Apple stores may be closed around the world while employees work from home as part of self-distancing efforts to stem the, but that hasn’t stopped the world’s largest consumer electronics company from releasing new products. On Wednesday, Apple introduced an updated iPad Pro tablet and a MacBook Air laptop, both of which will be available to order starting today and in stores from next week.
The new 11-inch and 13-inch iPads add support for a keyboard and trackpad through iPadOS 13.4. Also on board are multiple rear cameras, an A12Z Bionic processor and a lidar sensor for augmented reality applications. The Wi-Fi-only 11-inch model will start at $799 (£769, AU$1,329), while the 12.9-inch Wi-Fi model will start at $999 (£969, AU$1,649). Cellular versions with 4G LTE are available starting at $949 (£919, AU$1,579) for the 11-inch and $1,149 (£1,119, AU$1,899) for the 12.9-inch.
The MacBook Air, which offers 256GB as standard storage, runs on Intel’s 10th-generation processors and uses Apple’s scissor-based Magic Keyboard — as opposed to its prior, controversial butterfly keyboard — is priced at $999 (£999, AU$1,599). It’s the same keyboard that theintroduced last year (it’s good).
A small bit of normal amid a pandemic
Although its retail stores are closed in the US for an indefinite period, customers can order the new models via its online store. Apple makes most of its money from its iPhone, which accounted for 61% of sales in the quarter ended in December, but the company said Feb. 17 that its iPhone supply will be “temporarily constrained” because the Chinese factories where its top-selling smartphone are produced are “ramping up more slowly than” the company had anticipated. So well-received updates to iPad tablets and MacBooks, which contributed 14% to revenue last quarter, could help shore up its sales amid a global economic downtown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Apple last updated its MacBook Pro in the fall, with a major update in thethat added an improved keyboard that returned to scissor keys instead of butterfly keys, better audio and ramped-up graphics and processor options. The Mac has been enjoying a renaissance since last year’s launch of the and the , both of which injected new energy into the Mac ecosystem.
A shot in the arm for the iPad
Apple last updated the iPad Pro in, and immediately led to over a 20% jump in iPad sales — after years of slumping numbers. Similar to the impact the Mac Pro has had on the Mac ecosystem, the iPad Pro injected new enthusiasm across the iPad line. The in 2019 — separating the iPad’s operating system from iPhone’s iOS — was another big step in the iPad’s evolution.
In 2019, Apple also delivered hardware updates to its, midrange and . It was definitely time to rev up its premium tablets. Adding full trackpad and mouse support is one of we’ve been looking forward to Apple’s iPad line receiving.
Trackpad support for other iPads, too
Besides getting trackpad support (via iOS 13.4) and core support in a number of Apple apps to start. Trackpad support is also coming to other iPads: Per Apple, “iPadOS 13.4 with trackpad support will be available on March 24 as a free software update for all iPad Pro models, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad Mini 4 and later. Trackpad support will be available on any iPad running iPadOS 13.4, and work with Apple’s Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2 and the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. Third-party mice connected over Bluetooth or USB are also supported.”
Augmented reality boost via lidar 3D scanning
This iPad also has a lidar scanner on the back, measuring things up to five meters away like a more powerful version of Apple’s front-facing TrueDepth face-scanning camera. This is a feature reported to be on the next iPhone Pro model, too. Apple promises 3D scanning of objects, and it will absolutely ramp up AR on Apple’s front.
This is a developing story.
CNET’s Eli Blumenthal contributed to this report.