Tech

Apple announces new iPad Pro with camera that can scan 3-D objects and new MacBook Air

Key Points
  • Apple announced new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros.
  • They offer new 3D-scanning camera technology.
  • Apple's new MacBook Air has a redesigned keyboard, and orders begin Wednesday.
Apple's new iPad Pro 2020.
Apple

Apple announced a new iPad Pro and MacBook Air on Wednesday. The product launches came through a press release instead of Apple's typical spring in-person event as companies work to increase social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Apple Stores around the world are closed until March 27, and are closed indefinitely in the U.S. but recently reopened in China. That means most customers who are interested in the products, at least for now, may not be able to try them before making a purchase. 

Here are the details on the new iPad Pro and MacBook Air:

2020 iPad Pro

Beginning next week, the iPad Pro will ship in two sizes — 11- and 12.9-inch models — starting at $799 and $999, respectively.

The new iPads feature a lidar scanner in the camera system that can be used to measure the distance to objects in a room. Apple says this will allow for "a whole new class" of augmented reality experiences on the iPad. AR allows you to place digital objects on top of the real world, and Apple has been investing a lot in the technology. Before now, Apple has used cameras instead of lidar sensors to enable AR.

There are also additional cameras, including a wide-angle lens that captures video in 4K and an ultrawide angle lens with zoom that lets you fit more people and objects into a picture. These features are also on Apple's iPhone 11 models.

Apple also introduced a new keyboard accessory that includes a laptop-style track pad for the iPad for the first time. The new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro will be available in May for $299 for the 11-inch model and $349 for the 12.9-inch model. The track pad will let people use a mouse cursor, just like on a laptop, to navigate around on the display. A software update that includes support for the track pad will be released Tuesday, Apple said.

The Magic Keyboard will also work with the previous version of the iPad Pro, which launched in the fall of 2018.

The new iPad has been rumored for months, but there have been recent questions about whether or not Apple would be able to launch it in the spring after suffering production slowdowns in China due to the coronavirus.

2020 MacBook Air

The 2020 MacBook Air has a redesigned keyboard.
Apple

Apple's new MacBook Air has a redesigned Magic Keyboard using the same style introduced in the 16-inch MacBook Pro late last year. It finally fixes lots of the issues people experienced, including jamming and accidental key presses.

It starts at $999 and is available to order beginning Wednesday, with shipping beginning next week. But unlike earlier models, Apple is doubling the storage from 128GB to 256GB on the entry-level models. That means you'll have more space for apps and movies than you normally would at $999.

Other features include improved microphones, again something we saw on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, so that you sound clearer when you talk online with other people, like over FaceTime. It also includes support for up to a 6K external display with new Thunderbolt 3 ports, new stereo speakers and support for up to 2TB of storage. It uses a Touch ID fingerprint sensor that you can use for logging in to the laptop or for making purchases online.

What about the rumored 'cheap' iPhone?

Perhaps more interesting than what Apple did announce Wednesday was what it didn't announce.

The company has long been rumored to launch a cheaper model of the iPhone this spring. The device was said to have a design similar to the iPhone 8, but many of the same modern internal components like processors and cameras found in the iPhone 11. It would have been the successor to 2016's iPhone SE.

But Apple didn't announce that cheaper iPhone, and it's possible that production delays and other issues caused by the coronavirus led Apple to delay or scrap the device.

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