Tech
Apple

7 times Apple surprised us (for better or worse) in 2022

The tech (and tracksuits) we saw from Apple this year.
By Cecily Mauran  on 
composition of Apple products and Craig Federighi
Craig Federighi obviously tops this list. Credit: Jasmin Merdan / Moment / Getty / Apple

2022, you flew by. Join Mashable as we look back at everything that's delighted, amazed, or just confused us in 2022.


2022 was a year of surprises from Apple.

From an unforgettable tracksuit to a shade of purple that made us question our eyesight and even our first "visit" to the Dynamic Island, Apple kept us guessing this past year. And we're already excited for what Apple has in store for 2023. But before we head into the near future with the forward march of tech, let's take a look back on Apple's rollercoaster of a year; one filled with twists and turns, some of which may have even accidentally triggered Crash Detection.

Tracksuits and the Chief Apple 'Daddy' that made them trendy

With everything that's gone on these past 12 months, it's hard to believe that this was the same year Apple exec Craig Federighi wowed us with his sartorial choices at June's WWDC 2022. Even if that event feels like it took place decades ago, the sight of Chief Apple Daddy in a white tracksuit with rainbow trim is an indelible one. 

Let's be honest, Federighi is Apple's resident "cool guy." His swaggy charisma is the perfect palate cleanser to Tim Cook's mild-mannered, "aw shucks" demeanor, and it was the only thing from the event worth talking about. In fact, Federighi's casual "cool" style was so influential, it seemed to have a "Kate Middleton effect" on all the other Apple presenters. Kyle Ardill, Rubie Edmondson, and Craig Bolton all rocked the athleisure look, with their sweat-wicking 'fits. You could say that's because they all manage sports-and-fitness-related departments, but we think they just wanted to dress like Federighi. 

In fact, we think Federighi inspired everyone to let their hair down, so to speak. Darin Adler went full "dad on casual Friday" with his floral short-sleeve shirt; Corey Wang wore jean culottes and bright yellow mules; and Katie Skinner went all out in a denim jumpsuit. We saw not one, but two bomber jackets from Emily Schubert and…drumroll please…Tim Cook. 

Tim Cook at Apple Park wearing a bomber jacket
Tim Cook serving looks at WWDC. Credit: Apple

I'd like to imagine this was all because of a rousing pep talk from Federighi saying, "C'mon folks, let's show everyone that Apple plays as hard as it works."

Thanks from all of us, Craig.

The purple iPhone 14 that wasn't

Not to be outdone by Samsung's lush purple Galaxy Z Flip 4, Apple announced a "deep purple" colorway for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. At first, it seemed like a triumph for Y2K trend revivalists, but upon closer inspection, something was wrong: The purple iPhone 14 Pro wasn't really deep purple. 

It all unraveled when tech influencer iJustine tweeted a video holding the iPhone 14 Pro Max, in which it appeared to look like a dusty purple; one that even looked gray at some angles. Eagle-eyed fans commented, noting their confusion and disappointment. "idk how in the world that is purple" said one. "It looks much darker here than in the renders...tad bit disappointed. Kind of looks like a cross between purple and space grey," commented another. 

In her "official investigation," Mashable reporter Elizabeth de Luna got comment from senior editor Stan Schroeder who attended the Apple event in person and held the dubiously colored iPhone 14 Pro in his hands. His final take? "It’s quite subdued. It’s not screaming purple. It’s purple-ish."

There you have it, folks. "Purple-ish" is not deep people. We've closed the case on this, but one question remains: Apple, when will we get a pink iPhone?

hand holding up an iPhone 14 Pro
Whatever color this is, it's not deep purple. Credit: Stan Schroeder / Mashable

Doomsday tech

In 2022, it became clear that Apple really wanted us all to know that it's a scary world out there. And the company really wanted you to know that it could protect you.

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At the September iPhone launch event, we were introduced to two new features designed to help Apple users in emergencies. Crash Detection for the iPhone 14s and the new Apple Watches uses motion sensors to determine if you've been in a car accident and calls the nearest 911 dispatch. And Emergency SOS via satellite for the iPhone 14 line uses satellite communication to ping emergency responders in dead zones. 

hand holding an iPhone 14 showing emergency sos via satellite
Emergency SOS via satellite in action. Credit: Mashable / Apple

Both Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via satellite have proven to work in real life emergencies. This kind of life-saving technology is undeniably a good thing. Our beef is with Apple's fear-mongering messaging which is essentially: Buy this iPhone/Apple Watch or die.

The melodramatic promo videos for Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via satellite want to say, "Apple has your back," but the subtext feels like a thinly-veiled threat from Uncle Vinny offering "protection."

At this point, we don't know what's scarier: not bringing an iPhone 14 into the wilderness or not buying one.

Dynamic Island innovation-ish

This past September, Apple shocked the tech world by finally getting rid of the dreaded notch… kind of.

