Highs and lows for Apple in 2012

Another year of ups and downs for Apple, from the iPhone 5 to iOS Maps

Apple in 2012

Apple used to be the underdog, but of late it's spent time flirting with being the biggest company in the world by market cap (depending on the price of petrol - Exxon's its closest rival at any given time).

Because of this, Apple continues to be a company people love to love (if they use its products) but also love to hate (if they don't use its products… and sometimes if they do).

2012 was the first year Apple was without its charismatic and forward-thinking founder Steve Jobs, and many pundits fired up their bonehead-o-meters and predicted nothing but doom and gloom.

Instead, we got the iPhone 5, iPad mini, and the bloke Apple bafflingly hired from Dixons got fired.

But there were lows to match the highs; not least Apple's disastrous iOS Maps app, and the realisation from onlookers that although the company is angered by plagiarism, Apple itself isn't against the odd bit of pilfering.

Apple's highs of 2012

1. iPhone 5

The iPhone 4S was great, but underwhelmed people who apparently didn't understand something can be new without changing shape.

No problems with the iPhone 5. Taller! Thinner! Faster! Better! Of course, a few doomsayers said it wouldn't sell. Predictably, they were very wrong indeed.

iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 with its new tall design, better camera and general loveliness

2. iPad mini

The worst-kept secret in tech arrived in October 2012.

It wasn't the first smallish tablet, and the display is closer to the one on the original iPad than the Retina models. However, those who've used an iPad mini mostly say it's surprised them: the device is light, fast and every bit as good as its larger siblings.

3. Retina displays

High-res displays on smartphones are one thing, but the iPad 3 wowed with its 9.7-inch Retina display.

Apple then took things further later in 2012, giving its MacBook Pro line the most beautiful displays imaginable; they come at a price and complicate Apple's line-up a touch more than we'd like, but they look gorgeous and are the new benchmark everyone must beat.

4. Growth and profits

If you've been around the block a few times, you'll remember Apple earnings calls used to be depressing affairs.

By contrast, the term 'record' is now used an awful lot. Apple in 2012 grew fast and was hugely profitable, which is a high in anyone's book.

5. A pile of new iPods

At Apple's September 2012 event, the iPad mini was expected, but new iPods showed Apple could still keep secrets.

The iPod touch got major upgrades (redesigned case; new camera; faster chip; better screen) and even the nano found itself back in favour, with a sleek new design and revised iOS-like interface.

New iPod
New iPods arrived in late 2012. They're lovely. Also, we had no idea they were coming

6. Optical drives are go

And by 'go', we mean 'gone - as in 'outta here'.

The Mac Pro and the old MacBook Pro are now the only shipping Macs with optical drives. Good riddance. The fewer moving parts, the better; and, let's face it, someone needs to drive this kind of thing, or we'd all be using floppy discs.

7. Social integration

On the face of it, Apple welding Twitter and Facebook functionality to iOS and OS X doesn't seem like a big deal; but we're listing it as a high as recognition, more than anything, that Apple's realised it sucks at social. It also shot Ping. Hurrah!

8. Sir Jony Ive and chums

Ive has a major hand in all Apple's hardware, and 2012 was a great year for him: new iPads, new iPods, the iPhone 5, new iMacs and MacBook Pros. Oh, and he got a knighthood.

It's understandable, then, that Apple CEO Tim Cook now has Ive in control of all Apple human interface teams.