Apple CEO Tim Cook calls the iPad “a simple multitouch piece of glass that instantly transforms into anything you want it to be” — and during today’s special event in San Francisco, the company took the product even further with “the biggest news in iPad since the iPad.”
Following an update on Apple Watch 2 and a teaser video, Cook debuted the long-rumored iPad Pro, which he called “the most capable and powerful iPad we’ve ever created. It is chock full of amazing technologies and innovations.”
Apple marketing VP Phil Schiller then took the stage to elaborate more on the company’s iPad Pro plans, featuring a 12.9-inch display packing 5.6 million pixels — the most on any iOS device to date — and a full-size software keyboard promising a superior typing experience.
Powering the iPad Pro is a new A9X chip, which is Apple’s third-generation 64-bit processor offering double the graphics performance of the previous A8X and a 2x increase in read/write to onboard storage. The screen also includes a variable refresh rate for improved power savings.
Perhaps most impressive, Schiller claims iPad Pro is 360x times faster than the original iPad introduced in 2010, a remarkable speed increase in only five years. Apple claims iPad Pro is faster than 80 percent of portable PCs, and makes possible all-new apps such as AutoCAD.
Featuring 10-hour battery life and four on-board speakers with automatic sound balancing depending upon how the device is held, iPad Pro is only 6.9mm thick, and weighs nearly the same as the original iPad at 1.57 lb.
Moving on to accessories, iPad Pro users will be able to pick up a Smart Keyboard covered with woven fabric, and uses a “smart connector” to magnetically attach to the tablet. Schiller also promises “a new level of accuracy” from the Apple Pencil, a precision stylus device for artists.
According to the Apple promo video narrated by Jonathan Ive, Apple Pencil uses “force data” for pressure sensitivity, and recharges directly from iPad Pro with an on-board Lightning connector.
iPad Pro owners can look forward to all-new Mail and Notes apps, and plenty of others are on the way, including updates to Microsoft’s Office lineup. Using Word for iPad, Microsoft showed off new pen tool features similar to those in the company’s own Surface tablet.
Next up: Adobe, showing off a trio of recent additions to the Creative Cloud lineup. A new app called Adobe Photoshop Fix makes it insanely easy to correct images on iPad Pro using facial recognition, turning a model’s frown into a smile with just a gesture. Adobe also showed how the existing Comp and Illustrator Sketch apps integrate and work perfectly with iOS 9′s new multitasking feature.
The final demonstration came courtesy of 3D4Medical, who showed off how iPad Pro can help doctors explain procedures with patients using interactive 3D models. Apple Pencil can also be used to virtually “cut” the on-screen models and show the inner workings of the human body in never-before-seen detail.
Available in the usual silver, gold, and space grey colors, iPad Pro is priced at 9 for 32GB, 9 for 128GB, or 79 for 128GB with LTE and arrives in November, along with the Apple Pencil and 9 Smart Keyboard.
Not to be left out, iPad mini 2 now becomes the entry-level tablet in Apple’s lineup, now starting at only 9. A new iPad mini 4 model starting at 9 brings the guts of an iPad Air 2 into a smaller frame, while the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 continue to be available starting at 9 and 9, respectively.
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