Video: Apple seeks to take bite out of rivals with new iPad

Nokia also unveils new ‘phablet’ as tech giants do battle

Apple unwraps a new, slimmer and faster tablet called iPad Air and says it will give away Macintosh operating and work software free to its users. Apple's iPad Air is about 20 percent thinner than the previous generation of tablets, starting at $499.

 

Apple threw down the gauntlet to its rivals yesterday as it unveiled its thinnest and lightest tablet, the iPad Air.

Claiming to be the lightest full-size tablet on the market to date, the new iPad weighs less than 500g and is 7.5mm thick, making it about 20 per cent thinner than its predecessor.

The new tablet includes the A7 chip seen in the recently announced iPhone 5S and a five-megapixel iSight camera for Apple’s Facetime video chat.

Set to go on sale on November 1st in Ireland, the iPad Air will replace the current iPad 4. Apple said it plans to retain the iPad 2 in its tablet line-up.

“This is just the beginning for iPad,” chief executive Tim Cook said.

An iPad mini with “retina” screen was revealed as expected, with the new version to go on sale next month. The iPad mini retina will cost from €399, with the iPad Air costing €489.

The company also revealed the latest version of its mobile software, iOS 7, was downloaded 200 million times in its first five days, with almost two- thirds of Apple’s mobile devices running it.

Mr Cook used the launch to take a swipe at the competition, describing them as “confused”.

“Our competition is different: they’re confused,” he said. “Now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they’ll do next? We have a very clear direction and a very ambitious goal. We still believe deeply in this category and we’re not slowing down on our innovation.”

Apple unveiled the first iPad in 2010 and has improved the tablet design incrementally in the years since, adding a front facing camera to the original device and slimming down the iPad before launching the mini version in 2012.

Apple is facing increasing competition in both the smartphone and the tablet market, with Samsung leading the Android charge for the rival Google system.

Apple has 32 per cent of the market, according to figures from research firm IDC, although Mr Cook said it had about 81 per cent of tablet usage share. The company had sold more than 170 million iPads, Apple said.

However, Nokia is also hoping to have another stab at the mobile devices market, announcing several new smartphones and a Windows 8 tablet device at its annual Nokia World event yesterday.

Held this year in Abu Dhabi, the event was the platform for the troubled Finnish phone maker to showcase its 1320 and 1520 large-screen mobile phones – known as phablets – and the Lumia 2520, a Windows RT tablet.

The event is likely to be the last major Nokia event before the company sells its mobile devices unit to Microsoft. The tech giant bid €5.4 billion for Nokia’s phone business in a deal that is expected to close next year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Windows RT tablet Surface 2 went on sale around the world yesterday.