At the weekend I wrote my list of what I consider to be the worst products to come out of Cupertino’s design bunker over the past few years. (Check out my top 5 worst Apple products article here.) But, I couldn’t complain about my favorite tech firm without putting my top 5 products in a separate list. I mean, where’s the consistency in that? And we all know, there’s much more to love about Apple than there is to hate. So, here are what I think are the best products released by Apple since 2007.
1. iPhone 4 – 2010
Although I was a little displeased at the new, squarish form factor there’s no denying that – as an overall package – the iPhone 4 was an incredible jump from the 3GS. Having the antenna on the outside was a risky idea, and didn’t pay off to begin with, but time has proven that signal is much better. (Once it got redesigned a little in the 4S.) The A4 processor powering the device was incredibly quick, coupled with the Retina display means that it was the iPhone of all iPhones. In fact, it was the smartphone of all smartphones. It sold shedloads.
The 5MP camera was superb and we had an LED flash for the first time and the long-awaited front facing camera for video calling. It was stunning. So good in fact, that when the next generation iPhone came out 16 months later, it couldn’t be improved on that much. It was a real game changer, and has to go down as the iOS handset that changed it all – again.
2. The App Store – 2008
It’s hard to think of a time when smartphones didn’t have access to thousands of applications through an app store of some kind. Apple rocked the world when it announced the iTunes App Store for iPhone along with the 2nd gen handset. And, thanks to the strict guidelines, stringent vetting and intuitive UI, there’s still no better way to get apps on any phone. There are now over half a million apps, and the variety and quality is unmatchable.
3. The new iPad (3rd gen) – 2012
The first iPad was an unusual device. It was the first of its kind, but wasn’t exactly quick or particularly slim. The 2nd was a speedier version, but the lack of improvement on the display meant that it seemed like just an “S” upgrade – to me at least. The latest Apple tablet has shown us what the iPad always should have been. It has the improved sleek design of the iPad 2, but it’s powered by a much better processor and GPU. The 9.7″ Retina display is incredible, and the quality of the camera on the back beats a whole host of smartphone snappers. It’s quick, and all the optimized apps look incredible. Any update from here on will not make as much of an impact, unless the form factor is completely changed, or the battery technology leaps forwards.
4. iOS 5 – 2011
Since 2007 we’d been screaming for a better notifications system for our iPhones, iPads and iPods. The blue popup was irritating at best, and those annoying red badges on the icons would not let you alone. The lack of customization on that front was particularly restrictive. Then Apple took the
best only good parts of Android and Blackberry OSes, polished them up, refined them and added them to iOS giving us a much better experience. Notification Center isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s so much better than what we used to have. You can customize what type of notification you want for any particular app. That individual tailoring is vital in this day and age.
iCloud came in tow with iOS 5 and finally enabled us to activate our devices without needing a PC or Mac. (Seriously, why couldn’t we do this before?) It was a much needed feature, and added so many vital improvements – mainly services that MobileMe used to charge us for. There was a huge addition of accessibility features too, such as creating custom vibrations and on-screen shortcuts for the iPad. iOS 5 is the biggest leap in iOS development so far.
5. MacBook/MacBook Pro (Aluminum Unibody) – from 2008
This is on the list for purely aesthetic reasons. MacBook specs are normally up there, and they always perform. The newly designed Aluminum unibody was an evolution that turned the MacBook Pro from looking like a big shiny metal tin made for geeks, in to a really beautiful machine. It looks and feels perfect. It’s hard to imagine what we saw in Macs before they had that gorgeous black frame around the display. The design was so good, that it’s changed little – if at all – over the past 3 and a half years.
You don’t know how hard it was for me to leave out the original iPhone. In terms of overall impact on the market, nothing has matched it or shaken up our world since. No Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone has changed things as much as the “Jesus Phone” did in 2007. The multitouch capacitive display, thumb-able user interface, Mail and browser were second to none and improved our experience. However much Android lovers hate to admit – and often categorically deny – the iPhone did change everything.
To some extent, I also really loved the iPhone 3GS. It’s the only phone I’ve managed to keep for an entire year without changing. It’s curved back made it so comfortable to hold, it almost became part of me. (I still miss it sometimes.) Some other great products include the Mac Mini, the current iMacs with i5 processors. They may make your top 5. But, this is a personal list, and is purely my opinion.
What are your favorite Apple gadgets from the modern era? Comment below, or tweet me, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this: @TiP_Cam