Apple has announced details of its new iPad Air 2, a new iMac with 27” Retina 5K display and the immediate availability of Yosemite, the latest version of Mac OS X.
Dubbed “the thinnest, most powerful iPad ever”, iPad Air 2 will be 6.1 mm thin, weigh less than 1lb and will be available in gold, silver and space grey, matching the look of Apple’s recent iPhones.
An improved Retina display is included, along with better front and back cameras and Touch ID, which allows an owner to protect and unlock the iPad using fingerprint recognition – a feature filtered down from the iPhone 5S. Touch ID also enables users to authorise purchases using Apple Pay, details of which were also announced in the keynote speech, although this feature is only available in the USA for now.
The iPad Air 2’s shell has been engineered as a precision unibody enclosure of anodised aluminium, while the new Retina display has a fully laminated design that brings images and content closer to the user’s fingertips. A custom-designed anti-reflective coating reduces glare.
Inside, the tablet is powered by Apple’s new A8X chip, with the M8 motion coprocessor that gathers motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and the new barometer, which senses air pressure to provide relative elevation.
Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said,“The iPad is a magical piece of glass that runs more than 675,000 apps and is thin and light enough that you can comfortably hold it all day. [It] has a new Retina display with anti-reflective coating, second generation 64-bit A8X chip, all-new iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, faster Wi-Fi and LTE wireless and includes the revolutionary Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor.”
The iPad mini line has also been updated to include iPad mini 3 with Touch ID and iPad mini with Retina display (now called iPad mini 2).
Back on the desktop, Apple updated two of its core models, namely the iMac and the Mac mini. The new 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display is cited as having “the world’s highest resolution display” with 14.7 million pixels crammed in to its screen.
With a resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels, iMac with Retina 5K display has four times more pixels than the standard 27-inch iMac and 67 per cent more pixels than a 4K display. This results in text as sharp as a printed page and enhanced detail in high-resolution photos and 4K video.
The display on the new iMac uses a precisely manufactured oxide TFT-based panel to deliver vivid display brightness from corner to corner. A single Apple-designed timing controller (TCON) drives all 14.7 million pixels. The computer also uses highly efficient LEDs and organic passivation to improve image quality and reduce display power consumption by 30 per cent. To improve the contrast ratio, it uses a new photo alignment process and compensation film to deliver blacker blacks and more vibrant colours from any viewing angle. The display is also calibrated using three state-of-the-art spectro-radiometers to ensure precise and accurate colour.
The specification inside includes a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor as standard, but can also be configured with a 4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor. The standard memory is 8Gb and a 1Tb Fusion Drive is included for the first time. Buying options include up to 32Gb of memory, a 3Tb Fusion Drive or 1Tb of PCIe-based flash storage.
“Thirty years after the first Mac changed the world, the new iMac with Retina 5K display running OS X Yosemite is the most insanely great Mac we have ever made,” said Schiller. “It’s the most beautiful and powerful iMac ever.”
The base-specification new iMac will retail for £1,999. At the other end of the scale, the new Mac mini has a new lower starting price of £399. The diminutive desktop computer now features fourth-generation Intel Core processors, integrated graphics up to 90 per cent faster than previous models, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Thunderbolt 2 ports supporting peripherals such as external hard drives, displays and audio interfaces.
“People love Mac mini. It’s a great first Mac or addition to your home network and the new Mac mini is a nice upgrade packed into an incredibly compact design,” Schiller said. “The new Mac mini is the best value ever.”
OS X 10.10 aka Yosemite
Both new Mac computers are shipping immediately and will be pre-installed with OS X Yosemite, the latest version of the Mac OS. Yosemite is also available now from the Mac App Store as a free upgrade for qualifying computers.
Redesigned for a modern look, the interface has streamlined toolbars to make more room for content on screen and improved use of translucency to reveal additional app content as the user scrolls. Other translucent elements, such as window sidebars, take on the feel of the desktop picture to give the user a sense of what’s hidden behind the active window. App icons have a clean, consistent design and a new system font improves readability on every Mac.
Yosemite also introduces Continuity, features that connect a Mac and any compatible iOS devices. Handoff automatically passes any task that a user starts, such as writing an email or surfing the web, from one device to another. Instant Hotspot enables an iPhone’s hotspot to be used for internet access just like a Wi-Fi network. Finally, AirDrop now works between Mac and iOS, so users can share content across devices. SMS messages which previously only appeared on a user’s iPhone or iPad can now automatically appear in Messages on the Mac. Users can even make and receive iPhone calls on their Mac.
In essence, Yosemite extends the iPhone and iPad experience to the Mac desktop and laptop, bringing familiar features such as the Today view in Notification Center. Apple’s iCloud Drive is also integrated in Yosemite, so files of any type can be stored in a user’s iCloud account and accessed from any internet-enabled device.
Yosemite also introduces platform technologies that make it easier for developers to create Mac apps. Swift is a powerful, next-generation programming language for iOS and OS X that has been designed to help developers write safer, more reliable code. SpriteKit makes it easier for developers to incorporate realistic motion, lighting and physics in games. When integrated with SceneKit, this makes it easier to create games with animated 3D scenes and effects.
“OS X Yosemite is the most advanced version of OS X we’ve ever built,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “OS X Yosemite ushers in the future of computing, where your Apple devices all work together seamlessly and magically. It’s something only Apple can do and it’s available today.”
iPad Air 2 infographic