Apple launches iPad Pros with faster chips, slim iMacs, tracking tags
SAN FRANCISCO: Apple has announced a range of new computers, a paid podcasting service and devices for finding lost items, signaling the continued expansion of its product line.
The new $30 AirTags, tiny devices that can be attached to items such as keys and wallets to locate them when they are lost, were applauded as a likely hot-seller that would also keep the company’s more than one billion customers locked into its products.
A new iPad Pro tablet, featuring the same Apple-designed processor that powers the company’s more recent Mac computers, has keyboard and trackpad options that help make it a full-blown alternative to traditional laptops and desktops.
And a refresh of the Mac desktop line boasts seven color options, harkening back to the famous candy-colored Macs that helped Steve Jobs revive the company in the 1990s.
The announcements show how the iPhone maker is accelerating the expansion of its product portfolio and working to keep customers committed to its family of devices. Most of the product introductions had been telegraphed before the presentation, which had no major surprises.
The new iMacs, which start at $1,299, feature a higher quality front-facing camera and microphone, responding to complaints from consumers during the pandemic that the computer’s cameras had not kept pace with iPhones and iPads during an era of pervasive video calls.
The new iPad Pros, starting at $799, use the same M1 chip as Apple’s other computers, rather than the beefed-up version of iPhone chips found in previous models. The tablets also have additional ports for connecting monitors and 5G connectivity, while featuring a higher-quality display than the company’s laptops.
Apple also announced podcast subscription services that will compete with rival Spotify, a move to regain ground in a market it popularized years ago but never made money from.
Apple shares have risen nearly 95% over the past year, faster than the 63% rise in the Nasdaq Composite Index, thanks to a record $274.5 billion in sales for fiscal 2020 as consumers stocked up on electronics during the pandemic.
The AirTags announcement could result in a new round of complaints to lawmakers that Apple is hurting smaller rivals. Tile, a private company that has sold a competing tracker for nearly a decade, last year testified before the US House of Representatives that Apple’s App Store rules had made it harder to use Tile’s products and will be called before the US Senate to testify on Wednesday.
Apple has said it subjects all apps, including its own, to the same App Store review rules, and recently allowed third-party developers to access the same systems as its AirTags.