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Apple unveils new iPad Pro with ‘outrageously powerful’ AI-powered chip

Apple is hoping its latest iPad lineup will breathe new life into its sluggish tablet market.

In a pre-recorded live streamed event from its Cupertino, California headquarters, the company introduced the latest versions of its iPad Pro and iPad Air tablets, and an all-new Apple Pencil Pro.

CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday’s announcement marked “the biggest day for iPad since its introduction.”

At the heart of the new iPad Pro is Apple’s new custom M4 processor, which delivers 4 times the performance as its existing iPad Pro models. Considering Apple’s latest MacBook lineup currently runs on the M3 chip, this is, as Cook put it, an “outrageously powerful chip for AI.”

The company is expected to show off its first batch of AI-tools for the iPhone and iPad at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

The latest iPad Pro comes in two sizes: 11 inches and 13 inches. Apple said the 11-inch model is its thinnest yet, at 5.1 mm, and less than a pound. The display combines two OLED panels to maximize brightness. The iPad Pro comes in two finishes, silver and space black.

Apple showed off its latest and most powerful iPad yet - Apple
Apple showed off its latest and most powerful iPad yet – Apple

Meanwhile, the iPad Air, for the first time, comes in the same two sizes: an 11-inch ($599) and 13-inch ($799) design. The bigger size, inspired by the iPad Pro with a larger screen, has 30% more screen real estate than the 11-inch display.

The iPad Air is powered by Apple’s custom M2 processor with faster GPU and neural engine that’s 50% faster than the previous iPad Air. The company said it better supports AI-powered software. It also features a front-facing landscape camera.

Meanwhile, an upgraded Apple Pencil ($129) comes with a new squeeze function that allows users to bring up tools, customize drawing layers of what they’re working on and includes haptic feedback. It also supports Find My to locate the pencil when it inevitably goes missing.

Apple also showed off a redesigned Magic Keyboard with a haptic trackpad to make the iPad more like a laptop. Some key apps, including Final Cut, also received substantial upgrades, including the ability to add AI-based audio or edit with AI.

The new iPad lineup is available for pre-order starting Tuesday and in stores next week.

The event comes just days after Apple reported its iPad revenue of $5.6 billion for its latest quarter, down 17% year over year. However, the company said it expects its iPad business to grow in double digits for the June quarter.

Apple also reported last week a first-quarter revenue of $90.8 billion, down 4% year over year, as the tech giant continues to struggle with growth challenges, particularly in China, amid an uncertain economic environment. It announced a $110 billion share buyback – the largest in the company’s history – as iPhones sales declined 10%.

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