MacBook Air Front And Center

By Don Reisinger

Siri Love

With the launch of voice recognition agent Siri, Apple made another important advancement in how users interact with computing devices. iPhone 4S users can now talk into the device to send messages, check schedules, and more. Siri has a long way to go to be perfect, but it's a great first step.

MacBook Air Front And Center

Apple's MacBook Air has always been one of its best products. It was good to see the company make that device an integral component in its computer strategy. The company is reportedly preparing to bring many of the same design ideas to the MacBook Pro in 2012.

Steve Jobs RIP

When the company's co-founder Steve Jobs died Oct. 5, 2011 at the age of 56, Apple handled the loss with a level of respect befitting the man who contributed so much to the industry. The company held a special event to commemorate Jobs and provided a place for fans and consumers to share their memories. Apple did a fine job honoring its co-founder.

Passing the Torch

Prior to his death, Jobs announced that he was stepping down as CEO, and the seamless transition allowed Cook to take over that role, putting investor and consumer minds at ease. Apple is still Apple. And the company's board has Jobs and Cook to thank for that.

Fixed the iPhone’s Antenna

When Apple launched the iPhone 4 with its wraparound antenna design in 2010, the smartphone was criticized for poor wireless reception if the device was held in a "death grip." Although the iPhone 4S is basically the same product, Apple addressed the reception problems.

Multi-Carrier Support

At last, in 2011, Apple made its iPhone available to other U.S. carriers besides AT&T, offering it on both the Verizon and Sprint networks. Finally, iPhone fans have their choice of carrier.

iCloud Has Arrived

Apple's iCloud was supposed to be a one-stop shop for streaming music and movies, storing information from the Web, and more. Although it doesn't quite live up to the hype, it's a good first step as Apple starts to transition its services to the cloud. In the coming years, iCloud could become central to the company's plans.

Mac App Store

iPhone users have had an App Store since 2008. But Mac OS X users were left out in the cold until earlier this year. According to the latest data from Apple, more than 100 million programs have been downloaded from that store since its launch in January. The store has become so popular&#151 and such an important part of Mac OS X&#151 that Microsoft is planning to offer its own application store to Windows 8 users next year when that operating system launches.

Enterprise Love

Apple hasn't always been the most enterprise-friendly company, but in the past year, it has targeted companies through its ads and sales teams. It's a smart move that could pay significant dividends in the coming years.

Leader In Privacy

Earlier this year, Apple was criticized for storing location information, unencrypted, in the iPhone and iTunes. The company quickly addressed the issue. More recently, privacy watchdogs around the world have been taking aim at Android handset makers and carriers for supporting Carrier IQ, a diagnostic tool for smartphones that tracks all kinds of information. Apple, which disabled the feature, says it will remove it entirely in a future software update. Simply put, Apple has become a leader in mobile privacy this year.

This article was originally published on 12-30-2011