Apple officially revealed the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3 at today's big event in Cupertino, California. In addition, the new OS X Yosemite software was introduced, as well as the the Retina iMac and a launch date for the company's new mobile payment system, Apple Pay.
iPad Air 2
The iPad Air 2 will be the thinnest iPad to date at 6.1 millimetersm making it 18 percent thinner than the iPad Air. Improvements to its processor, graphics, and camera make for an overal beefier product over the original iPad Air. As expected, the iPad Air 2 will come with TouchID for fingerprint security on your tablet and the ability to take time lapse and slow motion video for the first time on an iPad.
If you're into using your iPad Air 2 for more than just around the house in the comforts of your own wifi network, the LTE addition includes an interesting upgrade for this new version. Thanks to an Apple SIM card that comes pre-installed on cellular models, you can switch between carriers -- that's AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile -- at any time. That's 20 bands of LTE coverage that give you the flexibility of experimenting with short-term plans with no commitments. Oddly enough, Verizon's network is not supported at this time.
Previous iPads didn't allow this much flexibility; once you signed up for a carrier, your device was locked into that carrier's plan.
The iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for the 16GB version, $599 for the 64GB version, and $699 for the 128GB version. These prices reflect wifi-only capability, and if you'd like to upgrade to LTE, you're looking at another $130 for each model. Though Apple hasn't confirmed a release date yet, pre-orders are now available in the Apple Store for a ship date of next week.
Meanwhile, major carriers including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon will all carry the iPad Air 2 but they haven't announced a release date yet.
iPad Mini 3
The third generation of the iPad Mini bring fewer improvements than the iPad Air 2, but it will see the addition of the TouchID sensor. The iPad Mini 3 will also enjoy the Apple SIM capabilities of the iPad Air 2, so carrier loyalty is no longer an issue with either tablet. No word yet on the availability of this feature on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.
Prices for the iPad Mini 3 start at $399 for the 16GB version with pre-orders starting today and shipments following through next week.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the event that 500 banks and many of the world's largest retailers have joined together with Apple on the Apple Pay service, allowing mobile digital payments straight from your Apple devices.
Apple Pay was first announced during the September 9th event that unveiled the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but now we get official word that this service will launch on Monday, October 20 along with the new iOS 8.1.