Apple announced Jony Ive, its longtime chief designer, will be leaving the company to start his own design firm.
After more than 20 years at Apple, Sir Jony Ive will leave to form his own firm, called LoveFrom. Ive said the name was inspired by Steve Jobs, who said he was motivated to build things with love and care even though the customer will probably never meet the person who made the product.
There's a lot of speculation about how Apple will perform without Ive leading its product designs, but there's good reason to believe Ive's departure is actually a good thing.
Apple gave new life to the iPad, in the form of its very own operating system.
Ever since the very first iPad, Apple's tablets have had to obey the rules of the iPhone's operating system, despite the two devices serving very different needs.
At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, though, the company finally emancipated the iPad from the rules of the iPhone. From now on, the iPad will run on its own operating system, called iPadOS.
Read more: The iPad just had its best day ever
The first iPadOS will behave similarly to iOS 13, which is the new operating system coming to iPhones later this year. But even the first iteration of iPadOS looks promising: It will finally have native support for USB accessories, including storage devices and SD cards, and it will also offer a full desktop browser experience, and even mouse support! Apple has also been working hard to make the Files system better on the iPad, so it will be easy to browse and collaborate on documents even if they're on a work server. The future looks very bright for the iPad, and the announcement of iPadOS made it all possible.
Dark Mode is finally coming to the iPhone.
iOS 13, coming to iPhones later this year, will finally introduce a long-requested feature: a system-wide Dark Mode.
All of Apple's apps, including Music, Reminders, Mail, and Photos, can all be affected by Dark Mode. Apple also built developer tools to make it extremely easy for third-party apps to implement their own dark mode. Starting later this year, using your iPhone, especially at night, should be much easier on the eyes.
Apple is finally embracing video games.
Apple announced at its March event that it's been working with game developers on a new service called Apple Arcade.
Apple Arcade games don't have microtransactions, or ads to rely on revenue. All of their features are included by default. Also, every Apple Arcade game will be playable offline, so you don't need an internet connection to play.
Apple Arcade games will be playable on any iPhone, iPad, Mac computer, and notably the Apple TV, with the ability to switch between devices and automatically pick up where you left off. But there's a special incentive to play these games on Apple TV: That device will support third-party gamepads, including the popular PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers, meaning you can play Apple's games on controllers that you're more familiar with.
Apple canceled AirPower, its wireless-charging mat that debuted two years ago.
AirPower was designed to automatically recognize your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods, and charge them all simultaneously — even being smart enough to charge one device faster if it senses it has less battery life than the others.
AirPower was announced in 2017, with the intention to release the accessory in 2018, but the entire year went by and we heard nothing about it. References to AirPower were quietly removed from Apple's website. But after AirPower showed up on the packaging of Apple's second-generation AirPods, many people thought its release would be imminent.
Unfortunately, Apple had the opposite intentions. In late March, it announced it was killing AirPower. The cancellation of an Apple product was embarrassing, and in many ways, unprecedented. But it's probably for the best that Apple recognized the accessory's many issues and pulled the plug instead of investing even more time and resources into the charging mat.
Apple introduced its own credit card, called the Apple Card.
On March 25, Apple took its vision for Apple Pay one step further by partnering with a pair of financial institutions (Goldman Sachs and Mastercard) to offer a brand-new credit card.
Apple's credit card, appropriately named Apple Card, brings the company's trademark simplicity to the credit-card system. Not only does the card look different from other credit cards out there, but Apple also reimagined the system for paying, payments, and rewards.
The Apple Card, which will live in Apple's Wallet app, uses machine learning and Apple Maps to transform difficult-to-understand transactions into easy-to-understand purchases, with the ability to also track your spending by date or category to see how it changes from month to month. Apple also reimagined how rewards work: Instead of getting "points," where you're uncertain how much value they actually have, Apple gives you what it calls "Daily Cash," so you can see exactly how much money you're getting with each purchase.
Apple's retail chief Angela Ahrendts left the company.
The former Burberry CEO had a five-year run as Apple's head of retail stores, but decided to leave to embark on "new personal and professional pursuits," according to the company.
During her time at Apple, Ahrendts debuted new communication tools to help employees stay up-to-date on Apple news and share tips and tricks with each other, as well as instituted the "town hall" feel of Apple stores, where employees and guests would hold sessions to teach customers about Apple tools or their creative process.
Ahrendts' replacement will be Deirdre O'Brien, a 30-year veteran of Apple who previously ran the company's human resources division. Her new role is called "senior VP of Retail + People."
In the new Mac Pro, Apple finally released a desktop workstation that's suitable for professionals.
In 2017, Apple's leadership sat down with a handful of journalists to talk about how it planned to address the needs of its professional customers. In recent years, the company had received a lot of flak from pro users about tools, including software but particularly hardware, that was more expensive but less capable than the competition. The previous-generation Mac Pro was one off the main sticking points of the argument, since it was overpriced and difficult to upgrade.
Apple finally addressed those issues this year when it announced a new Mac Pro, a modular desktop computer that was designed with the most demanding computational tasks in mind, as well as a new pro display to go along with it.
The new Mac Pro won't be available until later this year, but it has the beefiest internals we've ever seen, at a rather reasonable starting price of $6,000. Not having a suitable desktop for professionals left a huge void in Apple's product lineup, but being able to deliver such an impressive and powerful computer means Apple's design should last a long time.
An array of Apple announcements at its annual conference, WWDC, laid the groundwork for a pair of smart glasses.
Augmented reality, or AR, lets you see and manipulate virtual elements in the real world; this technology is expected to be the centerpiece of Apple's rumored smart glasses, which have reportedly been in development for years. And toward the end of Apple's two-hour WWDC keynote, Apple announced a series of developer tools designed for building augmented-reality experiences.
Apple's new tools are designed to help app developers make more convincing and better-looking augmented-reality experiences, including realistic animation effects and photo-realistic rendering. It's the perfect setup for a piece of hardware that can leverage this technology, and reports say Apple is expected to mass-produce a pair of smart-glasses "in the middle of next year."
Apple made a ton of other announcements this year.
While these weren't the biggest announcements of the year, they certainly made some waves among fans and customers:
- Apple announced the fifth-generation iPad Mini, which supports Apple Pencil for the first time.
- Apple introduced a new iPad Air, which is powered by the A12 Bionic chip that also runs the iPhone XS and XR.
- Apple updated its MacBook Pro, which can now be configured with a beefy 8-core processor. (Maxing it out will be costly, though.)
- Apple updated the MacBook Air with a True Tone display, and dropped its starting price by $100.
- Apple dropped the 12-inch MacBook from its lineup entirely.
- Apple lowered prices for built-in storage across its Mac computers.
- Apple introduced its second-generation AirPods, which support wireless charging.
- Apple promoted Sabih Khan, one of Tim Cook's top lieutenants, to be the company's new senior vice president of operations.