Apple has refreshed two of its most popular products for 2020 in a low-key announcement made in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown.
The company has announced updated versions of the Macbook Air and the iPad Pro. Both models are immediately available to order online and feature improvements in several key areas.
The iPad Pro has seen the lion’s share of the update and now boasts a faster processor and a new camera system. The tablet still comes in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch and outward design hasn’t changed apart from the dual-lens camera module on the back which now houses a regular wide-angle lens alongside a new ultrawide angle lens.
But the real trickery comes from a new LiDAR sensor which is nestled in next to the camera lenses. Similar to the tech used on Nasa rovers, it measures distance by capturing the light reflected off objects. This fancy new technology will mostly be put to work on augmented reality applications like the one that Ikea made so you can position virtual furniture in your actual real-life house.
Both new iPad Pros now run on A12Z Bionic chip which boasts an eight-core GPU for faster graphical processing. The original iPad Pro from 2018 was one of the most powerful devices we’d ever seen so it stands to reason this new one should be just as shudderingly powerful. As you’d guess from the name, the iPad Pro is really aimed at professionals who want all this computer power for work: video editing, computer-aided design and complex 3D rendering to name a few examples.
But chances are if you just bought one and held it up to take some pictures of your garden, they’d look pretty good too.
Apple has also improved on the accessory side of things, too. It announced a new Magic Keyboard accessory for the new iPad Pros which throws in the kind of extras that iPad users had been clamouring for. There’s a trackpad that works with improved cursor support in iPadOS as well as backlit keys and an additional USB Type-C port for passthrough charging. Which means you can use the Type-C on the base of the iPad for extras like an SD Card reader.
Battery life on the new iPad models is quoted as 10 hours on a single charge, which we’ll test for ourselves when we get hold of a review model. There’s still no 3.5mm headphone jack but at least the storage options have improved. The base model starts with 128GB of storage and goes up to either 256GB, 512GB or 1TB.
Just as with the specs, the price will probably cause wallets and purses across the country to shrivel away in terror. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at £769 for the Wi-Fi model and £919 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at £969 for the Wi-Fi model and £1119 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular.
Moreover the Magic Keyboard accessory will cost £299 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and £349 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro when it launches in May.
‘The new iPad Pro introduces advanced technologies never before available in mobile computing,’ said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. ‘Combining the most advanced mobile display with powerful performance, pro cameras, pro audio, the breakthrough LiDAR Scanner and new Magic Keyboard with Trackpad, this is another huge leap forward for iPad.
Alongside the iPad Pro is an update Macbook Air which swaps in an entirely new keyboard. Which, frankly, has been long overdue.
It now features the same Magic Keyboard first introduced on the 16-inch MacBook Pro and now being used as the aforementioned accessory for the iPad. A redesigned scissor mechanism delivers 1mm of key travel for a comfortable and stable key feel, while the new inverted-“T” arrangement for the arrow keys makes them easier to find without looking down.
As well as sorting out the keyboard, Apple has doubled the storage to 256GB for the starting model and increased the performance by adding quad-core processors for the first time.
The new Macbook Pro keeps the 13-inch Retina Display screen from the old model as well as the TouchID fingerprint scanner. Apple has dropped the starting price to £999 and will offer a further discount to educational institutions.
Both the new iPad Pro models and the new Macbook Air are available to order now on Apple’s website.
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