The duration of 2015 has been a whirlwind, with plenty of news and rumors circulating around all things Apple. Much of what we heard about came to be true, and a few things are still speculations shrouded in mystery. Whether it was the final arrival of the Apple Watch or the rumors of Cupertino working on a smart car, there was plenty of news about the tech giant.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 Apple stories of 2015.
The arrival of the Watch
We had heard quite a lot about the Apple Watch, and it was finally available for preorder on April 10. The launch of Cupertino’s smartwatch was notable not only for the device, but for the fact that Angela Ahrendts held true to her commitment to eradicate long lines for the launch — by allowing orders only online. Unfortunately, all did not go as smoothly as planned.
The launch date for Apple Watch was supposed to be April 24, but many who ordered in the moments right after the floodgates were opened would find themself looking at shipping times that were much further out. In fact, some purchasers would not see their orders shipped until the following month or beyond. Delivery dates quickly slipped to four to six weeks, frustrating many. Others saw delivery dates as sometime in June. Apple clearly did not succeed in managing demand for the smartwatch, proving Robert Burns’ thought that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Apple Music starts spinning tracks
The long-awaited streaming song service from Cupertino, Apple Music, launched on June 30 worldwide. It featured a redesigned music app; the Beats 1 radio station playing 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and plenty of custom, curated playlists to choose from. Once again, though, everything didn’t go as smoothly as Apple probably would have liked.
First of all, the new Apple Music app proved to be far too complicated and cumbersome for many reviewers and users. The second, more serious problem, was traumatic enough for the likes of Jim Dalrymple to ditch Apple Music altogether. The difficulty surrounded the addition of DRM to tracks imported into the Apple Music library, and the deletion of many of those tracks that couldn’t be matched. All told, Dalrymple lost around 4,700 songs from his music library, and others pointed out similar losses.
Multitasking on iPads gets even better with the arrival of iOS 9
If you had an iPad Air, iPad Air 2, or second- or third-generation iPad mini, multitasking got quite a bit better for you with the installation of iOS 9. New features included Split View, allowing two different apps to be open at the same time and Slide Over, which allows you to open a second app without leaving the one you’re in. Finally, Picture in Picture will scale a video down in size while you respond to an email or do something else, letting you keep watching your video while you work. Unfortunately, these new multitasking features are neither perfect nor supported by all apps. Notably, the new Apple Music app still doesn’t support the new multitasking features, leaving us to wonder just how serious Cupertino is about the experience its native apps provide.
Malware sneaks into the App Store in a big way
On Sept. 20, we learned that thousands of iOS programs on the App Store had been infected with malware known as XcodeGhost. Early reports suggested this was a worldwide epidemic, but we soon learned it was limited to the Chinese App Store. The whole débâcle came about because Chinese developers had downloaded a fake copy of the Xcode programming environment necessary for building binaries for the App Store, retrieving that version for the benefit of faster downloads. Apple responded by yanking the infected builds of apps and devoting a dedicated server to the Chinese population for downloading the Xcode programming library.
Even though the impact was limited to Greater China, this was a major strike against Cupertino because it showed that the “walled garden” that is supposed to be the App Store isn’t as impenetrable to malware as it is supposed to be.
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus 3D Touch us
On Sept. 25, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus arrived with the typical long lines and even a robot waiting in the queue in the place of its owner. The new handsets came with an innovative new set of features under the moniker 3D Touch, making it even easier to do things with your iPhones than before. Thanks to 3D Touch, developers can now enable deep-presses on the devices to bring up Quick Actions right from the Home screen, allowing you to launch into specific portions of apps without navigating through the menus. Peek and Pop provide even more functionality, and the addition of Live Photos caught our attention.
We finally get an Apple TV App Store
Hot on the heels of the newest iPhone handsets, Cupertino began accepting orders for an updated Apple TV on Oct. 26. The hottest feature of the new set-top box was something Apple TV fans had been demanding for years: a dedicated App Store. Finally, the former hobbyist device is a contender for taking over your home entertainment needs, as some of the best games and other apps in the industry are available to download directly to your Apple TV along with the requisite fare of media consumption options.
Once again, unfortunately, the new device’s launch wasn’t all roses and puppy dogs. While the new set-top box is great, it lacks 4K video support and the iOS Remote app wouldn’t work with the Apple TV until a December update. There’s still no sign of Bluetooth keyboard support, something that continues to frustrate a number of users, including me.
The long-awaited iPad Pro debuts
Its existence was widely speculated upon, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was finally available for order on Nov. 11. Once again, the launch failed to go as smoothly as we would have liked, with Cupertino experiencing dramatic shipping delays for both of the heavily promoted accessories, the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. These accessory shortages marred the opening sales considerably. Even as of this writing, the Apple Pencil is showing shipping availability of four to five weeks. If you want a Smart Keyboard, it will take three to four weeks to get one.
Cupertino begins development of an Apple Car
Plenty of speculation has surrounded some mysterious hires and acquisitions in the automotive sector by Apple, leading some of us to believe that Cupertino is working on its own smart car. Steve Wozniak said he was hopeful that Apple would take on Tesla, and we wondered what a company called SixtyEight Research, which seems to have an extensive repair garage even though it’s supposedly a market research firm, might have to do with Apple. Is Apple building its own car, or just developing technology for existing auto makers to integrate in their own vehicles? It’s yet another mystery that hasn’t been fully unearthed yet, though we’re sure to hear more about it in 2016.
Cutting the cord becomes a reality thanks to HBO Now, followed by Showtime Anytime
The problem with cord-cutting was the lack of good options for getting premium channels like HBO and Showtime without a cable television subscription. First out of the gate to address that problem was HBO Now, in April, launching across multiple Apple devices to allow cord-cutters to subscribe to the premium channel without the need for a cable subscription. “Game of Thrones” fans rejoiced, as did many others, but that wasn’t all of the news for cord-cutters in 2015. In July, Showtime Anytime began allowing consumers to watch its own premium offerings with or without a cable TV subscription. Great news for cord-cutters, and we are hoping that 2016 will see even more offerings.
We get a new Macbook with innovative features
Finally, 2015 was the year of the revival of the Macbook. The new 12-inch Macbook, announced in March, came with a number of innovations, including the introduction of Force Touch on a notebook computer. Thanks to Force Touch, you can click on a phrase and have it automatically open in Wikipedia, or Force Click an address to have it open up a map of that location. State-of-the-art batteries contour the inside of the computer, allowing it to run all day with up to nine hours of wireless Web use or as many as 10 hours of iTunes movie playback.
The drawback to the new Macbook is a lack of regular USB connectors, since Apple chose to include only a single USB-C connector that supports power, displays, storage devices, and more. This meant the need for adapters to use existing USB solutions, since the newer USB-C technology hasn’t been widely adopted as of yet.
Apple made quite a few hits in 2015, and also had a few misses. What were your favorite Apple stories of 2015?