Saturday 15 December, 2018

iPads, Macs get new screens as Apple pushes creativity

John Ternus, Apple's V.P. of Hardware Engineering, discuss the latest development for the iPad Pro during an event to announce new products Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

John Ternus, Apple's V.P. of Hardware Engineering, discuss the latest development for the iPad Pro during an event to announce new products Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Apple's new iPads will more closely resemble its latest iPhones as they ditch a home button and fingerprint sensor to make more room for the screen.

As with the latest iPhone models — the XR and XS —the new iPad Pro will use facial-recognition technology to unlock the device and to authorize app and Apple Pay purchases.

Apple also unveiled new Mac computers, including a MacBook Air laptop with a high-resolution screen.

Tuesday's announcements took place at an opera house in New York, where the company was emphasizing its products' ability to create music, video, and sketches. Neither the Mac nor the iPad generates as much revenue for Apple as iPhones.

Tablet sales have been declining overall, though Apple saw a 3 percent increase in iPad sales last year to nearly 44 million, commanding a 27 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. Apple has been promoting its high-end iPad Pro as ideal for artists, photographers, and other creators.

The iPad changes are likely enough to drive continued growth in tablet unit sales for Apple, said D.A. Davidson Co. analyst Tom Forte. "The company is doing a nice job of rolling out next-generation devices with features customers want to sustain momentum."

The smaller of the two new Pros will have a larger display, with an 11-inch screen rather than 10.5 inches, as measured diagonally. For the larger, 12.9-inch model, Apple is fitting the same-size display into a smaller device — about the size of a standard sheet of paper.

The new iPads will have an LCD screen similar to the iPhone XR rather than the more vibrant one found in the top-of-the-line iPhone XS models. The displays on the new iPads don't run to the edges as much as they do on the iPhones.

The new iPads start at about $800.

An optional companion pencil will now be able to attach magnetically to the iPad for storage and charging.

Apple is bringing a high-resolution display to its low-end MacBook Air, something until now limited to pricier models such as the MacBook Pro products. But the starting price is now about $1,200, $200 more than before.

The Air also joins higher-end Pros in sporting a fingerprint sensor, something the iPad just lost.

Apple also announced an updated desktop computer, the Mac Mini, starting at about $800.

The company says both Macs will use aluminum left over from producing iPads and other products.

The new MacBook Air and iPad Pros will now use a standard, oval-shaped connector called USB-C. That means accessories using the iPad's old Lightning port will need adapters. But the change will allow people to charge their iPhones through the iPad.

Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the refreshed products are likely to please Apple fans and Apple users.

"The company hadn't updated the Mac Mini for years, and the MacBook Air for a while, so these are very welcome changes," he said. But he said the new features aren't significant enough to cause such a shift from existing Windows devices to Mac products.

"Overall some nice improvements, but I don't think these are game changers," he said. "Nor do I think we'll see some drastic market shifts."

All the new products come out November 7.

Apple also is releasing a free software update for iPhones and iPads on Wednesday with previously announced features such as group video chats on FaceTime.

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