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The Lowdown: Apple Unveils iPad Air & New iPad Mini; Debuts New iLife & iWork Suite


In time for the holiday season, Apple has introduced new iPads, refreshed its MacBook Pro lineup, launched Mac Pro apart from several software announcements, at a press conference in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (US).

All the OS X announcements are here. A quick lowdown on all the iOS announcements below:

iPhone Sales: Apple CEO Tim Cook said they sold 9 million iPhones in its opening weekend, a number which was first disclosed by Apple last month.

He also noted that more than 200 million devices were upgraded to iOS 7 in its first five days of launch last month and as of yesterday, more than 64% of iOS devices are running on the latest iOS version. In comparison, only 1.5% of Android devices currently run on the latest Android version, Android 4.3, which was released in July 2013.

App Store Stats: There are more than one million apps on the App Store, of which 475,000 apps are specifically designed for iPad.

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The App Store has generated around 60 billion cumulative downloads until now, up from 50 billion downloads reported in May 2013. In comparison, Google had claimed to have more than one million apps in Play Store and generated more than 50 billion app installs as of July 2013.

Cook also mentioned that Apple has paid out over $13 billion to developers until now, up from $10 billion reported in June 2013.

iTunes Radio: Apple’s streaming music service iTunes Radio has over 20 million listeners and more than one billion songs have been played on the service. Note that the service is currently available only in the United States.

iPad Air: Apple claimed that it has sold 170 million iPads since its launch three and half years ago. It also announced the fifth generation of the iPad, dubbed iPad Air that will feature a 9.7″ retina display and runs on the 64-bit Apple A7 processor. The company claimed that this tablet is 20% thinner and 28% lighter than its predecessor, coming in at 7.5 mm thickness and one pound weight.

Other features include a 5 megapixel iSight Camera, 1080p HD Video, new FaceTime HD front camera, motion co-processor M7, faster WiFi with MIMO support, dual mics and up to 10 hours reported battery life.

iPad Air Mini

iPad Air will be available in two colors – silver and space grey and will start shipping in 41 countries on November 1. There is currently no word on India availability yet. The WiFi only variants will be available starting at $499 (16GB), $599 (32GB), $699 (64GB) and $799 (128GB) while the WiFi+ Cellular will be available starting at $629 (16GB), $729 (32GB), $829 (64GB) and $929 (128GB).

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Interestingly though, Apple mentioned that iPad 2 will continue to be available at $399 (16GB WiFi only) and $529 (16 GB WiFi+Cellular).

Retina iPad Mini: Apple also unveiled the second generation of iPad Mini, bringing in retina display to the tablet. The new version features a 7.9″ Retina display with 2048*1536 resolution, 64-bit Apple A7 processor and a reported 10 hours of battery life.

iPad Mini

It will also be available in two colors – silver and space grey and is expected to start shipping later in November. The WiFi only variants will be available starting at $399 (16GB), $499 (32GB), $599 (64GB) and $699 (128GB) while the WiFi+ Cellular will be available starting at $529 (16GB), $629 (32GB), $729 (64GB) and $829 (128GB).

The original iPad Mini will continue to be available at reduced prices of $299 (16GB WiFi version) and $429 (16GB WiFi+ Cellular).

Next Generation iLife apps: Apple has redesigned its iLife apps (iPhoto, iMovie and Garageband) for iOS and Mac. The iOS apps have been redesigned to support the new 64-bit Apple A7 processor, introduced with iPhone 5S last month.

Garageband has received the biggest update among the three, with the Mac app receiving a new redesigned Sound Library, a new drummer feature which analyses the music and automatically generates different beats in various professional drummer styles. Few drummer styles are pre-loaded and users can purchase all the profiles with additional instruments through an in-app purchase of Rs 270. The iOS 7 app now supports 16 tracks (up from 8 tracks) in non-64 bit devices and supports 32 tracks in 64-bit devices. It also now feature iCloud support, which allows users to start a song on an iOS device and later open it on a Mac.

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iPhoto has been redesigned and now allows users to create photobooks on their iPad while the redesigned iMovie iPad app brings in split screen and picture-in-picture effects. There is also a new feature called iMovie Theater which allows users to watch their shared clips, movies, and trailers across all their Apple devices, as long as it is stored in iCloud.

The apps will be available for free on new Mac and iOS device purchases and and existing users running Mavericks can update their apps for free from the Mac App Store.

New iWork Apps: Apple also released updated versions of its iWork apps (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) and rolled out a new unified file format across Mac, iOS and iCloud. It has also introduced real time collaborative editing in iWork for iCloud. Last month, Apple had mentioned that it will be offering its iWork apps for free on all new iOS and Mac devices.

iOS 7.0.3 update: While this was not mentioned at the event, Apple has released a new update to iOS 7, added iCloud Keychain support, password generator for Safari, an option to reduce animations and transitions in the operating system, ability to search Google and Wikipedia through Spotlight, and fixed several bugs.

New App Updates: Apple has also released updated versions of Podcasts, Find My iPhone, and the iTunes Movie Trailers app. Of these, Podcast app has received a significant update, bringing in a new design, a new search tab, an updated Top Charts feature and auto-updating to automatically download new episodes even when the app is not open.

New iPad covers: Apple also released new iPad covers for iPad Air and the retina iPad Mini, with smart covers priced at $39 and full cover leather cases available at $69 (iPad Mini) and $79 (iPad Air).

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