From tiny innovations to big brawls, this is how Apple rolled in 2016

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Thank Jobs, 2016 is finally over!
Thank Jobs, 2016 is finally over!
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

2016 Year in Review Cult of Mac 2016 sent Apple for a wild ride full of fantastic new products, crazy controversies and tons of extra drama with its rivals.

Tim Cook and his colleagues probably can’t wait to jump into 2017. But before we start looking toward Apple’s future, let’s take a quick look back at all the stories that made 2016 a year Apple fans will never forget.

New York district attorney calls for federal law to unlock seized iPhones

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iPhone 7 back
Law enforcement officials still want Apple to hack the iPhone.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance wants the Trump administration to help create federal legislation requiring Apple and Google to remove default encryption from their smartphones.

The recommendation comes from the DA office’s second report on Smartphone Encryption and Public Safety, presented by Vance at the opening of the Manhattan DA’s new cyberlab. New York County is currently sitting on 423 iPhones it can’t break into, even with a warrant, so the DA’s office is pushing for change.

The FBI needs help unlocking another terrorist’s iPhone

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iPhone 7 Home button
iPhone's security has the FBI stumped.
Photo: Ste Smith

The FBI and Apple could be on a collision course for another legal showdown over a dead terrorist’s locked iPhone.

Apple refused to comply with the FBI’s demands to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone eight months ago. That led to a very public legal battle over privacy and security. Now the FBI needs help again after obtaining the iPhone of a terrorist that stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall.

Apple winning as lawmakers give up on forced backdoors

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iPhone SE
The FBI won't get its backdoor anytime soon.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

U.S. lawmakers are said to be giving up on their push for new encryption laws that would require companies like Apple to create software backdoors that allow the government to access our devices.

It’s thought the lack of White House support and Apple’s high-profile battle with the Justice Department, which was unable to force the company into providing an iPhone unlock, are some of the reasons why supporters are losing hope.

Apple rehires cryptography expert to tighten security 

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Apple is ready to tighten security.
Photo: Milo Kahney/Cult of Mac

Renowned practical cryptography expert Jon Callas is returning to Apple to help the iPhone-maker stay ahead of hackers and the FBI in its on going battle with security. 

Callas co-founded well known secure communications companies such as Silent Circle, Blackphone, and PGP Corp. This will be his third stint at Apple where he is expected to ramp up security features across Apple’s wide ranging product line up.

FBI promises more litigation in its anti-encryption vendetta

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iPhone hack
The FBI isn't backing down in its war on end-to-end encryption.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Fighting Apple may, according to some, have been the FBI’s worst PR disaster in history, but even its failure to convince Congress of its goals isn’t stopping its war on encryption — with FBI director James Comey telling reporters this week that more litigation can be expected as the feds seek to hack devices.

FBI shares its first iOS and OS X vulnerability tip with Apple

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google-facebook-and-others-following-apples-lead-on-encryption-image-cultofandroidcomwp-contentuploads201601iPhone-6s-Live-Photos-jpg
What Bizarro World is this where the FBI helps Apple?
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The FBI has informed Apple of a vulnerability affecting older iPhones and Macs. It’s the first time such information has been shared with Apple by the feds under a White House “Vulnerability Equities Process” intended to disclose security weaknesses when they are discovered.

The Vulnerability Equities Process is designed to act as a balance between the desire of law enforcement and U.S. intelligence services to be able to hack into devices and the public interest in warning companies of weaknesses in their systems that may be exploited by criminals.

FBI found no new information on San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

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After all that effort, the San Bernardino iPhone turns out not to be what the FBI was hoping for.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The FBI has had three weeks to examine the unlocked iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, and U.S. law enforcement officials are finally ready to say whether they were able to find anything of use on the handset.

The answer? Not much. Although that’s not the way they’re presenting it.

Apple denies giving China its source code

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Bruce Sewell
Apple's top lawyer went back to Congress today.
Photo: House Committee on the Judiciary Hearings

Chinese authorities have demanded Apple give the country complete access to its source code within the last two years, but Apple says it has refused to comply with the government’s demands.

Apple’s top lawyer, Bruce Sewell, defended the company’s position before U.S. lawmakers at a congressional hearing today, after the iPhone-maker was accused by law enforcement officials of refusing to help the U.S. government while at the same time freely giving information to China for business reasons.