For years, iPhone users fumed over the black blob housing the front-facing camera that cut into the top of the screen, especially since Android smartphones have long resolved that by embedding the camera under the screen. 

This year, Apple finally addressed the notch, but not in the way we expected. On the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, the notch was replaced with a pill-shaped cutout called the "Dynamic Island." This is an interactive "button" that shows you notifications and information based on the apps you're using. 

Mashable's Stan Schroeder, who reviewed the iPhone 14 Pro, found the Dynamic Island to be unobtrusive and genuinely useful. Schroeder also gave Apple due credit for trying something new, saying: "Until now, none of the smartphone makers thought to turn that area into an interactive feature."

But Apple's true achievement here was creating Penn-and-Teller-level misdirection. The Dynamic Island is so novel, it's almost enough to make you forget its true purpose, which is to hide the pill-shaped cutout. Is it really innovation if it only exists to cover something up? Or is it just a flashy bandaid with a fancy name?

The Dynamic Island is undoubtedly a cool feature. But the fact that it's repurposing the notch instead of eliminating it cheapens the trick. It's the kind of sleight-of-hand move that makes you wonder what Apple is hiding. Not just the notch, but the inability to remove it?

Switching to USB-C (because it has to)

Apple prides itself on its "Think Different" philosophy. But when it comes to different charging ports, we all collectively hate that approach. Why, oh why, does Apple enforce the use of its Lightning port for iPhones when the rest of the world charges its devices with a USB-C cable?

Apple has resisted making this change for years, arguing that switching to USB-C would create an "unprecedented amount of electronic waste" by rendering Lightning-compatible accessories obsolete.

But also, it would lose out on the money it makes from all of those accessories and dongles that iPhone users are forced to rely on.

Well, the members of the European Parliament must be iPhone users because they finally decided to do something about it. In October, the EU formally approved a law requiring all phones, tablets, and cameras to have a USB-C port. The EU says the law would "get rid of the so-called technological 'lock-in' effect, whereby a consumer becomes dependent on a single manufacturer." It would also save consumers "250 million euros a year on unnecessary charger purchases," which ends up being 11,000 tons of annual e-waste in Europe.

What was that Apple said about environmental waste?

a lightning cable and USB-C cable on top of an iPhone showing the Apple logo
The USB-C has finally won the hardware battle. Credit: Getty Images

So… surprise! iPhones will finally be USB-C compatible. Many Apple devices like the M2 MacBook Air and newer iPads already have USB-C charging ports. And Apple insiders Ming-Chi Kuo and Mark Gurman have reported that the company was internally testing the idea of a USB-C iPhone. But rumors aside, this is definitely happening by 2024, finally putting an end to dongle hell.

Tim Cook giving Elon Musk a tour of Apple HQ

Nothing about the depths of Elon Musk's Twitter antics surprise us anymore, but we were surprised by Tim Cook's tactics in diffusing an online provocation.

When Musk tweeted he was ready to "go to war" with Apple over allegedly threatening to remove Twitter from the App Store, Cook said, "Hey Elon, want a tour of Apple Park?" 

We'll never know the details of what went down between Cook and Musk while gazing at the serene pond in the heart of Apple HQ. But Musk later tweeted, "Good conversation. Among other things, we resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store. Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so." 

For the record, Apple never publicly said it would remove Twitter from the App Store. But whatever threat Musk was referring to was put to bed by Cook's masterful diplomacy. With some ego-stroking and an invigorating nature walk, all was resolved. It's unclear whether they talked about the 30 percent cut that Apple takes from app developers, which was part of Musk's feud with the company. But if we ever get invited to tour Apple Park, we'll know Cook is up to something.

One more thing… but not yet

2022 was the year our dreams of Apple's mixed-reality headset were dashed. Every time Tim Cook took the stage — first, at WWDC in June, then at the iPhone 14 event in September — we held our breath for an announcement about the highly-anticipated headset, but… nothing. The XR headset was originally expected this year, but software issues and supply chain constraints have reportedly pushed back the launch until the second half of 2023. 

image of woman wearing a vr headset with the Apple logo
An unofficial rendering of what the Apple XR headset could look like. Credit: Antonio De Rosa

That leaves a whole lot of time for speculation and hype to build. Here's what we know so far: It might have iris-scanning technology for identity verification and payments, a "ski-goggle" design that's a stark contrast to Meta's Quest Pro and Quest 2 headsets, and its operating system might be called xrOS. Oh, and it also might set you back $2,000

Clearly, Apple has had its setbacks this year and not just with its XR headset project. But we're hoping 2023 will be the moment we get back the innovative Apple of yesteryear.

More in Apple, iPhone

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Cecily Mauran

Cecily is a tech reporter at Mashable who primarily covers news and internet trends related to Apple, travel, and health. You can find her on Twitter at @cecily_mauran.


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