What just happened? Apple has revealed refreshed versions of the MacBook Air and the Mac mini, both of which now come with more storage as standard. The iPad Pro has also received a full revamp, now powered by an updated A12Z Bionic SoC alongside a new Magic Keyboard accessory that features a built-in trackpad.
Users disappointed with Apple's butterfly keyboards on the MacBook Air will be pleased to know that the ultrabook's latest version now comes with scissor switches like its bigger 16-inch Pro sibling and gets a performance boost with Intel's 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs. Base models get dual-core Intel Core i3 and i5 processors, configurable up to a 1.2Ghz quad-core i7.
Thanks to Intel Iris Plus graphics, Apple also notes performance improvements of up to 80 percent in daily workloads like video editing and playing games. The laptop's base storage now starts at 256GB, doubling the previous amount, and maxes out at 2TB.
Apple is also touting these additional features in the new MacBook Air:
- A three-mic array for more clear voice capture for FaceTime calls
- Force Touch trackpad for precise cursor control and multi-touch navigation
- Thunderbolt 3 ports for data transfer, charging and video output in a single connector
- Support for up to a 6K external display (including the Pro Display XDR), a first for MacBook Air
The new MacBook Air is now available to buy with a $999 starting price or $899 for students. A fully configured machine goes up to $1,500 and above, but perhaps what's most important is that base machines receive Apple's usual combination of solid build quality, great quality display, and now a more reliable keyboard.
iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard
Apple's latest iPad Pro is now powered by a new A12Z Bionic chip. The updated silicon includes an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, which offers the "highest performance ever in an iPad," along with 10-hours of battery life and 60% faster LTE speeds.
Apple even goes on to claim that the device is "more powerful than most Windows PC laptops."
The most noticeable update to the iPad Pro, however, is added support for the new magnetic Magic Keyboard that features a floating design and cantilevered hinges to support viewing angles of up to 130 degrees.
Interestingly, the accessory is backward compatible with last year's iPad Pro models and comes with a USB-C passthrough for charging and features a backlit, scissor-switch keyboard with 1mm key travel.
Both 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad models feature a new camera array that features a 12MP camera and a 10MP Ultra Wide camera, improved mics and a LiDAR scanner for depth-sensing. This last addition is meant to be used for augmented reality applications.
This cursor behaviour is not like a PC. It’s like a hybrid of focus engine and normal mouse pointer. Super interesting. pic.twitter.com/BC0tAhdJEZ— Benjamin Mayo (@bzamayo) March 18, 2020
There's trackpad support here as well, with the upcoming iPadOS 13.4 update (dropping on March 24). Apple says that the cursor experience has not been copied from macOS, but "completely reimagined for iPad." You can take a peek on the video below how the cursor works, jumping from one actionable option/button to another, it'll be interesting to see how users adopt this. With the iPadOS update, third-party apps are expected to work with the trackpad without any update required.
As is usually the case with Apple accessories, the Magic Keyboard comes at a premium and will cost $299 for the 11-inch model and $349 for the 12.9-inch version, with availability expected sometime in May. Both iPad Pros carry identical pricing to previous versions but receive double the base storage at 128GB. Ordering is now live with deliveries expected later this month.
The last of Apple's refreshed hardware includes the Mac mini. The small PC gets an update in storage space, doubling it for the base version which now starts at 256GB for $799, while the new 512GB config starts at $1,099.