Apple hails iPad Air 'leap forward'
Apple has launched its new generation tablet the iPad Air, describing it as a giant leap forward.
The new device is slimmer, lighter, faster and more powerful than the previous model, the computing giant announced.
It weighs 1lb, compared to 1.4lb of the iPad 4, and is 7.5mm thin compared to 9.4mm - making it 20% thinner.
There is also 43% smaller bezel around the edge of the screen.
Apple also unveiled a new iPad mini with a retina display, which will be available later in November.
They will both come in silver/white and grey/black versions.
Speaking at the Yerba Buena Centre in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: "I couldn't be prouder of both new iPads."
He said he could not think of another product that had come so far, so fast, adding: "We want to help our customers create even more amazing stories, because we know this is just the beginning for iPad, and so we've been busy working on the next generation of iPad."
Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing described it as a "screaming fast iPad", with faster graphics and wifi access.
He described the iPad Air as "a whole new generation" and added: "This is probably our biggest leap forward."
It will be the lightest full-sized tablet in the world, according to Apple.
"When you hold it, it will be a dramatically different experience," said Mr Schiller.
He said every possible hundredth of an inch had been shaved off to make it so thin.
"To make an iPad this thin took a huge amount of work, over years," he added. "The first time you pick it up and feel it yourself, you will understand why we're so excited about it."
It has a 9.7 inch retina display and an A7 chip inside, with over a billion transistors.
It offers a twofold increase in rendering, is twice as fast at opening files and has double the graphics performance of the iPad 4.
Other key features include a new FaceTime HD camera and dual microphones.
The iPad Air, which will have the same 10-hour battery life as its predecessor, will be available on November 1 in the UK and many other countries around the world.
It will cost from £399, including VAT, the price for the 16GB WiFi model. The price increases to £479 for the 32GB model, £559 for 64GB and £639 for 128GB. The WiFi Cellular versions will be £100 more expensive in each case.
The iPad 2 will now cost £329 for WiFi with 16GB, and £429 with 3G.
The new version of the iPad mini has the same 2048x1536 pixels of the iPad Air and the same apps will run on each. It is also powered by the A7 chip, which Mr Schiller described as "a big jump in performance".
It will be up to four times faster at graphics than the first generation model. It will also have double the WiFi speed and expanded support for broadband wireless networks, like the iPad Air.
The new iPad mini costs from £319, for the WiFi 16GB version, rising to £399 for 32GB, £479 for 64GB and £559 for 128GB. Again, the cost for the WiFi cellular version is £100 extra in each case.
The cost of the original iPad mini has been lowered to a starting price of £249 for the 16GB version, with the cost £349 for the WiFi cellular model. Mr Schiller said this was the lowest price ever.
A range of new covers and cases for iPads was revealed, coming in a range of colours. They do not feature an integrated keyboard however, which some experts had predicted would be unveiled.
Mr Cook told several hundred technology reporters at the US event, which was livestreamed around the world, including to a launch event at Kings Place in north London, that 170m iPads had now been sold, the landmark figure being reached earlier this month.
There are now 475,000 iPad apps available for the device.
Mr Cook said that despite initial doubters when the product launched more than three years ago, it has gone from strength to strength.
"We really believed in our vision, and iPad has gone on to become one of the most successful products in Apple's history, and one of the most successful in the industry," he added.
He joked: "Now everyone seems to be making a tablet - even some of the doubters."
Mr Cook said he "never imagined" some of the ways the product would be used by customers, and that he was proud it rated so highly for customer satisfaction.
An updated operating system for Apple Macs was also announced at the launch.
Known as OS X Mavericks, it is available for download now and will be free to all customers with a compatible Mac, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software technology said.
It gives an extended battery life, offering up to an hour longer web browsing on a single charge. This equates to 1.5 hours longer for watching iTunes films playback.
It also increases memory with a new memory compression function, allowing users to fit 6GB of data into 4GB of system RAM.
Mr Federighi said this means: "You can run more applications, and never slow down."
There are new maps and iBook apps, and an improved calendar function.
Apple iWork apps - document app Pages, spreadsheet app Numbers and presentation app Keynote - will be free with any new iOS device or Mac and are available now.
Their iLife products - iPhoto, iVideo and music maker Garage Band - are also free on compatible devices .
The announcement also included the unveiling of new revamped MacBook Pros with longer-lasting batteries and improved graphics. Apple also used the event to tell customers the new Mac Pro will be available from December.