Like all major technology companies, Apple faced coronavirus-related delays in 2020, but managed to release a number of products as they entered new categories. And Apple also redefined the virtual event for the rest of the technology industry.
On the surface, the highlight of the year was the new lineup of four iPhone 12 handset, but the bigger news was Apple’s new M1 chip, when the company withdrew from Intel while showing Windows laptop manufacturers how to do ARM-based computing properly. Apple also responded quite well to a challenging economy by delivering more value-focused products, albeit ultra-premium AirPods Max $ 550 headphones made many people scratch their heads.
Apple did not excel in all areas, as the ongoing battle with developers ̵
Apple’s peak in 2020
Apple’s virtual events
While there is something special about attending an Apple event in person, there was no sign of delivering polish, gravitas and (yes) fun as Apple did with its virtual events in 2020.
I got a kick out of how Apple would change the location of each pre-recorded segment, such as zooming in on what looked like a secret lab to discuss the new A14 Bionic chip.
Between Tim Cook, Craig Federighi, Greg Joswiak and others who take turns talking, advanced animations and the overall pace, Apple’s presentations made you feel like you were there live – and it’s a pretty impressive achievement. They even filmed Lisa Jackson (VP of Environment, Politics and Social Initiatives) on the roof of the new Apple campus, next to the company’s solar panels.
Apple’s game-changing M1 chip
2020 will be remembered as the year Apple Silicon came to Mac, and for a splash it has proven to be. Apple’s M1 chip delivered fantastic performance on both MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1, as well as the new Mac Mini. In fact, the MacBook Air is so fast compared to competing Windows laptops that this $ 999 laptop may be “Pro” enough for most buyers.
The other big story with M1 chip is battery life. The MacBook Air lasted an average of 14 hours and 41 minutes on our surfing battery test. MacBook Pro lasted 16:32. The last Dell XPS 13 lasts a little over 11 hours.
iPhone 12 takes the crown
Apple made the smartphone war a bit boring in 2020, when no other phones came close to beating the new quartet with handsets. Thanks to Apple’s computational photography capability, iPhone 12 Pro Max rose to the top of spring best phone list and best camera phone list. The other iPhone 12 models deliver equally superb image quality.
The A14 Bionic chip is another highlight, as this 5nm processor blew the doors of every Android phone References for iPhone 12. Apple made the iPhone 12 slimmer and tougher with a new Ceramic Shield screen. The iPhone 12 battery life may be better, but overall Samsung Galaxy S20, Google Pixel 5 and other competitors were left in the dust.
In a weak year for the economy, Apple did a rather remarkable job of responding with products that delivered on value. $ 399 iPhone SE is the best example of Apple reading in space. It has a fast A13 Bionic processor in a compact design, along with excellent photo quality and wireless charging. $ 279 Apple Watch SE is another good value, as it offers all the key features people look for in a smartwatch, including a spacious Retina display, exercise tracking and fall detection.
Last but not least, $ 99 HomePod mini delivers superb sound quality for the small size, and I like that you can take your iPhone up to the speaker to make the HomePod start playing automatically.
Finally, you get proper widgets and customization in iOS 14
With iOS 14, Apple has helped iPhone owners create a truly personalized interface. You can place several types of widgets on the home screen, resize them as you like, and place them wherever you want. You can also easily add a smart stack of widgets and browse them quickly with a swipe, whether you want to look at your favorite photos, skim for news headlines or check your calendar or shares.
The other big upgrade is that you can create custom icons in iOS 14 for a truly unique look. We have a whole guide on how to create custom iPhone widgets and icons in iOS 14 to customize your experience. You just need to get acquainted with iOS shortcuts.
A great Apple TV Plus show by Ted Lasso
Apple TV Plus has many shows that are not convincing (see See), but Ted Lasso has become a hit for the streaming service. Its rating on Rotten Tomatoes is an amazing 90%, and Apple has already confirmed a season 3.
Ted Lasso follows the companies of a Division 2 college football coach who is recruited to be the manager of the English Premier League football club AFC Richmond, and his relentless positivity is charming and contagious. Our own Henry T. Casey calls Ted Lasso the perfect Apple TV Plus show: “From his healthy and authentic smile to every single one of his jokes, Lasso will melt bad mood even after the longest day.”
Apple’s downturns in 2020
Where are 2-in-1 laptops?
One of the best things about macOS Big Sur is that you can easily download iPhone and iPad apps – including games – and run them right on your desktop. There are many great titles now also in the Mac App Store. But none of them work with touch screens because Apple still refuses to offer one.
Yes it iPad Pro is a great productivity tool, but many Mac customers want a laptop first and a tablet, not the other way around. A true 2-in-1 Mac laptop will give users the very best in versatility, and Apple can finally pull back the largely vestigial Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro.
Refuses to embrace USB-C
We knew the iPhone 13 would not embrace USB-C, but we did not feel better when the phones landed. For some reason, Apple continues to stick to quick connectors for the phones and even for the new AirPods Max, while USB-C generally delivers more power faster. Apple already uses USB-C on MacBook, iPad Pro and the iPad Air.
So what gives? Apple makes lots of money selling cables and accessories that use the proprietary Lightning port, and also receives licensing fees from third parties. So it is very possible that iPhone 13 also skips USB-C. In fact, it is rumored that Apple is working on at least one portless model for the iPhone 13 line that would probably use MagSafe wireless for charging.
Epic Games fiasco
There does not seem to be a solution to this match in sight, but a court date is reportedly set for May 3, 2021. In the meantime, players are the ones who really lose.
No charger in the iPhone 12 box
Listen, I get it. Do not charge a charger in the iPhone 12 box helps the environment as it leads to much less electronic waste. Yes, many people already have chargers at home that will work with the iPhone 12.
But if you want to charge at the fastest speeds, you have to run for your own 20W USB charger ($ 19), which makes iPhone 12s prices misleading. If you want to try MagSafe wireless charging, you have to skip the $ 39 charger plus the cost of the $ 19 power stone. Boo.