Apple Unveils iPad Air, iPad Mini with Touch ID Fingerprint Scanner

New products aim to rejuvenate declining tablet sales and integrate Apple’s fingerprint-based mobile payments for goods and services online

Apple has unveiled two new iPads at an event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, includinga new, thinner and more powerful iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, both with with Touch ID fingerprint sensors.

The new iPads run an A8X chip, with increased performance on last year’s models: According to the company’s hardware lead, Phil Schiller, the processor is 40% faster and the graphics are 2.5x faster graphics.

While the screens on the devices remain the same size, at 9.7in and 7.9in, the new iPad Air 2 is just 6.1mm, an 18% reduction on the iPad Air. The device also has a new screen with 58% less reflectivity, and an improved 8 megapixel camera. The iPad Mini 3 sees its own update, with the same internals as the iPad Air but no update on the casing.

Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner was first introduced with the iPhone 5S, released in September 2013, but was not fitted to the iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display released in November later that year.

It is used to unlock the device and as a password replacement for purchases through the App Store and iTunes. It will also be able to authenticate purchases through Apple’s new mobile payment service Apple Pay, for goods and services online.

Both new iPads now come with more storage for apps, games, movies, photos and music with 16, 64 and 128GB options available, for $499, $599 and $699 respectively for the Air and $399, $499 and $599 for the mini, as well as versions with cellular connectivity for $130 more. Apps and games have increased in size dramatically over the last couple of years with many taking up well over 500MB of space.

The company will also continue selling both previous iPad minis, and the old iPad Air, leading to an entry price of just $249. The new devices will be available to pre-order from Friday. Touch ID is the most requested feature on the iPad, Apple said.

Sales of iPads have slowed dramatically in the first half of 2014, and fallen year-on-year for two quarters in succession. Apple will be looking to tempt business users with its new devices and a deal with IBM, signed in July, which could be crucial to reviving flagging sales.

But the company was still happily promoting its total sales of 225m iPads since the product line began in 2010, and Cook boasted of iPads outselling every PC sold by typical manufacturers such as Dell and Lenovo in the last 12 months.

Data from research firm Gartner indicates tablets will represent less than 10% of all computers, tablets and smartphones in 2014, and will continue to decrease through 2018 as consumers cool on buying new tablets, replacing them far more slowly than they do their smartphones.

Apple’s iPad is currently used by the NHS, publishers and other office-based industries, where it is often used instead of a laptop – with increased security, battery life and portability for a lesser cost than laptop alternatives.

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