Last night, Apple published its annual “Best of iTunes” list, which includes editorial picks for the best releases in music, movies, TV shows, apps, books, and podcasts of 2013. The special page, featured across the entire iTunes Store, can be viewed here.
For apps, as in previous years Apple has picked apps and games of the year, runner-ups, and other notable app releases of the year. The App Store category is organized in iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps; this year, Apple has included sub-sections as “Trends”, listing apps belonging to popular categories such as photo editing, productivity, and multiplayer games.
On iOS, Apple has picked Duolingo and Ridiculous Fishing as app and game of the year for iPhone, and Disney Animated and BADLAND on the iPad. For the Mac, Apple has chosen Wunderlist and XCOM: Enemy Unknown as app and game of the year; on the Mac App Store, Apple hasn’t included Trends, opting for a simpler “best apps” and “best games” organization.
Last year, Apple picked Day One and Deus Ex: Human Revolution as winners for the Mac; Paper and The Room for the iPad; and Action Movie FX and Rayman Jungle Run for the iPhone.
As in previous years, Apple has released a free “12 Days of Gifts” app for iPhone and iPad owners that will give them access to exclusive offers for free content on the iTunes Store. This year, the app is available for US customers as well, although Apple notes that not all content will be available in all countries; the promotion will run from December 26 to January 6, 2014.
From 26 December – 6 January, you can download a gift each day—songs, apps, books, movies, and more—with the 12 Days of Gifts app. Each day’s gift will only be available for 24 hours, so download the free app to make sure you don’t miss out.
Right now, the app comes with a countdown that shows how many days are left until the first free item becomes available; upon first launch, you’ll be asked to accept push notifications (to be notified when offers are released) and to confirm the country for your iTunes Store’s Apple ID.
The app has an animated background reminiscent of iOS 7′s dynamic wallpapers, and there is a built-in FAQ to learn more about downloads. Apple has also included an “Add To Calendar” button in the share sheet: tapping this button will create a recurring all-day event in your default calendar to remember to download the daily gift for every day of the promotion.
Maureen Farell has a list of all the companies that Apple acquired in 2013 (that we know about). Cue is the most interesting one to me – I used to be a Greplin user before it became Cue and those guys knew how to contextualize data from various sources, which would be great for Siri and Notification Center's Today view. The lack of European location startups is curious.
There are many possibilities opened by this kind of access and technology. At TechCrunch, Matthew Panzarino imagines that Topsy's technology could be useful to improve Twitter search tools built into Siri:
There is also a slim possibility that Apple may want to use Topsy's stored trends data and firehose access to improve Siri search. It could provide Siri with a reliable way to present people with trending topics and search results according to Twitter when queried.
As Panzarino also speculates, however, I believe that there's real potential in Twitter analysis algorithms used to augment iTunes and App Store discovery for media, and especially apps. Imagine being able to determine in (almost) real-time the kind of buzz that an app is getting by analyzing tweets sent by humans (not bots or websites) about a new app release. I've written about this before, and smaller third-party companies have already tried to provide their own layer of App Store discovery tools by triangulating signals from App Store charts, online reviews, and social networks.
And, of course, there's the TV rumor: Twitter has become the de-facto destination for real-time TV commentary by millions of watchers, with the company going as far as surveying a subset of users about live TV viewing habits in their latest iOS app update. Topsy's firehose access and algorithms could have endless potential for Apple's rumored television plans.
As John Gruber notes, it is a curious acquisition. Apple may have bought Topsy for its team or technology or patents, but the fact that Topsy was highly specialized in Twitter tools and that Apple already has native Twitter integration in iOS and OS X creates several interesting scenarios. Although, as we've seen with the Chomp acquisition, this kind of changes can take a long time.
Earlier today, Apple released an update to the official Remote app for iPhone and iPad that brings an iOS 7 redesign and support for the latest version of iTunes. While I wouldn't consider myself a heavy user of Remote, I like to keep it on my iPhone for those times when I have friends over for dinner and my MacBook is playing music in the background. The new app doesn't come with groundbreaking new features but it's got some iOS 7 design decisions worth pointing out.
In terms of new product categories, specifically, if you look at the skills that Apple has from hardware, software, and services, and an incredible app ecosystem, these set of things is very, very unique, I think no one has a set of skills like this, and we obviously believe that we can use our skills in building other great products that are in categories that represent areas where we do not participate today. So we’re pretty confident about that.
But where Apple has disappointed recently is in novelty, or surprise. Perhaps this is unfair, but it’s real. Apple became the company that delivered “new”. People got used to hearing about new stuff all the time — iPod nanos, iPhones, MacBook Airs, iPads — and now it seems like it’s been a while. The more people got, the more they wanted. And then you have to work even faster.
What really happened? Steve Jobs spoiled us with two mind-altering substances in quick succession — the iPhone and iPad. Meanwhile, the majority of people who have ever owned Apple products likely bought their first (and second…) during this period. So all of a sudden, a bunch of people who didn’t really pay attention to Apple before — people who never had to boot up a Performa with Extensions off, or upgrade RAM in a Power Mac 8500 — are now expecting some crazy new toy to appear every few years, whether it’s realistic or not.
This is certainly an honest perspective by Dan Frommer. Being the “Apple guy” among my friends, I get regular questions about “what's really next for Apple” or “when is the watch coming out”. There is a natural tendency for humans to want “new” – imagine by customers who got the iPhone and iPad in the past five years alone.
The software and products Apple released this year are great, but many of them (game controller API, Touch ID, and even iOS 7 itself) seem to suggest Apple is laying the foundation for interesting new things to come.
Apple has published their Q4 2013 financial results for the quarter that ended on September 28, 2013. The company posted revenue of $37.5 billion. The company sold 14.1 million iPads, 33.8 million iPhones, and 4.6 million Macs, earning a quarterly net profit of $7.5 billion.
We’re pleased to report a strong finish to an amazing year with record fourth quarter revenue, including sales of almost 34 million iPhones,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re excited to go into the holidays with our new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, iOS 7, the new iPad mini with Retina Display and the incredibly thin and light iPad Air, new MacBook Pros, the radical new Mac Pro, OS X Mavericks and the next generation iWork and iLife apps for OS X and iOS.
For Q1 2014, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $55 billion and $58 billion. (more…)
As first noted by MacRumors, Apple will offer a live video stream of today’s media event. As they have done in the past (notably, for the same Fall event last year) a dedicated “Apple Events” channel has returned for Apple TV users, showing a placeholder for the stream that will go live later today at 10 AM PDT.
If past events are of any indication, Apple should also enable a browser stream at this link; right now, the page isn’t available.
13:00 — New York, New York
10:00 — San Francisco, California
04:00 — Sydney, Australia (Oct. 23)
02:00 — Tokyo, Japan (Oct. 23)
01:00 — Shanghai, China (Oct. 23)
22:30 — New Delhi, India
21:00 — Moscow, Russia
19:00 — Rome, Italy
18:00 — London, England
Update 9 AM EDT: As expected, Apple has also launched a webpage to stream today’s event in a web browser. The page is available here.
Live Streaming video requires Safari 4 or later on OS X v10.6 or later; Safari on iOS 4.2 or later. Streaming via Apple TV requires second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 5.0.2 or later.