As another year winds down, we offer the top 10 Apple news stories of the past 12 months.

The story of the year 

The NSA spy ring is uncovered

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

In July, NSA leaker Edward Snowden verified what many had feared — the United States government spies on its citizens. More troubling, some of the biggest names in technology were confirmed as participants in this enterprise — active or otherwise.

As Joe White recently summarized:

After concerns surrounding iPhone surveillance first hit the Web, Apple immediately denied “helping the U.S. government to spy on us,” as a further report of ours explained.

The Cupertino, Calif. company published an open letter to Mac and iDevice users concerning its commitment to customer privacy, and along with a bunch of other companies, Apple then first called for reforms to the NSA’s surveillance actions.

By December, Apple officially joined other industry giants in demanding reform to the U.S. government’s surveillance activities.

The exiled Snowden, meanwhile, promises more intelligence leaks are coming in 2014.

Other stories that made news

The year of iOS 7

iOS 7

Apple’s iOS 7 was announced in June. By the end of the year, it was clear this was no ordinary upgrade. Featuring a flatter, minimalistic design, iOS 7 was the most significant iOS update since the first iPhone debuted in 2007.

Don’t like the new update? You’re likely in the minority. By the beginning of December, Apple’s iOS 7 was installed on more than 74 percent of devices in North America.

Apple changes the iPhone

Few were expecting much from the mid-cycle iPhone 5s. Nonetheless, the handset was shaping up to be the most popular iPhone in history.

The iPhone 5s is the first smartphone to feature a 64-bit processor. It also includes a fingerprint identity scanner, and a better, faster camera. It is also the first iPhone to come in gold.

The gold iPhone 5s

The gold iPhone 5s

The iPhone 5c, meanwhile, became Apple’s first mid-priced handset when it was released alongside the iPhone 5s in September. Available in multiple colors, the handset proved not to be for everyone. However, with prices dropping to as low as $27 by the holidays, the iPhone 5c is likely to have staying power.

Apple’s iTunes Radio begins to shake up the music industry

Twitter #Music and Rdio have struggled, and Spotify has been forced to release a free service for mobile devices. This is what happens when Apple launches a free streaming music service.

Unaffected, at least for now is Pandora, which has seen a 9 percent increase in listeners following the launch of iTunes Radio in September.

The iPad Air arrived with an unexpected name … 

iPad Air

iPad Air

The rumors were correct, as Apple launched a thinner, faster 9.4-inch iPad this fall. The biggest surprise? The larger tablet was called the iPad Air.

… As the iPad mini with Retina display quietly launched

Ever since the first iPad mini arrived in 2012, we knew Apple would eventually release a version of its 7.9-inch tablet with a Retina display. That happened on a quiet Tuesday in November, when sales for the iPad mini with Retina display commenced.

China Mobile welcomes the iPhone

This month, Apple and China Mobile finally announced a multi-year deal that will bring the iPhone to the world’s largest carrier for the first time.

China Mobile has 780 million subscribers. It also has 1.2 million 2G/GSM, 3G/TD-SCDMA, 4G/TD-LTE base stations and over 4.2 million Wi-Fi access points. By the end of 2013, the company’s 4G services will be available in 16 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. By the end of next year, China Mobile plans to complete the rollout of more than 500,000 4G base stations, which will cover more than 340 cities with 4G service.

Yes, this is a big deal.

The “iWatch” is coming

iWatch Design Concept by Sourcebits

iWatch Design Concept by Sourcebits

Apple’s first-generation “iWatch” is almost certainly going to be launched in 2014. The long-rumored device could feature an OLED display, be available in two screen sizes, and include wireless charging.

Only time will tell whether the iWatch becomes Apple’s next iPad … or Newton.

Apple’s recovery

Remember hearing about Apple’s impending financial demise? Yeah, we didn’t think so.

The “iTV” may be coming, but …

Apple may eventually release a television set. That didn’t happen in 2013, and probably won’t in the near future. Hopefully, 2014 will bring with it a new Apple TV.

What do you think were the top Apple stories of 2013?