Apple’s hardware and OS refreshes for Mac, iPad and iPhone have become highly-anticipated annual events. You could say this was an even more landmark year than usual though, with the 12″ MacBook, iPad Pro, a long-awaited new Apple TV, plus brand new ventures into the world of wearables and music streaming in the form of Apple Watch and Apple Music.
MacBook and more
While it was all quiet on the Mac Pro front this year, all eyes were on new Mac on the block, the 12″ MacBook, in March 2015. Thinner and lighter than MacBook Air, it features a brand new faster Intel Core M processor, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 512GB of flash storage and a swanky 2304×1440 resolution Retina display. It also features a new edge-to-edge keyboard design, a Force Touch trackpad and sports just one USB type-C port and a headphone jack. Oh, and it was also the first MacBook model to be available in gold, which is great if you need your notebook to match your neckwear.
As well as the new 12″ MacBook, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro also got a refresh at the Spring Forward event. With new fifth-gen Intel processors giving a significant speed boost, a Retina display, and more efficient storage architecture, the 13″ MacBook Pro now also features Apple’s latest Force Touch TrackPad too, as announced on the 12″ MacBook.
There was good news for iMac users in 2015 too. As well as getting bumped up to Retina 4K display with 4096 x 2304 resolution, the new 21.5″ models also feature new colour display technology that widens their colour gamut by 25% and include Intel’s Broadwell processors.
On to September’s Hey Siri event, which focuses on mobile devices, and there was a whole raft of new iOS goodness. Analysts and Apple fans had been predicting this was the event that Tim Cook would unveil a new, bigger iPad Pro, and they weren’t disappointed. The largest iPad to date, iPad Pro features a stunning 12.9″ Retina display, 5.6 million pixels, the latest iOS and new 64-bit A9X chip, giving it enough power to rival most portable PCs.
iPad mini also got a face lift, with a new 18% thinner (at just 6.1mm) profile, and slightly lighter, and is powered by a new A8 processor chip, finally bringing it in line with the power of iPad Air.
iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
It didn’t take Nostradamus to predict that Apple may continue their run of annual iPhone refreshes at the Hey Siri event in September and, true to form, they unveiled iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, while discontinuing the colourful iPhone 5c. As Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said at the time:
“The only thing that has changed with iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is everything – 3D Touch lets users interact with iPhone in entirely new and fun ways, and the innovative Live Photos brings your pictures to life. These are the most advanced iPhones ever, with 7000 series aluminum, ion-strengthened glass, the new 64-bit A9 chip, 12 megapixel iSight and 5 megapixel FaceTime HD cameras, faster Touch ID, LTE and Wi-Fi. Customers are going to love them.”
OS X El Capitan and iOS 9
Back at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2015, the assembled crowds of devs were treated to first glimpses of both the new Mac operating system, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and Apple’s mobile OS for iPad and iPhone, iOS 9.
The focus of OS X 10.11 El Capitan was really on user experience, with new gestures, improvements to Safari and a new, more powerful Spotlight. A few of the new features we’ve found most useful in El Capitan have been: being able to shake your mouse or a finger on the trackpad to locate your cursor; Split View in full-screen mode; being able to pin tabs in Safari; swiping to delete messages in Mail and muting individual tabs in Safari.
iOS 9 meanwhile, saw Siri become 40% more accurate and 40% faster, with new additions like starting your music player when you plug in your headphones, adding invitations to your calendar automatically, and advising you on the time it will take to get to a meeting based on realtime traffic info. She can even suggest who a caller might be by trawling your email for phone numbers hidden in email signatures. Other highlights included Apple Pay, meaning you can now pay for a coffee with your iPhone, better battery life, the News app replacing Newsstand, and more.
It had been three years since Apple updated their standalone set-top box, so Apple TV was well due an upgrade when the all new model was announced in November 2015. Apple TV now has its very own App Store (which, as of December 2015, features BBC iPlayer, which is very welcome news for anyone in the UK), plus a brand new touchpad remote with Siri integration. There’s now support for games too, using the touchpad remote as a game controller. You can also pick up a very fetching Wii-style optional strap for more active gaming, or serious gamers can opt for a third-party MFi game controller.
And the rest…
Earlier in the year, health, fitness and fashion freaks welcomed Apple Watch with open arms. Apple’s first wearable let users track fitness, receive notifications, messages and mail directly from their wrist, and came with a number of different options (we’re still holding out for an Apple Watch Edition from a very loving relative this Christmas). It then got an update to its operating system at WWDC, watchOS 2, which was paired with WatchKit, a set of tools allowing developers access to hardware and software to create native Apple Watch apps.
The same conference also saw Apple unveil a new music streaming service, Apple Music. As well as listening to your own iTunes library, you can stream any of the 30 million songs Apple has access to, or listen to carefully curated playlists based on your tastes.
Anything we missed that was top of your Apple list in 2015? Anything you’d like to see from Apple in 2016? Let us know in the comments below…