Apple announces iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 at California event

Apple has announced the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, updating its formidable tablet lineup just in time for the Christmas shopping season.

The tablets were unveiled at a media event at the company’s Cupertino, California headquarters alongside new Retina-screened iMac computers; the public release date for its new Mac operating system, Yosemite.

The two two iPads have the same sized screens as their predecessors - 9.7 inch and 7.9 inch respectively for the new Air and mini - but a major update for both is the addition of Touch ID, a fingerprint scanner on the Home button which lets you unlock the tablet without a PIN or password. All focus was on the iPad Air 2, which is just 6.1mm thick, 18% thinner than its predecessor.

The two new iPads are available in the same colour options as the iPhone 6, which means silver, gold and Space grey; the former two have a white front, while the third option is black.

Touch ID can also be used to pay for content on iTunes and the App Store, and starting with iOS 8 the system can also be used for making payments online and, with Apple Pay, in retail stores too. Apple Pay is to start in the US on Monday and works with payments via Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Still no word on when Apple Pay will arrive in the UK and Europe…

The two aluminium tablets look very similar to their predecessors, but on the inside there’s been an update to the new A8X processor. Around the back there’s an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording and an f2.4 lens. The new tablet’s camera has a burst mode and can shoot 720p, 120 frame-per-second slow-motion video.

The event also saw Apple update its mobile software to version iOS 8.1, which brings back the Camera Roll, which was deleted in iOS 8 to the widespread annoyance of iPhone users. The 8.1 also brings a feature where any edits made to photos on any iOS device will be reflected on all devices connected to the same Apple ID. Make an edit to a photo on your iPhone and the same changes will be made to that image stored on your iPad, too.

iOS 8.1 will be Avalable to download on Monday, 20 October, while Mac Yosemite is available now from the Mac App Store.

WatchKit, a software development kit - or SDK - for Apple Watch will be available in November for developers to download and create apps for it. Apple CEO Tim Cook again said the company’s smartwatch will arrive in “early 2015” but steered clear from giving a more specific release date.”

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