MacUser review of the year: Part 1

by Kenny Hemphill on December 28, 2012

The last twelve months have been nothing if not eventful for Apple and its customers.

We’ve had the launch of the iPad mini, the first Retina Macs, the departure of the man responsible for iOS, and both the arrival and departure of retail chief, John Browett.

The year began with a day of campaigning on some of the biggest sites on the Internet, including Wikipedia, which went ‘dark’ for 24 hours, and Google. They were protesting against two pieces of legislation, Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP, which would have given the US government significant powers to take action against non US websites accused of copyright infringement. Thankfully, both bills were shelved and haven’t been heard of since.

January also saw the New York Times run a piece criticising Apple for the conditions in the factories in China which make most of its products. The NYT was then itself criticised by Business for Social Responsibility, which claimed it had been mis-represented in the article.

In February, the FBI released a 191-page dossier it had kept on Steve Jobs which was less than complimentary about the former Apple CEO. And the iOS App Store recorded its 25-billionth download.

The onset of Spring saw Apple turn its attention to its $100bn cash pile and it announced that it would issue a dividend to shareholders for the first time since 1995. Google engineering director, James Whittaker left the company, complaining that it had lost its way. And Twitter bought Posterous.

When the unseasonably warm early spring turned to the more traditional rain and wind, a Russian software security firm claimed that 600,000 Macs had been infected with a piece of malware known as Flashback. Also in April, the US Justice Department charged Apple with colluding with publishers to fix prices for iBooks, and the father of the Commodore 64, Jack Tramiel died, aged 83.

In May, it became clear that the EU’s anti-counterfeiting treaty ACTA would suffer the same fate as SOPA and PROTECT-IP, with EU vice president for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes saying ‘We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the Internet. Now we need to find solutions to make the Internet a place of freedom, openness, and innovation fit for all citizens, not just for the techno avant-garde.’

May also saw Facebook announce what turned out to be a disastrous IPO and UK ISPs reluctantly enforce a court order to block The Pirate Bay.

Apple used its Worldwide Developers’ Conference in June to re-vamp the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines. Star of the show was the 15in MacBook Pro with Retina Display, the first Mac to feature the ultra hi-res screen. It also previewed iOS 6, which featured the new PassBook app and Apple’s own, soon to be controversial, Maps app.

Elsewhere, the European Telecommunications Institute ratified Apple’s design for a smaller SIM, known as the nano SIM, just in time for the iPhone 5. And Microsoft announced its Windows 8 tablet, Surface.

Join us on Monday when we’ll review the second half of 2012.

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