Apple unveils new iPad Air and iPad mini

Chris Hall
Apple unveils new iPad Air and iPad mini

Apple has this evening officially launched the next generation of iPad and iPad Mini, which sees the iPad slimmed down to just 7.5mm wide, while its little brother benefits from the high-quality "retina" screen already found on other devices.

The launch, which began with the words 'If everyone's busy making something, then how can anyone perfect anything?' saw Apple unveil a raft of new products and updates.

The iPad upgrades are in line with rumours preceding the event, which predicted that the new tablets would be thinner and have Apple's "retina" quality touchscreen displays. Anyone waiting for a range of brightly coloured iPads will be disappointed however: the iPad Air is available in white and silver, and the new iPad Mini in white, silver, grey and charcoal.

As well as being thinner, the iPad Air weighs less than before, at just over 450g. Apple claim there will be no loss in battery life despite the smaller size.

The iPad Air will be replacing the top-of-the-range iPad, with prices starting at £399 for the WiFi 16GB model. The cheaper iPad2 will remain on sale. The updated iPad Mini will start at £319 - also WiFi, 16GB.

Other changes include a new processor, the 64-bit A7, which offers twice the performance of the fourth generation iPad. Graphics processing should also be faster, meaning files open quicker and play smoother. Wi-Fi and LTE performance are also improved.

The email announcing the launch event had said 'We have a lot to cover', which had led many to speculate that Apple would also release a new range of covers for iPad and iPad mini. These rumours were proved correct as Apple announced a new selection of polyurethane and leather covers for both iPad Air and iPad Mini.

This launch now means Nokia, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have all launched new flagship tablets in the last fortnight. With low-budget options also on offer from Tesco and Argos, Apple may find their market share diminishing even further; prior to the launch Bloomberg reported that Apple's tablet market share had shrunk from 60% to 32% year-on-year.

Apple also announced that its new operating system, OSX - which has been named Mavericks, after one of the most famous, most hazardous surfing bays in Northern California - is now available for free. New features of Mavericks include a 'compressed memory' system, allowing Macs to function faster without any increase in RAM, as well as improved graphics performance.

The Mac platform is also getting a new maps app, which includes 3D 'flyover' views as well as directions, and the iBooks library app. A new Mac Pro computer was also announced, as well as new versions of the MacBook Pro.