Those were the two key words from Tuesday afternoon’s Apple event. From OS X Mavericks to the new iPads (and everything in between), those two words – free and air – drove Apple’s presentation. Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s event.
New iPads: iPad Air
Apple showed off not one but two new iPad models on Tuesday – a new full-sized iPad dubbed the iPad Air, as well as an iPad mini featuring a Retina display. Both of these units will be available in November in silver/white and space grey/black; the iPad Air ships November 1, while the mini’s launch was billed with a vague “later in the month” date.
The iPad Air is the thinnest and lightest full sized iPad ever. At just 7.5mm thick, it’s 20 percent thinner than its predecessor. It’s also one-third lighter, weighing in at 1.0 pound (as opposed to 1.44 before). Its thinner bezel makes it look like a big iPad mini. The iPad Air packs the same A7 chip that’s in the iPhone 5s, which means 8x faster processor performance and 72x faster graphics performance. It also has Wi-Fi with MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) that’s twice as fast as before.
The iPad Air ships on November 1 at the same price points as previous iPad iterations. The iPad 2 survives (again), and will start at $399, just as it has.
New iPads: iPad mini with Retina Display
Apple also unveiled a brand new iPad mini, the first new model since the smaller form factor was introduced last year. It packs a Retina display that features the same resolution as the iPad Air, but with a smaller screen size it packs far more pixels per square inch. Like the iPad Air and iPhone 5s, the new iPad mini also features an A7 processor, which Apple touts as “desktop class.”
The new iPad mini will launch “later in November” and will start at $399; that’s $70 more than the first generation iPad mini’s original price point. Speaking of the original, it’s sticking around, too. Apple announced the first iPad mini will still be available for purchase, and is even receiving a $30 price cut.
That means that this holiday season, if you’re buying an iPad, you’ll have four models to choose from: iPad 2, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina Display.
Also available for both the iPad Air and new iPad mini are new cases. Apple revealed two new cases for each model. There’s a standard cover (like what’s been available for the past few iPad models), which costs $39. There will also be a leather version for $79. There will also be a full body case for $79, as well.
What We Didn’t Get: The rumor mill had suggested Apple was working on a Microsoft Surface-like keyboard cover for the iPad. Whether it’s coming in the future, who knows? It wasn’t shown off on Tuesday. Also, contrary to other reports, neither of the new iPad models have Touch ID; that remains (for now) exclusive to the iPhone 5s
OS X Mavericks: A Free Operating System
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Apple’s event was the announcement that every user with a Mac computer (at least, from the last handful of years) would be able to download the company’s newest operating system, OS X Mavericks, for free. Not only that, Mavericks is available for download today.
Much of the benefit that Mavericks brings to your computer is a significant boost in battery life. Apple said you can expect to get an extra hour of web browsing time or an extra 90 minutes of iTunes video watching time just by upgrading to the latest OS. Mavericks also brings with it new apps, including iBooks and Maps, as well as a more convenient notification system.
Refreshed MacBooks and a Completely Re-Designed Mac Pro
Apple showed off refreshed lines of its personal computers as well. The newest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models now feature Intel’s Haswell chips, delivering Iris graphics and battery life improvements. Apple unveiled new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros and said the new 13-inch MacBook Pro will start at $1,299, $200 less than its previous list price. It starts shipping immediately. The biggers, 15-inch model will start at $1,999 and also ships immediately.
If you need the most power that Apple offers, the Mac Pro is for you. The Mac Pro has undergone a complete visual overhaul; it’s black and cylindrical now. It’ll be available later this year starting at $2,999, which gives you a rig with a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon processor, 12GB DRAM, 2GB VRAM and 256GB of solid state storage. The units are assembled in the US and support 4K HDMI video. They’ve been specially designed for Final Cut Pro 10 and Aperture for video and image editing.
What We Didn’t Get: There was no mention of the Mac Mini, aside from a comparison as to how quiet the Mac Pro is.
Software Has Been Re-Designed, Too
Apple also announced updates to its iWork (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) and iLife (Garageband, iPhone, iMovie) suites. Both of these suites will be available for free with the purchase of a new Mac or iOS device. The updated versions are available today. The programs all feature simpler and cleaner designs, as well as new features like “Movie Theater,” which lets you watch your iMovie clips across multiple devices.