Apple on Wednesday made a surprise announcement of new versions of its iPad Pro, Mac Mini and MacBook Air devices, but stopped short of announcing the iPhone 9 it was expected to reveal this spring.
The reveals came in the form of a press release rather than at its traditional March keynote presentation, thanks to the coronavirus which has seen northern California placed under a shelter-in-place order.
Apple surprised some insiders, however, by not unveiling the iPhone 9, which high-profile analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had predicted would be launched along with the other products at what was then predicted to be a March 31 keynote.
The iPad Pro update adds two lenses to its rear-facing camera system, bringing it in line with the iPhone Pro family of phones which both have wide-angle and ultra wide-angle lenses. The Pro’s camera system will also feature a LIDAR Scanner, which Apple in a press release claimed will allow for “a whole new class of AR experiences.”
Apple also finally gave customers something they have been requesting for years: a laptop-like for the iPad. The iPad Pro will work with a new Apple-made keyboard stand that features a trackpad, which Apple says will give users “an all new way” to interact with the device.
The iPad Pro will come in 11-inch and 12.9 inch sizes, with the former starting at $799 while the larger model starts at $999. The keyboard stand starts at $299.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company made official that it was officially ditching its much-hated “butterfly” keyboard in its MacBook Air computers, with the new line of laptops featuring the new keyboard design recently introduced with the 16-inch MacBook Pro in late 2019.
The redesigned keys are a response to the “butterfly” keyboard which Apple introduced to enable ever-thinner laptop designs, but which proved faulty.
In addition to keys that are prone to sticking and breaking when crumbs or dust gets under them, users griped that the butterfly keys were prone to typos and felt weird to type on.
Apple’s press release states that its new products will be available in stores beginning next week, however the company on Monday said that its retail stores would be closed “until further notice” due to the spreading coronavirus pandemic.
The only Apple retail locations open in the world are the 42 stores it has in China, which it closed in January as the virus rocked the country. Apple last week also canceled the in-person portions of its annual WWDC developer conference.