Just like in 2011 and 2012, 2013 was an exciting year for 9to5Mac in terms of leaks, exclusive stories, and breaking news. This year was interesting however because there was considerable doubt cast at many of the stories we’d broke which added some entertainment into the mix. Below, we break down our biggest stories of the year by product type:
iPad Air 2
We kicked off the year reporting that Apple would soon expand the fourth-generation iPad with Retina display line to include a model with 128GB of storage. This product would be aimed at education, business, and enterprise customers who use the iPad to store and view large files. Of course, this surprise launch came with some doubt from industry watchers:
There’s very little to the rumor, beyond the fact that 9to5Mac have “gotten word from sources” that a 128GB iPad is going to be slotted in alongside the current 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models. According to the rumor, the iPad wouldn’t be a new model, but instead an update of the existing iPad 4.
Apple® today announced a 128GB* version of the fourth generation iPad® with Retina® display. The 128GB iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular models provide twice the storage capacity of the 64GB models to hold even more valuable content including photos, documents, projects, presentations, books, movies, TV shows, music and apps.
Later in January, we posted the first photos of the fifth-generation iPad, which would launch a whopping 10 months later in early November. These photos indicated that Apple would shrink down the size of the full-sized iPad, thin the bezels, and bring over the design aesthetics from the iPad mini.
Even with nearly the same design as 2012’s iPhone 5, the iPhone 5s was a significant update to Apple’s flagship phone line. We reported on several details about the new phone, including information about new camera software, internal chipsets, design, and, of course, the Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor.
In August, we received confirmation that the iPhone 5s would come in a new gold color option. We also reported that the new iPhone would include a fingerprint scanner (see our own Michael Steeber’s mockup above) primarily for unlocking the device, not for a Passbook-integrated payments system:
Many people, including analysts, speculated that the potential fingerprint scanner will be used for payments/Passbook purposes. However, back in August when we received reliable confirmation that Apple is planning to include a fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5S, we learned that the scanner will not be used for payments. We understand, instead, that the fingerprint scanner will be built as a passcode replacement for unlocking the iPhone. The process is said to be simple. To unlock the iPhone with the fingerprint reader, an iPhone 5S user simply clicks and holds their finger/thumb down on the sensor for a few seconds. It is unlikely that the sensor login and passcode could be used in tandem. There will be a preference in the iPhone’s Settings app to disable the sensor.
In addition to the fingerprint sensor, Apple’s iPhone 5s camera included both new hardware and software. We had reported on the phone’s most, perhaps, most exciting new camera feature, a slow-motion mode:
We have discovered that Apple is designing a new iPhone camera feature called “Mogul” mode. A mogul is defined as “a powerful person in a media industry,” making the word a perfect codename (or even a marketing name) for a new iPhone camera feature. The discovery, shared with us by Hamza Sood, comes by way of hidden references inside of the latest iOS 7 betas. According to our analysis and testing of the code, “Mogul” is a feature in development that allows the iPhone to capture video at an exceptionally fast and precise rate. Specifically, our testing indicates that the feature can allow the iPhone to record video at a rate of 120 frames-per-second (FPS).
Despite considerable doubt:
Yet Gurman actually isn’t certain – nor apparently are his sources – that the next iPhone will have a 64-bit processor, saying only that “it’s been in testing.”
Neither Morris’ tweets nor Gurman’s post actually connects what may be two separate and unrelated developments.
But that didn’t stop bloggers from going much further in their own speculation, using phrases like “reportedly” and “is expected” to suggest much more concreteness than actually exists. VentureBeat’s headline was “Apple reportedly debuting 64-bit A7 chips for upcoming iPhone 5S.” That post by Dean Takahashi was based on Morris’ tweet and Gurman’s post: “The A7 processor is expected to operate on 64-bit code and will have two brains known as cores.”
…our report that the iPhone 5s would be the first smartphone on the market with a 64-bit processor also came true:
We’ve independently heard claims that some of the iPhone 5S internal prototypes include 64-bit processors. It’s unclear if 64-bit will make the cut, but it’s been in testing. We’re told that the 64-bit processing will assist the A7 chip in making animations, transparencies, and other iOS 7 graphical effects appear much more smoothly than on existing iOS Devices. It’s likely that the upcoming fifth-generation iPad will gain the same chip, if not a more advanced one to support the additional pixels.
Interestingly, after the 64-bit claim became reality, some Apple pundits claimed(chowdered?) that we “spitballed” it. Also despite considerable doubt, we reported that Apple – once again – would be working with both partner and enemy Samsung on components of the processor.
iOS 7 is Apple’s most significant software update to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to date, and 9to5Mac provided every piece of leaked information about the system before its WWDC 2013 debut. We reported that iOS 7 would include a brand-new, flatter design led by Apple Senior VP of Design Jony Ive:
According to multiple people who have either seen or have been briefed on the upcoming iOS 7, the operating system sports a redesigned user-interface that will be attractive to new iOS users, but potentially unsettling for those who are long-accustomed to the platform. The new interface is said to be “very, very flat,” according to one source. Another person said that the interface loses all signs of gloss, shine, and skeuomorphism seen across current and past versions of iOS. Another source framed the new OS as having a level of “flatness” approaching recent releases of Microsoft’s Windows Phone “Metro” UI.
