a relatively quiet year for Apple ended with a bang. Beginning in June with the yearly Worldwide Developers Conference, a flurry of announcements issued forth from Cupertino. The final tally? Two new iPhones and two new iPads, a totally new iOS 7, and even more in the way of Macs.
As the end of 2013 draws near, take a trip with us down memory lane as we recap some of the biggest stories of the year.
More than a new iPhone, more than a new iPad, perhaps the biggest announcement of the year was iOS 7. The latest version of Apple’s mobile platform marked a huge departure from versions 1 through 6, shedding skeuomorphism for a “flattened” design — the brain child of Jony Ive.
In fact, 2013 could just as well be know as the Year of Ive, as his simple, bold design philosophy permeated nearly every aspect of Apple’s design this year. But his touch was most felt with iOS 7, a version of the iPhone operating system that managed to reinvent itself while retaining its familiar feel and intuitive operation.
The response to iOS 7 was mixed. Some said it was too drastic a change. Others said it wasn’t a big enough change. Some simply weren’t fans of the aesthetics. There is no denying, however, that the changes to iOS that debuted in 2013 are only laying the foundation of Apple’s path to the future.
iPhone 5s & iPhone 5c
In 2013, Apple announced two new iPhones: the iPhone 5s (read our review) and iPhone 5c. Despite a powerful 64-bit A7 processor and innovative Touch ID fingerprint lock of the 5s and the low-cost, colorful stylings of the 5c, the dominating storyline was the unprecedented decision to launch two smartphones in the same calendar year.
This was a first for Apple, but the verdict is still out on whether or not it was a smart move. Early indications suggested the iPhone 5s greatly outsold the 5c, and Apple quickly moved to shift manufacturing orders as the more expensive model was in short supply.
As 2013 ends, it still isn’t clear where Apple stands on its little two iPhone “experiment,” but rumors indicate we could again see multiple new models with bigger displays in 2014.
iPad Air & iPad mini with Retina display
The iPad Air (our review) and iPad mini with Retina display (our review of that, too) were Apple’s biggest triumphs of 2013, at least according to Time. The pair ranked number two on the publications’ year-end Top Gadgets of 2013 list.
While we could debate whether or not the iPhone 5s and 5c or new iPads were indeed Apple’s top offering of the year, there is no denying the feat of design and engineering the two tablets, especially the Air, represent.
Apple was able to shrink down the standard iPad footprint to almost a ridiculous degree while adding in features like the 64-bit A7 processor. The same internals made their way to the new iPad mini, and that device was topped off with a Retina display.
Both were in high demand during the holiday season, and stock shortages kept the iPad mini with Retina display a hot commodity. It’s likely to stay that way in early 2014. Apple is rumored to followup the pair with an even bigger ‘iPad Pro’ in 2014 with a screen that could measure in excess of 12 inches.
Mac Updates: OS X Mavericks, new Mac Pro & more
Last, but certainly not least, Apple gave plenty to Mac users this year, as well. The two stories that dominated were the release of OS X Mavericks along with a re-tooled Mac Pro, which launched in December after being teased several times throughout the year.
The Mavericks update signaled a move away from the big cat names typically associated with OS X as the desktop operating system continues to skew closer to its mobile counterpart, adding better integration with iOS while touching up core features. More notable, however, was Apple’s decision to give the operating system away as a free upgrade to current Mac owners, and unprecedented business move that borrows from the iOS model.
The Mac Pro packaged powerful processing, graphical prowess, and plenty of Thunderbolt ports in a cylindrical tower designed equally for form in function. Early reports are positive with the Mac Pro earning favorable reviews and device sales pushing ship dates back to early 2014.
What does Apple have in store for Mac in the new year? We’ll likely see the trend of mobile/desktop integration continue to spread. We might even see our first hybrid device in the form of a touchscreen MacBook Air or a bigger iPad.
Those four points are what defined this year in Apple for us, how about you? Did we miss a story you think stuck out in 2013? What are you looking forward to from Cupertino in the new tear? Stay with us into 2014 as we continue our wall-to-wall coverage of all things iOS and Apple.