Apple has sold 225 million iPads to date, but those sales have started to level off. So with its latest iPad models, which were unveiled on Thursday at an event at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California, it's easy to imagine that the company wants to boost its sales. The newest iPad models don't feature any major overhauls, but they do make some significant updates. Here's a rundown of what's different about the latest Apple tablets.
A skinnier iPad Air. The Air 2 still has a 9.7-inch screen like the first iPad Air, but it's also 6.1 mm thick, 18 percent thinner than the last iPad Air and less than half as thick as the first iPad. Apple bragged that it would be the thinnest tablet on the market.
Nonreflective screens. The new iPad will feature an anti-reflective screen, rather than the iPads' mirror-like current screens.
Faster. The Air 2 will feature Apple's A8X processor, which the company says is 12 times faster than the processor in the first iPad.
Fingerprint identification. One of the biggest changes is that the new iPads will both incorporate Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensors, perhaps the biggest upgrade from the last models. This is useful not only for unlocking your iPad but for the many apps that use Touch ID — Amazon, Mint, eHarmony, and password services like 1Password, for example. In addition, Touch ID works with Apple Pay (see below), which was unveiled with the new iPhone 6 and 6+ last month, to allow payments online.
Apple Pay. The new iPad Air will incorporate Apple's new payment system, Apple Pay. Apple announced the system last month when it unveiled its iPhone 6 and 6+. Apple Pay will launch on Monday, October 20, Cook reported on Thursday, and more than 500 banks support the program, as do major retailers including Whole Foods, Macy's, and McDonald's.
Upgraded cameras. The new iPad Air 2 features not only a sharper iSight camera but an HD FaceTime camera. Burst mode, which allows you to take many photos in rapid succession, will also be available for the first time on iPad.
Cost. The new iPad Air 2 will start at $499 for 16 gigabytes of storage, $599 for 64 gigabytes, $699 for 128 gigabytes for versions that are wireless. Versions that are cellular and wireless together are $130 more. The mini 3 will start at $399.
When are they available? Customers can pre-order tomorrow, October 17, and the tablets will ship next week.