Apple unveiled its latest iPads, iMacs and operating system Oct. 16 at an event that showed off its expanding line of maturing products, while also announcing an Oct. 20 start date for its new Apple Pay mobile payment services.
The product launches include the iPad Air 2, which Apple touts as the thinnest and most powerful iPad that it has built so far; an iPad mini 3 with Touch ID; an iPad mini 2 with Retina display (formerly the iPad mini 2); a new Mac mini; and a 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display.
The new OS X Yosemite operating system, which is included in all the new devices and will be available as a free upgrade for Mac users starting Oct. 17, was also touted at the event, which was held at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.
The iPad Air 2, which is 6.1mm thick and weighs less than a pound, gets an improved Retina display and Apple’s new A8X chip, which delivers a 40 percent improvement in CPU performance and 2.5 times the graphics performance of the iPad Air, according to Apple. Delivering up to 10 hours of battery life, the iPad Air 2 also receives the latest Metal graphics technology from iOS 8 as well as the M8 motion coprocessor for greater graphics detail. The tablet, boasting Apple’s new Touch ID feature, is available in gold, silver or space gray.
Pricing for the iPad Air 2 with WiFi models starts at $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 64GB model and $699 for the 128GB model, according to Apple. Pricing for iPad Air 2 with additional cellular capabilities starts at $629 for a 16GB model, $729 for a 64GB model and $829 for a 128GB model. The tablets can be ordered beginning Oct. 17 in the United States.
iPad Mini 3
The new iPad mini 3 also gets Touch ID, which lets users unlock and authenticate their iPad with a touch of a finger and securely approve purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store or iBooks Store or when using Apple Pay for physical goods and services, according to Apple.
Prices for the iPad mini 3 WiFi models are $399 for the 16GB model, $499 for the 64GB model and $599 or the 128GB model. Prices for the iPad mini 3 with cellular capabilities are $529 for the 16GB model, $629 for the 64GB model and $729 for the 128GB model. The iPad mini 3 devices can also be ordered beginning Oct. 17 in the U.S. in gold, silver or space gray.
The latest iPad mini 2 gets a Retina display and starts at $299, according to Apple. Both the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 2 include A7 chips, 5-megapixel iSight cameras, FaceTime HD cameras and ultrafast wireless capabilities.
The new Mac mini is available in three models that include a fourth-generation Intel Core processor, faster integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000 and Intel Iris Graphics, and 802.11ac WiFi support. The new Mac minis are available immediately. For $499, users can buy the 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 model that includes 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 5000 and a 500GB hard drive. For $699, users can choose a 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 model with 8GB of memory, Intel Iris Graphics and a 1TB hard drive. For $999, users can choose a 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 model with 8GB of memory, Intel Iris Graphics and a 1TB Fusion Drive.
27-Inch iMac With Retina 5K Display
The new 27-inch iMac with a Retina 5K display offers the highest-resolution display available today, according to Apple, featuring 14.7 million pixels.
“Thirty years after the first Mac changed the world, the new iMac with Retina 5K display running OS X Yosemite is the most insanely great Mac we have ever made,” Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement. “With a breathtaking 14.7 million pixel display, faster CPU and graphics, Fusion Drive, and Thunderbolt 2, it’s the most beautiful and powerful iMac ever.”
The iMac with Retina 5K features a resolution of 5,120 by 2,880, providing four times more pixels than the standard 27-inch iMac and 67 percent more pixels than a 4K display.
Apple Unveils New iPad Air 2, Mac Mini, 27-Inch iMac With 5K Display
The new machine also includes a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and, for the first time, can be configured with a 4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, according to Apple. The iMac with Retina 5K display comes standard with 8GB of memory and a first-ever 1TB Fusion Drive. It can be ordered with up to 32GB of memory, a 3TB Fusion Drive or up to 1TB of PCIe-based flash storage. The new machines begin shipping immediately starting at $2,499.
OS X Yosemite
All new Apple machines will now include the company’s latest OS X Yosemite operating system, which Apple is providing as a free upgrade to existing Mac users starting Oct. 17. Yosemite gets a new appearance and new “continuity” features that allow users to easily hand off activities between their Mac and iOS devices, according to Apple. OS X Yosemite has streamlined toolbars and translucent window sidebars, and app icons also get new looks and features.
OS X Yosemite supports all Macs since 2009, as well as some models introduced in 2007 and 2008.
In addition to the new devices and OS, Apple announced that its Apple Pay mobile payment service will launch on Oct. 20 in the United States, allowing users to make purchases securely and with fewer steps when using their Apple devices.
Apple Pay supports credit and debit cards from the three major payment networks, American Express, MasterCard and Visa, and doesn’t collect any transaction information that can be tied back to a user, according to Apple.
In a telephone interview with eWEEK following the event, Van Baker, an analyst with Gartner, said the latest new products from Apple are interesting, but not exactly game-changing.
“There was nothing of consequence for the enterprise other than the iPad gets slightly cheaper in the higher-end memory configurations,” Baker said. “The standout product announcement was the iMac with the 5K display,” which offers “astounding” image quality, he added. “The new iPads are a nice improvement, but they are not compelling. It’s not like there’s going to be a new wave of buyers going out and buying them right away.”
Overall, his impressions were muted, he said. “They beat my expectations slightly, but my expectations weren’t that high.”