See the rest of TIME’s Top 10 of Everything 2013 lists here
10. Tim Cook Gets the Twitter Bug
Apple‘s top executives rarely say anything about the company’s doings until they’re good and ready — usually at a carefully-orchestrated media event. So the fact that Tim Cook was the rare tech CEO who spurned Twitter seemed perfectly logical. As of September 20, though, he’s been tweeting. Don’t look for anything revelatory: His 18 updates as of December 2 include praise for Apple customers, statements of support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and cheerleading for his beloved Duke basketball and Auburn football teams. That’s been enough to get him more than 325,000 followers to date; not bad for a tweeter-come-lately.
9. Apple’s Chairman Gets a Google Gig
In the smartphone era, relations between Apple and Google have grown so antagonistic that the notion of one guy holding big-deal positions associated with both companies sounds no more likely than someone dividing time between jobs at Coke and Pepsi. But in September, Art Levinson — the biotech pioneer who’s been Apple’s chairman of the board since November 2011 — signed up to be CEO of Calico, a Google-backed health sciences company that will tackle the challenge of extending the human lifespan. Levinson will hold onto his Apple position as well, a twist that prompted something we’ll likely never see again: a Google press release featuring a laudatory quote from Tim Cook.
8. A Leica with Cupertino Style
No industrial designer has ever had a more symbiotic relationship with his employer than Apple’s Jonathan Ive. But in partnership with fellow design god Marc Newson — and with the help of dozens of Apple engineers — Ive created a one-of-a-kind Leica rangefinder camera for a November auction on behalf of (Red), the charitable organization that raises money in collaboration with corporate partners to fight AIDS in Africa. His hyper-tasteful aluminum camera looks pretty much like what you’d expect a Leica rangefinder co-designed by Jony Ive to look like, and sold for a cool $1.8 million. Let’s hope that whoever bought it holds onto the wrist strap tightly.
7. Apple Gets Kinected
Back in 2010, Israeli startup PrimeSense provided some of the breakthrough technology that let owners of Microsoft‘s Xbox 360 Kinect add-on use their entire bodies as game controllers. The new version of Kinect provided with the Xbox One doesn’t use technology from PrimeSense, but that’s probably just as well: As of November, PrimeSense is part of Apple, which snapped up the company for a reported $360 million. As usual, Apple isn’t talking about its plans for its new toy. But don’t assume that the acquisition must be proof that a gesture-controlled Apple HDTV is in the works: As reporter Jessica Lessin pointed out, PrimeSense’s real-world-sensing techniques can also be used to map the insides of buildings, an area of known interest to Apple.
6. Siri Says “Bing It”
Apple and Microsoft may be the most iconic arch-rivals in the history of computing, but they’ve always been willing to put their differences aside when they saw mutual benefit. Case in point: With iOS 7, Apple’s Siri voice assistant no longer returns search results from Google. Instead, you get links from Microsoft’s Bing, a major coup for the scrappy search-engine underdog. It all makes sense when you consider the intense, sometimes nasty competition between Apple’s iPhone and smartphones based on Google’s Android.
5. The Apple Store Gets a Fashionable New Leader
In 2011, Ron Johnson announced he was leaving his post as senior vice president in charge of Apple’s retail operations to run JC Penney. The move didn’t work out well for Johnson, who was forced out by Penney’s board in April of this year. And it was also hard on Apple, who hired and fired British retail executive John Browett in less than a year. But in October, almost a year after Browett got the boot, the company finally announced that it had replaced him with Andrea Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry. One possible factor in the hire: Ahrendts has led the venerable luxury fashion purveyor to great success in China, Apple’s most important emerging market.
4. A Radically Revised Mac Pro
The Mac Pro, Apple’s powerful desktop tower computer, went without major updates for so long that it prompted ugly rumors that the company might ditch the desktop market. Not so: It previewed an all-new Mac Pro in June and plans to release it before the end of the year. Other than being a big-ticket, high-end Mac aimed at the most demanding users, the new model has little in common with its aging namesake. For one thing, it’s the furthest thing from a hulking, conventional tower — instead, it’s a tiny, gleaming cylinder, stuffed with cutting-edge technologies and cooled by a single fan. It even packs a bit of patriotic pride: Unlike most computers from Apple or anyone else, it’ll be assembled in the U.S.
3. One Year, Two New iPhones
Since 2007, Apple has released a new iPhone — and only one new iPhone — each year. That changed in September, when the company announced two phones at one media event. One was the iPhone 5s, the expected, incremental upgrade to the iPhone 5. The other, the iPhone 5c, wasn’t quite the “cheap iPhone” pundits kept declaring was inevitable. But at $99 with a two-year contract, it did undercut the iPhone 5s by a hundred bucks — and its plastic shell came in five different colors, giving it a more playful personality than the stately, aluminum-clad 5s.
2. The Cost of OS X, iLife and iWork: $0.00
For decades, Apple’s defining skill as a tech company has been the way it’s melded hardware and software into a nearly seamless whole. But it wasn’t until this fall that it rejiggered its approach to pricing to match the products. The company announced that OS X 10.9 Mavericks, its Mac operating-system update, would be provided to users at no additional charge, and that purchasers of new Macs, iPhones and iPads would be entitled to complimentary copies of most of its productivity and creativity apps. If the freebies boost Apple’s market share, the lost profits from software sales may be easy to swallow.
1. iOS 7: The Newest iOS Upgrade Ever
In October 2012, Apple announced that Jonathan Ive, its legendary industrial-design honcho, would henceforth be responsible for the whole user experience, software included. Seven months later, iOS 7 — the first major result of Ive’s promotion — debuted. Rarely has any successful tech product received such a sweeping makeover, at once impressive, thoughtful, jarring and controversial. Visually, the update to the iPhone and iPad operating system was such a departure that even its icons inspired passionate debate.