Apple’s new M1-powered iMac is available in seven different colors and features a display just 11.5 millimeters thick.
Image: Apple

Sure, 2021 presented a continuing pandemic, supply-chain challenges and unprecedented widespread resignations among professionals. Yet, Apple didn’t miss a beat.

During a year in which Apple announced a new Self Service Repair initiative, record fourth-quarter results, new AirPods, an updated Apple TV, iOS 15, macOS Monterey and Series 7 Watches, among other developments, three new products, in particular, made great gains for the company. These wins also offer insight into Apple’s potential future. Here’s a closer look at each.

SEE: Apple Silicon M1 Mac buying guide: 2021 iMac vs. 2020 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac mini (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

1. Potent new Macs

Just a year or so ago, some suggested the Mac might be dying. But 2021 proved any such rumors dramatically inaccurate.

Featuring powerful and efficient Apple Silicon chips, redesigned Macs and MacBook Pros introduced in 2021 are setting new standards for desktop and laptop performance. Packing M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max system-on-a-chip technology and featuring refreshed enclosures and updated displays, the new computers are among the most potent systems Apple’s ever offered.

In addition to including Apple’s new M1 chip, the new 24-inch iMacs are available in seven colors, as shown above, boast a brilliant 4.5K Retina display and provide up to 85-percent faster CPU and two times faster graphics performance than previous models. Further, all that performance is sandwiched inside an ever-thinner design that’s less than 12 millimeters thick.

SEE: M1 MacBook Pro 2021: Which laptop model is right for you? (TechRepublic)

New MacBook Pros, meanwhile, are available in 14- and 16-inch models. The systems pack the fastest-performing CPU and graphics engines Apple’s ever included in notebooks. With the M1 Pro and Max SoCs delivering blazing speed and improved battery life, businesses will find much to love in the new systems that provide greater performance while using less energy. Surprisingly, the new Mac notebooks don’t even need to be plugged in to deliver outstanding performance.

Apple’s Mac improvements are nearly unprecedented. What some considered a dying line of products is suddenly one of the most capable performing platforms money can buy. Expect more of the same in 2022, as Apple developers and engineers continue identifying and seizing opportunities to leverage even more benefits from Apple’s SoC architecture and system designs.

2. Numerous new iPhone 13 models

It’s no secret the iPhone has been at the heart of much of Apple’s good fortune throughout the past decade. Subscription service and app revenues are driven partly by iPhone sales and adoption. So, whenever Apple introduces new iPhones, investors, at least, pay close attention. Businesses, of course, benefit, too.

SEE: iPhone 13’s best features for business pros (TechRepublic)

When Apple introduced four new iPhone 13 models—the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max—in September, business users found much to appreciate. Whether requiring higher-end cameras or high-quality video, whether needing faster CPU and graphics performance or improved displays, business users received an array of new models from which to select and receive the feature mix they require. With larger batteries and improved power efficiencies came extended battery life, a feature most every user appreciates.

Apple’s iPhone 13 models are available in a range of colors, as well as sizes, and feature impressive cameras and displays.
Image: Apple

Expect this trend, in which users receive better performance, battery life and features, too, to continue. Despite continued worldwide supply chain bottlenecks experienced by others, Apple’s managed production and delivery capably, as attested by the lack of any significant widespread or prolonged delays with its products. However it’s done so, this has become Apple’s modus operandi. The company is an exception delivering new innovative products during a trying time. Other manufacturers can certainly take lessons from Apple, estimated by many to soon become the first company with a $3 trillion valuation.

3. Capable iPad Pros

Apple essentially killed the burgeoning netbook market when it introduced the first iPad models in 2010, while simultaneously introducing an entirely new platform for communicating, creating and collaborating. Such was the original iPad’s impact. Later, after spawning a variety of models and sizes—from the first-generation 7.9-inch iPad mini to the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro—the iPad has changed the way many business professionals work.

As with many technologies, iPads became commonplace. Every organization—from schools to nonprofits to multinational enterprises—embraced the tablet computers for everyone from students and administrators to frontline workers and mobile professionals.

SEE: Photos: Apple iPad models through the years (TechRepublic)

Over time it became tempting to view iPads as mobile sidekicks to full-blown and traditional desktops or laptops. But as iPads became more capable, and with the 2021 introduction of M1 chips in the model’s iPad Pro line, new iPads are assuredly so capable they can actually replace desktops and laptops.

With improved displays, impressive system and graphics performance and optional backlit keyboards that include an integrated trackpad, Apple’s raised the stakes with its iPad Pro models yet again. Whereas the tablet initially created a new niche, Apple’s invention now offers an entirely new way of fulfilling a variety of daily professional responsibilities.

Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro and Air features backlit, quick-action scissor keys, as well as an integrated trackpad, while also doubling as a protective cover.
Image: Apple

With expansion capabilities supporting an external display and such innovative additions as Center Stage video call capabilities, new iPad Pros confirm how Apple is approaching the future. The company will continue innovating and introducing new features and capabilities that, at first, appear as pleasant enhancements and helpful new features, but these innovations quickly become established and commonplace. The question is no longer whether many will use an Apple product to fulfill professional responsibilities, but which Apple product they’ll select to wield within the workplace.