The invitations for Tuesday’s Apple press event promised there would be “a lot to cover.”
Sure enough, Apple unveiled new lines of iPads, MacBook Pros and announced release dates for its new Mac Pro workstation computer and the latest version of its OSX operating system.
“These amazing products are great examples of the type of innovation that only Apple can deliver,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook during the event in San Francisco.
For starters, the new 9.7-inch iPad has a new name, the iPad Air. It will be housed in a thinner, lighter case and will have a thinner bezel around the screen, which remains the same size. It will sell for $499 for the 16 gigabyte model and begins shipping Nov. 1.
Apple also introduced a new iPad mini, the smaller 7.9-inch version of the iPad, which now sports the higher-resolution Retina Display. The new tablet, which also ships in November, will begin selling at $399.
Both tablets will now run on Apple’s new A7 processor, the same chip that is now in the iPhone 5S. That will result in faster performance for both the iPad Air and the iPad mini.
So far, Apple has sold 170 million iPads since it was first introduced in 2010. Apple executives claim it is used four times more than any other tablet on the market.
The Mac Pro, Apple’s high-powered desktop computer for professionals, will be released before the end of the year and will start at $2,999. The computer, which looks like a small black cylinder, is used by professionals such as graphics artists and video editors. It’s the first update for the machine in several years.
Apple also is debuting a new line of MacBook Pro laptops that are thinner, lighter and less expensive. Both the 13- and 15-inch laptops with the high-resolution Retina Displays will be speedier thanks to faster processors and also have longer battery life. They begin shipping today, and their starting prices are $1,299 and $1,999 for the 13- and 15-inch models, respectively — a drop of $200 for each.
Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, also introduced new versions of the iLife and iWork suites of apps. iLife, which includes iMovie, iPhoto and Garage Band, will now be free for all new iDevices and Macs. iMovie will include a new feature called iMovie Theater that allows the user to play all videos from one place, including those stored through iCloud. Garage Band, Apple’s music-making app, also includes a new feature called Drummer that can replicate different drumming styles while the user makes music.
Meanwhile, iWork, the productivity suite, was completely rewritten and updated for the Mac and includes the ability to revise documents through all mobile devices and desktop computers and in iCloud. That suite of apps, which include the word processor Pages, the spreadsheet program, Numbers, and the presentation software, Keynote, also is now available for free.
Finally, Apple released the newest version of its Mac OSX operating system called “Mavericks.” The new software, which is for Mac desktops and laptops, includes new features such as iBooks and Apple Maps applications and the ability to receive notifications. The upgrade is free for all users with OSX Snow Leopard or newer.
Tuesday’s announcements come just a month after Apple unveiled its latest iPhone, the iPhone 5S, which includes a fingerprint sensor for additional security (the new iPads will not have the new “Touch ID” sensor). That phone and the new lower-cost iPhone 5C both sold 9 million units in the first weekend of sales, Apple biggest launch ever, Cook said.
Competition with Apple has been heating up in the last few years, particularly in the tablet market. The Google Nexus 7 tablet and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX both were introduced earlier this year and already sport high-resolution screens but at cheaper prices than the iPad mini. Meanwhile, Android-based phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and the Motorola Moto X have been selling well with bigger screens than the iPhone and with more features.
Wall Street’s reaction to Apple’s announcements was tepid at best. The company’s stock dropped just $1.49 to $519.87 per share at the close of Tuesday’s market.
New Apple products
iPad • The new version of Apple’s computer tablet is thinner, lighter and has a thinner bezel around the 9.7-inch screen. It also will have a faster processor and the new M7 motion processor that can be used with fitness-based apps. Prices start at $499. It will ship on Nov. 1.
iPad mini • The smaller 7-inch tablet will now have the higher-resolution Retina Display as well as a faster processor. It will ship sometime in November.
OSX Mavericks • Apple released Tuesday the latest version of its operating system for Mac desktops and laptops. It is now available for free for users with OSX Snow Leopard or newer.
Software • The iLife and iWorks suites of apps have been upgraded and now are available for free on new iDevices and Macs.
Mac Pro • The professional workstation computer will be released sometime in December and will start at $2,999.