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Apple unveils new iPad Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini

Apple has brought its fanfare to Brooklyn.CEO Tim Cook kicked off his company's second keynote in two...

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 2:42 AM
Updated: Oct 31, 2018 2:42 AM

Apple has brought its fanfare to Brooklyn.

CEO Tim Cook kicked off his company's second keynote in two months on Tuesday. This one, held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, follows its splashier September press event where it unveiled the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR.

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Tim Cook

Apple unveiled what it's calling the biggest change to the iPad since its inception eight years ago. Its new features play in to Apple's mission to make the tablet more adaptable and appealing to a larger audience.

The new iPad Pro is 5.9 mm thinner — about 15% slimmer than its predecessor — and no longer features a headphone jack or Home button. You'll need to swipe certain spots on the screen to get back to previous pages. The iPad Pro also features nearly a edge-to edge-display and rounded corners.

The iPad Pro also supports Face ID and USB-C, so it can connect to monitors up to 5K to turn into a workstation. It can even charge your iPhone, essentially turning it into your own personal power bank.

The iPad Pro's Pencil magnetically connects to the side of the device and automatically charges — a small touch Apple hopes will resonate with creative users.

It's available in two sizes: 11 inches starting at $799, and 12.9-inchfes starting at $999.

Apple also showed off a completely redesigned MacBook Air, starting at $1199. That's up $200 from the previous model due largely to its new Retina display.

"When Steve [Jobs] pulled that MacBook Air out of that envelope, it was clear things would never be the same," Cook told attendees. "The MacBook Air's incredibly thin design not only influenced the Mac line... it changed the industry."

Cook promises those changes will continue. Apple said the MacBook Air is 25% lighter than its previous reiteration, now weighing in at 2.75 pounds. The familiar aluminum bezel has been removed for a sleeker border. For the first time, its base is made out of 100% recycled aluminum to help reduce the computer's carbon footprint by 50%, according to Apple.

Beyond the company's effort to make it more eco-friendly, the 13.3-inch notebook features a more responsive keyboard. But noticeably absent from the device is the TouchBar feature introduced two years ago that brought a collection of controls right to the keyboard, and which many users disliked.

Apple also touted its new addition of Touch ID for increased security, but that inclusion is an interesting choice: Apple is moving away from the feature on its flagship iPhones in favor of Face ID.

The company also showed off its first update to the Mac Mini in four years. Although it looks strikingly similar to the last model, the overhauled device ($799) comes with a quad-core Intel processor with an option to upgrade to a six-core version. It features four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and HDMI and Apple says it is five times faster. It now comes in space gray.

In addition, Cook announced that iOS users can now upgrade to iOS 12.1 for more than 70 new emoji and the much-anticipated new group FaceTime feature.

Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster said the announcements were mostly expected and "incrementally positive."

"We see today's iPad Pro updates as an indication of the blurring the lines between the iPad, the Mac, and the iPhone," Muenster wrote in a note. "Adding tech from the iPhone like FaceID, along with full Adobe apps, Xbox-level graphics, and a USB-C port that we usually associate with a Mac makes its 'tablet' categorization more ambiguous. This may increase Apple's addressable market by effectively creating a lower entry point for a full-fledged 'computer.'"

Meanwhile, ABI Research director David McQueen said Apple's move to add higher-end specs to its products will help it accommodate future technological advances, like 5G. McQueen said he believes brand loyalty will push customers to pay the higher prices.

"Consumers are still happy to pay the price to have an Apple product having probably invested heavily already into the ecosystem," McQueen told CNN Business.

Pre-orders start today and the new products hit stores next week.

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