During the virtual ‘Time Flies’ event Apple unveiled its brand new iPad Air alongside a new Apple Watch and the 8th Generation iPad.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced at the end of the talk that iOS 14 will be launching the next day.
The all-new iPad Air has thin bezels, a 12MP rear camera, a 10.9″ liquid retina display (2360 x 1640) and a brand new chip, called the A14 Bionic.
The screen comes fully laminated with True Tone support as well as an anti-reflective coating and the tablet will be powered by a USB-C cable.
As a result of this jam-packed display, the TouchID sensor has merged with the power button and moved to the top of the device.
The brand new iPad Air will be available next month and is set to retail for $599 (R9800) in the US.
In line with expectations, Apple did not mention a new iPhone, which will probably be announced in October due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Apple previously updated its iPad Pro, and is now bringing higher specifications to the rest of its range of tablets.
Alongside the reinvented mid-range Air, Apple also unveiled the 8th Generation iPad which comes with its A12 bionic chip and a 10.2″ retina display.
The tech giant claims the 8th Generation iPad is 40 per cent faster than its predecessor and twice as fast as the top-selling Windows tablet.
iPad 8th Generation will start at $299 (R4900) for education users and is available to order today, with availability on Friday.
Alongside the new hardware, Apple is also rolling out iOS 14 for the tablet which uses the device’s computing power and pencil capability to detect handwritten text.
Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, says of the launch: ‘With the new 8th generation iPad featuring the A12 chip and the new midrange iPad Air’s squared-off, bezel-free design, 2020 is shaping up to be the year of the iPad for Apple.
‘Now, Apple fans can rely on these stylish new watches and iPads to countdown the days and hours until the anticipated launch of the iPhone 12, which now looks likely to appear in October.
‘The phones are expected to include Apple’s first 5G handset and improvements to its camera.’
The firm’s annual showcase was thrown into disarray following the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead of its usual in-person extravaganza, tech fanatics were invited to attend a virtual event streamed from Apple Park in Cupertino, California.
Shortly after launching, the stream had more than one million concurrent viewers.
As well as the tablet upgrades, Apple announced a range of new Apple Watches, including the Series 6 which is decked out with a host of upgrades, including the ability to track blood oxygen levels.
An in-built blood oxygen level sensor shines red and IR light onto the wrist and measures what is reflected back.
The Apple Watch also comes with improved ‘always-on’ display and altimeter.
S6 will also be available in blue aluminium, classic gold, grey/black and, for the first time, Product(RED).
While it has added one marquee new feature and a host of new faces, bands and gimmicks, Apple is also taking a leaf out of the iPhone playbook and is creating an Apple Watch SE.
This uses the S5 chip and is a simplified version of the gadget.
Series 6 Watch (R6500 in the US) Apple Watch SE (R4550 in the US) are available to order today with availability on Friday.
The technology giant also confirmed it was to launch a new exercise subscription service called Fitness+, which is powered by the Apple Watch.
The service, which will cost £9.99 (R215) a month, will enable users to stream fitness classes with professional trainers on their iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, with their exercise metrics automatically tracked by their Apple Watch while also being shown on-screen.
The service will be linked with Apple Music, the tech giant’s music streaming service, to provide playlists for each workout.
As part of that expansion, a new bundle of all its subscription services known as Apple One was announced, which at the top tier will include access to iCloud storage, Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, News+ and Fitness+ for £29.95 (R640) a month.
‘Apple One is a masterstroke and represents a first step into bundles. A move to drive value from users and the untapped opportunity with families,’ says industry expert Paolo Pescatore.
‘Apple recognises the growing importance of services to its future growth. All of the building blocks are in place. Now it is all about strengthening its line of programming across the board. This will pave the way for a new service-based business model.
Apple kept quiet before the event and there was no mention of an iPhone in the run-up to ‘Time Flies’.