- Completely redesigned icon set
- Revamped Lock screen with circular PIN numbers
- Notes, Mail, Game Center, Calendar and other apps with white interfaces and distinctive (by color) navigation controls
- Revamped Weather application with animations
- Blur and transparency effects
- Motion parallax that moves app icons on the Home screen
- Passbook app without the shredder animation
- Newsstand with glass interface, not wooden shelf
- Standalone FaceTime app
- New tabs view in Safari on iPhone
- Keyboard color is lighter in texture
- Panorama wallpapers
- Panel to quickly adjust WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode and other controls
We reported that iOS 7 will integrate further with Yahoo via Flickr and allow video uploading to Vimeo. We also said AirDrop would make an appearance throughout iOS 7, and that the system would further integrate Maps and Siri with Cars.
The night before WWDC, we published additional details about iOS 7, including mockups of the new icon set (our mockups above). Here’s Apple’s iOS 7 announcement video:
It seems that those who claimed all the leaks were wrong were the ones actually… in the wrong. We’ve also since reported that iOS 8 development is already underway and that functionality changes will be heavily present in the Maps application. In addition to information about consumer-facing features in the new iOS, we published a series of reports detailing new functionality for developers and Apple partners:
- Honda to deeply integrate new iOS 7 technologies, including iOS-in-the-Car
- Details about new motion, text-to-speech, and maps APIs
- Significant changes to the way that apps can handle audio-related tasks
- iOS 7 to unlock full Bluetooth access for accessories such as third-party smart watches
- Significant changes for developers with Game Center-compatible apps
- New for accessory makers in iOS 7: Open AirPlay audio, Apple-designed hearing aid tech, device management, much more
In addition to details about Apple’s mobile operating system, we reported the lion’s share of details regarding Apple’s new OS X. Perhaps the only surprise was the name: Mavericks, a California surf spot. We reported that the update would not be a major shift from its predecessors, mostly focusing on improvements for power-users and integration with iOS:
- Minor user-interface tweaks
- Finder tagging system
- Safari-like tabs for Finder
- Faster Safari engine
- Maps integration
- Improved power, graphics, and battery life efficiency due to new under-the-hood technologies
- Improved multiple monitor support
- Xcode 5.0
Of course, here’s what Apple announced for Mavericks at WWDC:
In early September, we reported that Mavericks would be released at the end of October. Later in 2013, we reported that Apple is already at work on a successor to Mavericks. The new system, internally named Syrah, will include a significant user-interface changes.
2013 was a significant year for Apple Retail in terms of both leadership changes and retail initiatives, and 9to5Mac provided several stories about these changes:
- Apple CEO Tim Cook internal letter about future Senior VP of Retail Angela Ahrendts (interview above about the move)
- Apple to revamp its iPhone sales tactics in order to boost smartphone sales through its stores
- Apple to begin in-store iPhone-trade-in program
- Apple to equip its stores with iBeacon location-based technology
- Apple’s Back to School program to include $50 gift cards with iPhone purchases
- Apple’s Black Friday special to be gift cards, not discounts
- Apple Store iPhone/iPod touch application to gain free iTunes content offerings
- Apple poaches Senior VP from Levi’s to run West Coast retail operations
Besides news stories, 9to5Mac writers compiled many interesting long-form feature articles this year:
- The inside track on how content makers, such as Bloomberg TV, create their applications for the Apple TV
- In light of Apple working on a smart watch, the connects between Apple’s leadership and watches
- An in-depth look at Apple’s development of an “iWatch,” along with who is working on the product and what sensors it will feature
- An expose of Apple retail employees and their use of social media to vent frustrations from work
Besides significant product launches, Apple also was home to some significant leadership changes this year and shifting internal dynamics:
- Henri Lamiraux, Apple’s Vice President of iOS engineering, told us that he is retiring
- Apple hired Ben Shaffer, a lead designer in Nike’s R&D labs to work on wearable technologies
- Apple hired Jay Blahnik to consult on the iWatch project
- Details from Apple’s January Town Hall meeting, Tim Cook discusses China, Android, Retail, and more
- Tim Cook to give employees Thanksgiving week off
While 2013 was a significant year for Apple, CEO Tim Cook already has promised that 2014 will be even stronger with ‘new product categories’ that may include forays into wearables and expanded TV capabilities. We’re excited to cover Apple throughout the next year, and we look forward to providing our readers the latest interesting information reliably and first.