Apple started off the year with multiple software releases. Along with the usual bug fixes and security updates, these updates addressed the Spectre vulnerability, announced by Intel, AMD and other chip makers.
- For the Mac, Apple released macOS High Sierra 10.13.2
- For those Macs not using the latest version of macOS, Apple released Safari 11.0.2 for macOS Sierra 10.12.6 and OSX El Capitan 10.11.6
- For the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Apple released iOS 11.2.2
All of these releases supplemented earlier releases, which provided protection for the “Meltdown” vulnerability also announced a few weeks earlier by the chipmakers.
Just two weeks later, on January 23rd, Apple announced that they would begin taking pre-orders for the long awaited HomePod speaker on January 26th. Later that day, they release updates for all of the popular Apple platforms including;
- macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 with a fix for the Messages bug
- iOS 11.2.5 which added support for the upcoming HomPod and Siri Audio News
- watchOS 4.2.2 with general bug fixes
- tvOS 11.2.5 with bug fixes and general security improvements
- iTunes 12.7.3 with support for HomePod
- Security Ppdates 2018-001 for macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan, both intended to address the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities
Finally on January 25th, Apple released Logic Pro 10.4. This release had over 2,000 new features and bug fixes with the most impressive being “Smart Tempo”, which allows users to add new content regardless of the original tempo.
On February 9th, Apple released the HomePod, a speaker that can stream Apple Music, and using the built-in Siri, users can send messages, set timers, play podcasts, check the news and weather, control HomeKit-enabled smart home accessories, and complete other tasks without needing to take out their iPhone.
On March 27th, Apple held its first media event of the year. It’s “Let’s Take a Field Trip” event introduced the 6th generation 9.7” iPad along with updates to the iWorks application, Pages, Numbers and Keynote, as well as new applications for teachers.
Two days later, Apple released software updates for all of its major platforms including:
- macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 featuring eGPU support and business chat in Messages
- iOS 11.3 with the much talked about battery health tool, ARKit 1.5, Business Chat and new Animojis for the iPhone X
- iTunes 12.7.4 with a new Music Video feature for Apple Music
- watchOS 4.3 with the nightstand feature in portrait mode and new iPhone music controls
- tvOS 11.3 for 4th and 5th Generation Apple TV and provided general bug fixes and performance improvements.
On April 27th, Apple announced it was officially discontinuing the Apple Airport router line. Although Apple announced in November 2016 that it had stopped development of the wireless product line and reassigned engineers to other projects, the announcement this month marked the end of a product that introduced computer users everywhere to the world of wireless technology.
With just days to go before the annual World-Wide developers Conference, Apple released software updates for most of their main software groups as follows.
- iOS 11.4
- Addresses an issue that could prevent logging in or accessing files on Google Drive, Google Docs and Gmail in Safari.
- Introduces AirPlay 2 for HomePod which now allows multi-room playback and stereo support.
- Fixes an issue that could prevent data syncing in Health
- Fixes an issue that could prevent users from changing what apps can access Health data
- Fixes an issue where CarPlay audio could become distorted
- Fixes an issue where selecting music from your iPhone could fail when playing music over Bluetooth or when connected to USB on some vehicles
- watchOS 4.3.1
- Fixed an issue which caused Apple Watch to sometimes remain at the Apple Logo during startup
- General security updates.
- tvOS 11
- Introduced AirPlay2 for the 4th generation and 4K Apple TV
- General security updates.
- iTunes 12.7.5
- General performance issues.
Apple kicked of the month with their World-Wide Developers Conference in San Jose, CA. The focus was on software and Apple announced new features coming to their four major software groups, macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS. You can read details of the announcements in our coverage of the event here. No date was announced for release of the software beyond saying it was coming “later this year.”
With no advance notice, Apple announced on July 12th the release of the 2018 MacBook Pro with Touchbar models in both 13″ and 15″. The new machines have enhanced processors and the 15″ model can accommodate up to 32GB of RAM and a 4TB SSD for storage.
On the same day, Apple announced their 2018 Back to School promotion offering a variety of Beats headphones with the purchase of a Mac or iPad.
On September 12th, Apple held its much anticipated “Gather Round” media event. As expected, Apple announced its next iPhone models called iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR. Also announced was Apple Watch Series 4, with new watch faces, a 30% larger screen and increased heart monitoring.
Both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max were available for pre-order later in September as was the Apple Watch Series 4. People interested in the iPhone XR would have to wait until next month to see and purchase that model.
To see all the details of the Gather Round event, take a look at our complete reporting here.
Just about two weeks later, on September 24th, Apple released macOS 10.14 Mojave, the next major release of the Mac operating system.
On October 30th, Apple held another media event called “There’s more in the making.” Held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the event introduced a long-awaited refresh of the MacBook Air. The 13.3” MacBook Air has been updated with a Retina Display, Touch ID, and an 8th generation i5 processor. The new MacBook Air base model has 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD and has a starting price of $1,199.
Also announced was a new Mac mini. The new Mac mini comes standard with a 4 core CPU upgradable to a 6 core CPU with on-board flash storage up to 2TB. The new Mac mini has 10Gb Ethernet, 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI and USB-A connectivity on the back. It starts at $799.
Apple also announced two new iPad Pro models. Available in both 11” and 12.9” models, they both sport a new full screen display and adopt Face ID along with removal of the familiar Home button. Both models use a new A12X Bionic chip which contains an 8 core CPU and 7 core GPU.
To compliment the new iPad Pro models, Apple introduced an upgraded Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio cover.
The 11” iPad Pro starts at $799 and the 12.9” iPad Pro starts at $999.
Also at the event, Apple announced the release of iOS 12.1. In addition, while not announced at the event, later in the day, Apple released updates to their other software lines including macOS, watchOS and tvOS.
On December 13th, Apple announced it would invest $1 Billion to build a new campus in Austin Texas. The campus will cover 133 acres and initially employ 5,000 people but is expected to eventually employ 15,000. The new campus is about one-mile from Apple’s existing Austin facility.
The Bottom Line
These are only some of the highlights of the past year. It’s been another busy year for Apple with numerous software updates and hints of what may come in 2019. We’ll continue to keep an eye on what’s ahead for Apple in 2019 and look forward to bringing you news and information on the best third-party hardware and software to use with your Apple products.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our Apple Tech Talk visitors. We love hearing from you with suggestions and requests on how to make Apple Tech Talk better. Most of all, we appreciate hearing when one of our reviews or tips and tricks helps solve a problem or prevented a problem before it started. We know you have lots of choices to get information about Apple and the products you use with your Apple technology and we appreciate that you include Apple Tech Talk as a resource.
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