Answer by Michael Vogel, 12 years of experience working for and with Apple, on Quora:

2015 has been a great year for Apple in terms of innovation. Some of the innovations are obvious and some of them are behind the scenes.

  • 3D Touch is a big one. This is primed to be one of the biggest innovations in user interface since the original touch screen on the iPhone. I firmly believe that in 3 years, it will seem odd to interact with a touch screen that doesn't have some kind of 3D Touch-like feature on it. This is going to allow for more feedback as well. I envision a future where we can type on an iPad screen and it will feel almost as real as touching a physical keyboard.
  • The Apple TV (4th Generation) is the Apple TV that everyone has been wanting Apple to put out years ago. It's setting itself up for creating the ultimate cable-cutting device, and while it appears on the surface to only be bringing itself up to the level of it's competitors, the powerful hardware behind the Apple TV and the developers that Apple has rolling out apps is going to eventually make the Apple TV one of Apple's star performers. The Apple TV remote is the first Apple remote that feels natural to use and makes me not want to use anything else.
  • With the iPad Pro, Apple is making a tablet that could conceivably, for the right person, be a laptop replacement. With the attachable keyboard, Apple Pencil, the larger screen, and additional perks like the dynamic stereo sound, the iPad Pro has a chance to increase sales of the iPad. More importantly though, it makes it a tablet that is desirable as a creation tool rather than simply a consumption device.
  • The MacBook is packed full of innovations that demonstrate Apple's design and engineering skills, from the new battery technology, the screen, the case itself, and its impossibly light and thin footprint. The new trackpad and keyboard are significant changes as well, the first in years to those features.
  • The Apple Watch is an obvious one, announced in 2014 but released in 2015. This is the device that is going to make the wearables market explode. While not a new iPhone or iPad, it certainly will more than make up a gap left by the shrinking iPod and has a potential to be a great tentpole device in Apple's lineup. It's the first new product category that Apple has launched since the iPad in 2010.
  • The A9 SoC is something that doesn't get a lot of press or attention, but is a case study that shows just how far ahead of the competition Apple is. The A9 leaves competitors so far behind that it is being compared to Intel's chips, rather than smartphone chips. While the details of Apple's A9 and their other chips are fairly secret, reviewers like AnAndTech do a pretty good job showing just how far ahead Apple is when it comes to chip manufacturing.
  • Apple's ecosystem has grown in 2015 to a dramatic degree. While it hardly stands on its own as a product or change, it's arguably the most important thing that Apple sells. Many people miss what Apple actually is and have started calling Apple a one product company or a phone company. Apple has effectively stopped selling products and is starting to sell an experience and an ecosystem. The Watch, the iPad, the iPhone, the Apple TV, and the services that run on them are tied even closer together than ever before, making it more likely that you'll buy more than one product and less likely that you'll ever leave. As Apple continues to grow worldwide, their ecosystem will grow in strength, especially as they add new product categories. It's almost impossible to overstate how much leeway this gives Apple when it comes to the new products. They can be late, they can have early initial problems, and they can be missing features, but since they tie together so well, it gives Apple a tremendous advantage. 2015 has just cemented this.

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