Top 10 iPhone and iPad stories of 2010 is a headline about headlines that should come with a spoiler warning. The mere fact we had to include the word iPad this year spills the beans on the biggest story of the last 12 months. But it wasn't the only big story -- far from it. Follow on after the break as we look back at the triumphs and tragedies and the news and rumors that made for the most monumental stories of 2010.
Even before it was released, before we knew the official name for it, pundits said Apple's tablet would be a flop. Then Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, proclaiming it was better than a laptop and better than a smartphone for the web, email, photos, ebooks, movies, games, and music. And customers bought it by the millions. Nothing less than an attempt to make the personal computer more personal, to mainstream the digital appliance, the iPad established a category that had floundered for a decade and once again sent competitors scrambling not only to keep up, but to stay relevant. (Especially post iOS 4.2.)
With iPhone 4 Apple boldly claimed they were revolutionizing the phone. Again. Just like 2007, they were right. With a 960x640 Retina Display, 5mp camera and 720p HD video recording, FaceTime video calling, and a glass and stainless steel design as sexy as it was controversial -- they were right. It sold 14 million its first full quarter on the market. Any other company, any other time, and iPhone 4 would have been our #1 story of the year, but Apple this year also introduced the iPad, pushing iPhone 4 -- as incredible as it seems, to #2.
We mentioned the iPhone 4 design was controversial, and while the double layers of glass have some worried about cracks, it's that aluminum antenna that started a media circus this summer. Actually, it was real problems with the antenna under low signal conditions compounded and combusted by Apple and Steve Jobs' flippant initial response -- "you're holding it wrong." A few months, and millions of free Apple (and TiPb!) bumper cases later and "antennagate" is gone from the headlines, consigned to year-in-review fodder like this. The only question is what, if anything, will change with iPhone 5's antenna next year.
"Great artists ship" is a quote Steve Jobs is very fond of. When it comes to the white iPhone 4 originally shown off alongside its black counterpart at WWDC back in June... well, we're still waiting. Many other companies miss shipping dates but Apple isn't many other companies. It's rare for them, especially in consumer electronics. That's probably what made this a story that wouldn't go away. Currently re-re-(re?)-scheduled for spring 2011, many have stopped waiting and either bough the black, had aftermarket white conversions done (like Leanna!), or just decided to wait for iPhone 5, which should hit the market only a few short months later.
A year ago all the fanboy fights were between iPhone and BlackBerry (see Kevin, CrackBerry). Then came Droid and Verizon's marketing muscle. That made Android mainstream, and Google's Nexus One completed the one-two punch with tech geeks. Since then it's been iPhone vs. Android in the trenches, on the blogs, and especially in the comments here on TiPb. While users on both sides will argue the pros and cons, the polish and the power, Android competition has inarguably kept the pressure on Apple and Google, ultimately providing better devices for all of us.
Apple and Adobe are at war on two fronts. While users have been complaining about the lack of Flash player support on iPhone since 2007, Adobe simply didn't have the technology until betas began appearing in late 2010, and then... Apple chose not to support them. At the same time Apple changed their SDK license to prevent the use of cross-compilers like Adobe's Flash CS5 Packager. Adobe accused Apple of locking developers to Xcode, preventing Adobe from locking them into CS5. Apple accused Adobe of years of complacency and intermediation. There's still no Flash player support, but...
Whether it was Adobe's complaints and the threat of governmental investigation, or whether Apple took one look at Epic's Unreal 3 Engine running on iOS, 2010 represented another rare occurrence -- Apple called a mulligan, a do-over. The SDK dropped the cross-compuler and location-based advertising restrictions, and not only that -- Google Voice was actually approved for the iPhone, along with a slew of other apps that would never have been let in years or even months before. Apple also published guidelines for the first time, and the app approval process became considerably faster. Oh, and we got Infinity Blade courtesy of that aforementioned Unreal 3 Engine.
Infinity Blade was only one of the gaming breakthroughs we saw this year. In addition to breathtaking graphics we also saw multiplayer online come our way via Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus. Real Racing combined eye-popping, Retina Display graphics and multiplayer for a truly knock-out combo. And on the casual side Angry Birds became a pop culture phenomena once again showing graphics, multiplayer, and even physical controls aren't key to top tier title -- game play is. Add to that the iPad, where many of the same games come to bigger, better life on a 9.7-inch screen and 2010 was the year Nintendo and Sony were put on notice when it came to iOS gaming.
Advanced users, power users, tweakers -- call them what you want but they wanted functionality Apple was still unwilling or unready to provide. Whether it was unlocking from AT&T, one of the last remaining exclusive carriers, or the ability to theme with Winterboard, get glance-able data with LockInfo, get more convenient texting with BiteSMS, use AirPlay anywhere with AirVideoEnabler, toggle faster with SBSettings, or accomplish a hundred other useful, individualized things, despite the improvements in the App Store, Jailbreak continued unabated in 2010.
This could easily have been story #1 given the amount of attention -- and sheer quantity of rumors -- that the Verizon iPhone generated in 2010. But that's happened every year since 2007. What made this year different was the quality and sources of the rumors -- the big guns of mainstream media no less. According to the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, BusinessWeek and others, the Verizon iPhone is finally a done deal and we'll see it in early 2011 -- no doubt making it one of the biggest stories for next year, no doubt.
Well there they are, our picks for the top 10 iPhone and iPad stories of 2010. Did we miss one (or several) that you think were even bigger stories? Let us know what you think were the biggest stories of 2010, and give us your take on them in the comments!