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Apple's 10 best moments of 2015

Apple CEO, Tim Cook
Apple CEO, Tim Cook (Image credit: Future)
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Introduction

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

Few companies froth the Internet like Apple does. Hell, even the countdown to an Apple reveal turns the Internet into something like a New Year's party (except with Apple we wait for news from Cupertino, rather than Times Square).

And the reveals themselves invariably leave no blog, website, message board or chat room untouched. (Even your grandmother slides an iPhone gush into her "Cat Grooming Tips & Tricks" WordPress site.) At this point in history, Apple is the supreme grabber of consumer attention.

But 2015 saw Apple focusing just as hard on the business space, a territory usually dominated by its rival, Microsoft. It might be a more diverse strategy than the usually consumer focused company is used to, but it's still one designed to grab gobs of attention. With a year full of standout moments, Apple is proving it can dominate any online or off-line conversation, even your IT department's budget meeting.

1. E(nterprise)Pad

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

Big screen, big graphics, big business. The iPad Pro (opens in new tab), officially revealed in September, is directly aimed at business professionals, though consumers looking for a Netflix-and-browser device will have plenty to appreciate as well.

The Pro's huge screen and crystal clear display will naturally seduce plenty of creatives, but the Apple Pencil is what they'll retire to Boca with. Draw, shade, annotate, or just plain flick, the Pencil does it all.

Along with the Macbook-like (and that's a good thing) Smart Keyboard, presentations, pitches and reports will be easy to execute whether in an office or on-the-go.

Factor in their alliance with IBM and Cisco to develop additional functionality for the Pro, and Apple might finally have a work tablet that rivals its popular consumer-oriented iPad.

2. The eyes have it

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

Geared towards multi-tasking business professionals who will need both to open and see more than one window at a time, 2015's MacBook Pro (opens in new tab) is arguably the best Apple laptop to utilize its high-resolution, Retina-display capability.

Not only that, it's also Apple's most powerful laptop on the market – power that will come in handy when you want to run Netflix and Safari (sorry, Excel and PowerPoint) at the same time.

The other big news from the 2015 MacBook Pro's debut is the Force Touch trackpad, as it signals Apple's commitment to a haptic-feedback enabled touch experience on all its devices. The new trackpad and its I-can't-believe-it's-not-clicking feel may be Apple's biggest innovation of the year.

3. Music to your ears

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

Streaming music has always been the "next thing" for Apple, mainly because of the natural synergy it would have with the nearly ubiquitous iTunes. But news on streaming has been just that: it's always the "next thing" in the Apple queue.

That changed this summer with the launch of Apple Music (opens in new tab), the Cupertino company's big splash in the streaming music pool. The "next thing" is finally here: for $9.99 a month (the first three are free), Apple Music gives you 30 million when-you-want-them, where-you-want-them tracks and an invisible army of human DJ's to help sort them all out.

With 6.5 million paid subscribers since its June launch (fantastic growth when considering top dog Spotify has 20 million paid subscribers), Apple's new service just has to fix some UI and bug issues and it could be the next iTunes of streaming music.

4. The touch, the feel...of iPhone

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

From a distance, the September-released iPhone 6S (opens in new tab) looks like previous iPhone generations, but you have to put your finger on this iteration in order to see how different it is.

I'm talking about the 6S's new 3D touch, which allows you to "peek in" to an email, or a link in a message, or your favorite call list without having to open and close any applications. And as soon as third party app developers get time to play with it, this feature is sure to become an industry standard.

3D touch, along with a stable, bug free operating system, (courtesy of iOS 9) makes the 6S one of the most intuitive, easy-to-use phones yet. It's almost like Apple is reminding us: don't judge an iPhone by its cover.

5. (App)le TV

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

Since its launch, Apple TV (opens in new tab) has been considered a solid Internet-on-your-TV device in a marketplace full of them. But its soon-to-be-released 2015 version might finally make Apple TV the essential add-on Apple's always wanted it to be.

The completely revamped operating system – now called tvOS – unleashes Siri in your living room. Apple TV Siri now makes viewing suggestions, searches across all apps for those episodes of Space Ghost you love, and even fast forwards past the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi - all you have to do is ask.

But if shouting at the TV isn't your thing, the redesigned Apple TV remote allows you to swipe and gesture to navigate Netflix or any of the other apps from the third-party developers Apple has invited to the device. This in itself may be the biggest development for Apple TV. A healthy app ecosystem continuously breathes new life into a device, and this new openness to the third-party app marketplace (which Apple helped create) should give Apple TV the pure oxygen it's needed.

6. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

Sure, the appearance of Microsoft VP Kirk Koenigsbauer at Apple's Hey Siri event was a sign of renewed collaboration between the two rivals, no doubt about it.

But who was doing the hosting, and who was doing the guesting shouldn't be ignored. After all, the Godfather never visits his beseeching constituents. They come to him.

Microsoft needed to be up on Apple's stage, associating itself with Apple's brand far more than Apple needed the old giant to explain Office on the iPad Pro. Microsoft at Hey Siri was a watershed moment, yes, but it was also a win for Apple.

Not convinced? Look at it another way: Apple certainly didn't feel the need to get an invite to Microsoft's big October 6th event. The largest company on planet Earth knows it has enough social media clout (and market share) to steer its message on its own.

7. That's billion with a "b"

Tim Cook

(Image credit: Future)

Who would have predicted that a 2008 update to what was ostensibly a computer-phone would profoundly impact technology, culture and the economy? Not me, not you, and I doubt even the originator of that computer-phone update, Apple.

This June, Apple announced that the key feature of the "update heard 'round the world," the App Store, surpassed 100 billion downloads - an incredible number. Remember, not too long ago most humans thought an app was the four shrimp ceviche you ate before your steak.

Perhaps more significant than the downloads is the dollars – since 2008 Apple has paid over $30 billion to App Store developers. Thanks in part to this profit-share, he app industry is now a vital segment of the U.S. (and world) economy. Add all this together, and you can't blame Apple for feeling like it deserved the (nearly) billion victory laps it took this summer.

8. Don't believe me just watch

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

This year Apple made sure fitness bands wouldn't be the only wearable prompting flannel-adorned hipsters to utter "what's that on your wrist?" at organic-free-trade cocktail parties. The Apple Watch (opens in new tab) is here! And for the tech elite at least, there's nothing more stylish.

That is, if your average techerati could find one.

Long shipping delays added a ton of fuel to the Apple Watch's already blazing launch - and even if it means accessorizing your flannel shirt with a tinfoil hat, you have to wonder if this wasn't Cupertino's plan all along.

Without question the Apple Watch is a beautiful foray into the wearables market. And knowing Apple's track record when it comes to fixing flaws, we can comfortably predict the device will only get better (the new watchOS 2's app friendly architecture is already a huge upgrade).

To those skeptics who say the Watch is not needed, well, when has anything cool ever been needed?

9. Squashing the bugs

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

If Wikileaks ever gets their hands on Apple's design manuals, you can bet your Hermes Apple Watch that "lean and mean" will be the most common notes scrawled on the pages. After all, user experience is paramount to the Cupertino company.

The September launch of iOS 9 (opens in new tab) - the latest OS behind every Apple product that can easily slide off your desk - sees Apple staying perfectly within that "lean and mean" design philosophy. And that's no criticism. iOS 9 fixes the glitches that plagued iOS 8 while vastly improving Siri's capabilities: she now provides the smoothest search and delivery yet found on a mobile Apple device.

iOS 9 also adds "multitasking" to the latest line of iPads. This manifests in an ability to split the iPad's screen between native Apple apps, a feature sure to attract Apple's newly coveted enterprise clients. It's the business friendly approach that makes this latest iOS update a standout – and an important tool in the 2015 toolbox that Apple hopes will help it build enterprise market share.

10. The captain of operating systems

Apple

(Image credit: Future)

In a lot of ways, 2015 is a year of "tweaking" for Apple. If you think that's an underwhelming goal, consider that the "tweaks" (especially in the realm of multitasking) are more than necessary for Apple to build a successful enterprise brand. OS X El Capitan (opens in new tab) is widely considered a Yosemite (opens in new tab) polish, but it follows this 2015 Apple directive of "business or bust" and thus is a worthy addition to our list.

Let's focus on what matters, and what matters is "will El Capitan let me watch more than one movie at a time?" Well, the new app-snappy Split View and easier to use Mission Control give users an opportunity to shoot for that multitask seizure.

Read techradar and watch Breaking Bad at the same time? Sure, thanks to Split View. Switch back to that budget report as soon as the boss walks by? Exactly what Apple had in mind for Mission Control. And with El Capitan's speed, there's little chance you'll ever get caught. Perfect for business customers.