Tim Cook teased Apple’s product pipeline to investors back in October 2013 by saying the company would enter new categories with releases that fall and “across 2014.” This set the expectation that the next year would include new releases in each quarter rather than staying mostly quiet until WWDC in June, then saving new iPhones, iPads, and Macs for the fall.
Perhaps that was a promise better made a year later as most new products in 2014 were once again kept for the fall, but 2015 has been one where Apple has truly released new products all across the year. So many, in fact, that it’s probably difficult to recall every single new hardware and software product without referencing the history books.
At the start of the month, Apple released the SIM-free iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for the first time in the US. Then the year really kicked off with a polarizing new MacBook, equipped with only a single USB-C port, unveiled courtesy of Mark Gurman’s reporting a couple of months before being officially announced.
We also got an early look at the Apple Watch app plus rumored launch details including battery targets ahead of time. Toward the end of the month, Apple released iOS 8.1.3, which was notable for requiring less space to update, addressing a common complaint from 8 and 16GB devices.
- OS X 10.10.3 Pre-Release, first hands-on with Photos
Previously only demoed briefly on stage at WWDC and promised for “early next year,” Apple released the iPhoto-replacement app Photos with iCloud Photo Library in beta with the pre-release version of OS X 10.10.3. The second month is most memorable for the start of Apple Car rumors. Referenced internally as Project Titan, knowing that Apple is working on a Tesla-like electric vehicle became as mainstream as knowing that Apple was working on wearables for the Apple Watch was unveiled. Apple has treated the rumors exactly the same, not officially saying anything but letting the interest satisfy people who ask “what’s next?”
- Refreshed MacBook Pro 13 with Force Touch
- Refreshed MacBook Air
- iOS 8.2 with Apple Watch app, Health improvements
- iOS 8.3 Public Beta, first for iOS
- Apple TV 3 drops to $69
In March, Apple held its ‘Spring Forward’ event where it announced ResearchKit, officially revealed the 12″ MacBook, shared Apple Watch launch details, and dropped the Apple TV 3 to $69. Apple also refreshed the 13″ MacBook Pro with a Force Touch trackpad, and upgraded the MacBook Air internals. iOS 8.2 launched to include the Apple Watch app a month before the device became available, and iOS 8.3 Public Beta became the first version of the iPhone and iPad software to be tested outside of the developer program.
- Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Edition
- Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable (0.3, 1, 2m)
- MacBook (Early 2015, Retina)
- USB-C Charge Cable, 29W USB-C Power Adapter, USB-C to USB Adapter, USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter
- Final Cut Pro X, Motion, Compressor
- iOS 8.3 with diverse Emoji characters
- OS X 10.10.3 with Photos app
After two media events and more than six months of being hyped, Apple Watch finally launched in April, but orders were limited to online-only at first and several models wouldn’t ship for several weeks after others. Remember when Apple had only said $349 and up, and stainless steel was rumored to be priced at dramatically high prices? How’d you feel when you heard Apple Watch Edition would range $10,000-$17,000? Apple’s radical new MacBook also shipped in silver, space gray, and gold, and mine’s still holding up well. A single USB-C port wasn’t the end of the world after all.
Apple’s video production apps — Final Cut Pro X, Motion, and Compressor — got their big annual updates. iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3 shipped with a new Emoji character picker with multiple skin tones, and the Mac update included Photos for all users after the pre-release period.
By May, the Apple Watch was still an online-only purchase and launching in additional countries, but there were a few new Apple products in stores before WWDC. Apple updated the 15″ MacBook Pro with new internals and the same Force Touch trackpad found on the smaller notebook, and the 5K iMac introduced the previous fall got upgraded internals as well. The most significant new think of May was the smallest: Apple’s first Lightning Dock for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple previously sold a 5/5s Lightning Dock, but this new version was designed with bigger and better devices in mind.
WWDC kicked off in June where Apple previewed iOS 9, OS X 10.11, watchOS 2, and officially unveiled Apple Music for the first time. By the end of the month, iOS 8.4 and an update to iTunes was out with a 3-month free trial to Apple Music and access to Beats 1, Apple’s live streaming radio station. Apple Watches finally hit retail stores two months after the initial launch as well.
Apple didn’t launch any new hardware at WWDC, but it had some new gear ready the next month. After a couple of years without any real updates, Apple upgraded the iPod touch with new hardware colors including blue, pink, and gold and a much faster chip inside with a greatly improved camera. iPod shuffles and nanos also got tweaked with new colors to match. Previously saved for major music events in the fall, the long-awaited iPod lineup update was a press release and an update on Apple.com, but still got everyone talking about the music players for a few days.
