Tuesday, October 22, 2013

iPad 2013 launch event shows off modestly changed iPad, iPad mini

Apple's Oct. 22 iPad launch event featured some other "stars," but really, it was the iPad 5 and the iPad mini 2 that most attendees were there for (via The Verge).

First up, though, was OS X Mavericks. While much of OS X Mavericks was already known, Apple went into how it "upgraded" the hardware through the software, by increasing performance and battery life. One unexpected change: Apple announced that OS X Mavericks would ship free of charge, starting on Tuesday, too.

Next up, were MacBook Pros. The new 13.3-inch MacBook Pro sported (what else) an Intel Haswell Core processor as well as Iris graphics. Apple does make mistakes, though. When talking about battery life, Apple SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller called Batman "the Black Knight" instead of "the Dark Knight."

If that's the only mistake Apple makes, most fanboys will forgive it.

New lower price for the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro: starting at $1,299. It also ships today.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with an Intel Crystalwell chip, Iris Pro graphics. The price for this has fallen, too, to $1,999 to start, and again it ships today.

Finally, more information on the Mac Pro. Ships with Intel Xeon E5 processor with four, six, ten or 12 cores. Dual workstation graphics, with AMD FirePro graphics. The new Mac Pro will ship before the end of the year, Schiller said.

Next came more software. Specifically, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue came on-stage to talk new apps. There are new versions of GarageBand, iMovie, and iPhoto for both iOS and Mavericks. They are all 64-bit -- remember that new 64-bit A7 processor -- and work with iCloud, naturally.

In terms of iWork, Pages, Numbers and Keynote have been redesigned for iOS 7 and rewritten for the desktop. There is full file compatibility across all devices and platforms. The company also showed off very Google Drive-like collaboration on projects.

Finally, though, the presentation reached the point we all wanted: iPad.

Apple CEO Tim Cook came back onstage to talk about the iPad. As he noted, even the "doubters" are making the iPad. As Cook noted, earlier in October the company shipped its 170 millionth iPad. Cook continued: He said that the iPad is being used more -- not just bought more -- than other tablet devices.

Phil Schiller was called onstage to introduce the new device. As expected, it followed the iPad mini design. The last gen was 1.4 pounds. This new iPad -- now called the iPad Air -- only weighs one pound. The device itself is 7.5 mm thin -- 20 percent thinner than the last generation. Meanwhile, following up on its mini-ishness, the bezel is 43 percent thinner.

Inside is the Apple A7 chip. Apparently, Apple no longer needs to tweak the A-series processor to handle an iPad Retina display, so there is no A7X. There is also the M7 motion coprocessor, as in the iPhone 5s, as well. For the first time, Apple has added MIMO -- but not ac support -- to the iPad.

Camera-wise, the rear-facing camera didn't get a MP upgrade; it's still 5MP. It can still handle 1080p video, and it has a new Facetime HD camera with larger pixels.

Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 at $399, and the iPad Air sells at $499, just as the iPad 4 did. Storage tiers ramp up $100 at a time, with a $130 boost between WiFi-only and cellular-capable tablets. Thus, you'll see:

  • iPad Air 16GB - $499
  • iPad Air 32GB - $599
  • iPad Air 64GB - $699
WiFi + 3G / 4G:
  • iPad Air 16GB - $629
  • iPad Air 32GB - $729
  • iPad Air 64GB - $829
The big question for the iPad mini 2 is Retina display or no Retina display. The answer: Yes, as Apple had little choice in the matter, with 2,048 x 1,536 resolution.

It comes with the same A7 processor, MIMO WiFi, and expanded LTE support as its bigger brother.

  • iPad Air 16GB - $399
  • iPad Air 32GB - $499
  • iPad Air 64GB - $599
WiFi + 3G / 4G:
  • iPad Air 16GB - $529
  • iPad Air 32GB - $629
  • iPad Air 64GB - $729
You read that right, Apple has raised the price of the iPad mini with Retina Display (longer name than the iPad mini 2) by $70. Meanwhile, though, the original iPad mini will sell for $229.

Impressed or not? Neither device will ship with the Touch ID sensor. Thus, as we expected, this is minor update to both models.

A slideshow from the event is available here.

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