At long last, here we are at the very end of this exceptional and historic year, 2020. We’re not out of the woods yet but Apple is done with 2020. Here are the ten best things from Apple in 2020.
1. The start of the transition to Apple Silicon
Without a doubt, Apple’s transition to its own chips for its Mac product line is the most significant moment of 2020 for Apple. Called the M1, this powerful and power-efficient CPU is transformative not only for the Mac but probably for the industry. The performance per watt ratio level achieved by the M1 has never been so profoundly liberating. Looking at the upcoming year is certainly promising for the transition still unfolding on the Mac. As they say, Apple is only getting started with this transition.
2. One More Thing Special Event
The “One More Thing” special event was the fourth of a series in 2020 that started with the WWDC conference. It wasn’t the first time Apple used that tag line for a special event. Not all announcements made under the « one more thing » label were as transformative as this year’s announcements. A whole keynote was mandatory for what Apple had to show us. The announcements made will be remembered for years to come. Apple started its transition to its own Apple Silicon with a big bang. With the M1 chip, Apple steered the vessel in a direction where it will be hard for competing platforms to catch up. Good luck to Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm et al.
3. WWDC 2020 special event
As the pandemic became official and the first wave came in, we knew we were bound to have an unexpected year. By going digital-only, WWDC started a new trend for Apple and probably for the tech industry. As I wrote in “WWDC2020 — My Observations and a Survey of Comments”, WWDC was a great special event marking the start of a new direction for Apple’s Mac product line. The transition to Apple Silicon got official but without much detail. Only later in the year, we got all the details.
4. “Hi, Speed” special event
The third digital special event was all about the iPhone 12 lineup release. In my article “The iPhone 12 Moment”, I wrote about the lack of surprises, but the production quality of the event was showing Apple at the top of the hill. Apple Park makes a great filming set and I cannot get enough of it. With this tag line, Apple could have used this event to announce its first crop of Apple Silicon Macs. Instead, the speed references, and there were many of them in the event, was for the 5G network.
5. Product launches and software releases
Many were expecting a challenging year for Apple but they managed to release one of their best product rollouts in recent years. Besides a delayed iPhone 12 launch, COVID-19 didn’t have much apparent impact on the release schedule of products, be it software or hardware. All in all, Apple released meaningful updates to all of its product lines. Some announcements were made via simple press releases; others got their special moments. iOS 14 brings back stability but the iPad will have to wait to get more specific features. Tim Cook’s Apple never ceases to impress when it comes to operational efficiency and how quickly they can adapt to external market conditions. Consider me impressed.
6. Time Flies special event
Apple started its fall products launch with the Apple Watch annual update (my thoughts about the events). It wasn’t a breakthrough update, yet I decided to upgrade from my Series 4. Of note are the surprise release of iOS 14 and an updated iPad Air. The fourth-generation iPad Air gathered rave reviews for being a powerful iPad at a much lower price than the 11 inches iPad Pro.
7. iOS 13.4 + Mouse Support + Magic Keyboard
Who knew a “dot release” of iPadOS as more transformative than any significant new revision like iOS 14. It’s precisely what iPadOS 13.4 was for the iPad. At long last, Apple seems determined to push the iPad as a real portable replacement. With iPadOS 13.4 and mouse support, Apple made it possible to add new interaction models without transforming the original iPad design. It’s a tour-de-force. The Magic Keyboard for the iPad was an instant buy for me, and I wrote my thoughts on this transformative accessory.
8. Environmental actions, privacy protection promotion and social measures
There are so many reasons why I love Apple as a company. Not only do they release great physical products, but I also share many of their corporate values. Their stance on privacy protection is mandatory to stand against Facebook. Their actions to limit their footprint on the environment are examples for others to follow. Their politics on social inclusion is a stark contrast to American society in general. Finally, I’d like to put COVID-19 measures the company put forward to protect people in general, including not only their employees but their customers. We never feel hesitation from Apple when it comes for Apple to putting human first, business second. It is remarkable.
9. iPad Air with A14 Bionic chip
This year’s iPad Air update may look strange when comparing it to the current iPad Pro line. I’m happy to see iPad Pro design language come down in the iPad product line. I’m even more delighted to see that this update should be seen as a signal that Apple has much more in store for the iPad Pro in the future. Otherwise, the iPad Pro line as it is standing now doesn’t make sense. Next year’s release of the iPad Pro should prove to be very interesting.
10. Apple One Launch
With Apple One service bundle, Apple’s vision of a highly integrated ecosystem comes to fruition. Only a tight integration between hardware, software and services makes it all possible. The best exemplification of this is their Fitness+ service, which depends on the Apple Watch for it to work. I didn’t hesitate to upgrade to Apple One services bundle as it makes me save a few hundred dollars a year in return for Apple Arcade and Fitness+, two services I wasn’t subscribing to before. Speaking of Fitness+, I gave it a try. And I loved it.
Honourable mentions for iPhone 12 and the HomePod mini.
Make no mistake, the iPhone 12 lineup is massive but it’s mostly everything that was expected. That being said, ProRAW introduction that came with it is a game changer for professional photographers who lean more and more toward the iPhone for their needs. Yes, this is happening, slowly but surely. Ask Canon, Nikon et al. and have a look at their financial statements, you’ll see what I mean.
The HomePod mini was a small, oops, a mini surprise. Apple may have finally found a way to move the needle with its HomePod. All-in customers in Apple’s ecosystem will rejoice for sure. I bought two. I’m happy but I’m also being realistic. The HomePod mini is still a Siri speaker. Siri is still… Siri. Are you getting it? Because of that, I don’t think the HomePod mini is a notable addition in 2020 compared to the rest of the crop. Yet, I love them. 🤷🏻♂️