Save for a couple of small software updates, August was generally quiet in terms of new releases from Apple. But being the month before iPhone season, rumors about pink iPhones with double cameras and debates about just what Force Touch on iPhones might mean were in full cycle. Mark pretty much nailed what we’d come to know as 3D Touch in his reporting.
- iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus
- iPad mini 4
- Protective Case, Smart Cover
- Apple Watch Sport in Gold and Rose Gold
- Sport band colors, Classic Buckle refresh and new color, Space Black with black Sport band
- iOS 9, 9.0.1, 9.0.2
- watchOS 2
- OS X 10.11
Then in September, Apple unloaded almost everything else it had planned for the year. Faster iPhones with new rose gold colors, larger iPads with digital styluses, an upgraded iPad mini, new Apple Watch Sport colors, and tons of new band colors for the fall, plus the new Apple TV. iOS 9 and watchOS 2 also shipped, but with a slight delay for the latter release. OS X 10.11 El Capitan also shipped to the public on the last day of the month, marking an earlier release than the last two cycles.
- Apple TV 4
- Siri Remote
- Magic Trackpad
- Magic Keyboard
- Magic Mouse
- First 21.5″ 4K iMac, updated 27.5″ 5K iMacs
- Beats Pill+
- Apple Watch Hermès
- SIM-Free iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
- iOS 9.1 with over 150 new Emoji
- watchOS 2.0.1
- OS X 10.11.1 with over 150 new Emoji
- iWork updates
Even without a separate media event like we’ve had in the past few years, October was a stacked month in terms of new products shipping and being revealed. The new Apple TV actually shipped (but on the last day of the month), the first 4K 21.5″ iMac was released, the 5K 27″ iMac was upgraded with a better display that shows more colors, and Apple upgraded its mouse and keyboard lineup. The Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 all gained Lightning ports for recharging their new internal batteries. We also saw the fist truly new hardware product out of Beats since Apple bought the speaker company. The Beats Pill+ debuted with its own app and a Lightning port for recharging.
- iPad Pro
- Protective Case, Smart Cover
- Apple Pencil
- Smart Keyboard
- Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock
- iPhone 6s Leather Case (PRODUCT)RED
Then in November the iPad Pro finally shipped, and sooner in the month than some had expected. What did not become readily available and still hasn’t yet is the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, the two accessories that only work with the new tablet. Just when everyone thought Apple was done for the year, Apple surprised us all with its first official Apple Watch dock that was previously unannounced.
- iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case
- Lightning to SD Card Reader
- iOS 9.2 with iPhone SD Card Reader support
- OS X 10.11.2
- tvOS 9.1 with Apple Music Siri
- watchOS 2.1 with Apple TV 4 Remote
Apple really surprised everyone at the end of the year by going out with a bang… or bump… and introducing its first iPhone battery case. Priced at $99 and curiously designed, the iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case (review) doesn’t work with Plus models and likely won’t fit next year’s iPhone 7, but it’s surely the first of many future power packs from Apple. Apple’s Lightning to SD Card Reader (review) got upgraded to USB 3 speeds for the faster iPad Pro, but otherwise looks nearly identical. Apple wrapped the year with a software update for each platform: iOS, OS X, watchOS, and tvOS. The iPhone got support for Apple’s camera adapters, Siri learned how to control Apple Music on Apple TV, and Apple’s Remote app on iOS and Apple Watch learned how to control the new Apple TV.
As we discuss on this week’s 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, 2015 ultimately turned out to be the year of the Apple accessories. Docks made a comeback, iPads got keyboard covers and digital styluses, iPhones got battery cases, and all those Apple Watch bands… Apple also did a fairly good job of pacing itself throughout the year with releases and news spanning the whole calendar year.
With Apple Watch 2, a 4-inch iPhone, and possibly an updated iPad Air in the cards for another spring event next year according to Mark Gurman’s reporting, 2016 looks to be an even more packed year for Apple releasing new hardware outside of the fall quarter. Compared to recent years, I personally quite like this new approach of seeing new and exciting announcements all across the year. My own prediction for 2016? I suspect we’ll see Apple Car rumors ramp up higher than ever. What do you think? Let us know below and tune in to this week’s episode of Happy Hour to hear our discussion on Apple in 2015.