Apple Unveils Thinner iPad, Sharper iMac

With Apple products shown behind him, CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event introducing new iPads. (PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
With Apple products shown behind him, CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event introducing new iPads. (PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Apple unveiled its new line of products on Thursday, including a thinner iPad that gives customers the ability to unlock the device and purchase items with their fingerprints.

The iPad Air 2 has a screen that’s 6.1 millimeters thick — thinner than a pencil and nearly 20 percent more slender than the first generation iPad Air. The new device, which at $499 for a 16-GB wireless model, also has a faster processor, better cameras and fingerprint reading feature Touch ID.

Apple also showcased its new iPad Mini 3 with Touch ID, which starts at $399 for a 16-GB wireless device.

Orders for the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 start Friday. Both devices will ship next week.

Analysts predict the new features will be enough for Apple to hold onto its position as a market leader in tablets. About 37 percent of U.S. households owned an Apple tablet in the first quarter, compared with 16 percent with an Amazon tablet and 14 percent with a Samsung tablet, according to research and consulting firm Parks Associates. The firm surveyed 10,000 U.S. households.

The iPad Air 2’s faster processor and Touch ID could also be enough to convince owners of older iPads to buy new tablets. This has been a major challenge for Apple, as well as makers of other tablets, as little other than the weight and size of the devices has changed since their introduction.

“Apple creates great products that almost last forever. A lot of people didn’t feel the need to upgrade,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. “I think Apple gave them enough (reason) now, to consider upgrading to the newest iPad.”

Apple also launched an iMac with a 5K retina display, touting it as the world’s highest-resolution display. The computer costs $2,499, with a display that’s 27 inches and has 14.7 million pixels. Bajarin called this product “game changing” because it would force Apple’s competitors to move to higher resolution screens. The iMac is now available for purchase.

Apple’s newest Mac operating system, Yosemite, also launched Thursday. The system allows users more continuity between Apple devices that are connected to iCloud. For example, a user could make a phone call with a MacBook, using the computer as a speakerphone.

“Those are nice to have features and is likely to keep the loyal Apple buyer happy,” said Van Baker, a research director for Gartner’s mobile and client computing services.

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Wendy Lee

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