Apple surprises are hard to come by these days -- a fact for which even the hermetically secretive company itself is to blame. Nevertheless, Tim Cook officially took to the stage in Cupertino, Calif., this morning to unveil two new devices that likely sounded familiar to spectators: the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.
The latest iPads -- which look a lot like their predecessors, save for the addition of Touch ID home buttons and a new gold color option -- arrive as consumer attitudes towards tablets have noticeably cooled.
To be fair, iPads comprise Apple’s second biggest revenue stream, exceeding $30 billion annually. Today, Tim Cook said the company had sold over 225 million iPads, which operate a total of 675,000 custom-built apps.
But sales have declined steadily in recent months, reports The New York Times. Amid swelling phones and cheaper, thinner laptops, consumers have become less enticed by the category -- particularly given Apple’s premium pricing.
In this vein, the new iPads feel more like a gradual improvement over previous models as opposed to the giant leap forward of the company’s wildly successful new line of iPhones.
The iPad Air 2 is 18 percent thinner than the first version, featuring anti-reflective coating, faster processing speeds and a new 8-megapixel camera. Perhaps most notably, it now boasts Touch ID and will thus be compatible with Apple Pay -- but only for online purchases, not for use within retail stores. The iPad Air 2 is priced at $499 for 16 GB, $599 for 64 GB and $699 for 128 GB. LTE versions cost an additional $130 for every model.
The latest iPad Mini 3 also now features Touch ID. Pricing will be $100 less than the iPad Air 2 for each corresponding model.
Both devices will be available for preorder tomorrow and begin shipping next week.