Apple has been dealing with the uncertainties imposed by the COVID-19 crisis for several months, but the electronics giant tried to send a business as usual message today by unveiling a new version of its iPad Pro tablet device.
According to Apple, the inclusion of the A12Z Bionic chip makes iPad Pro faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops. The new iPad Pro adds an Ultra Wide camera, studio-quality mics and a LiDAR Scanner that delivers advanced depth-sensing capabilities.
Apple is banking that the LiDAR scanner, coupled with the tablet’s other features, would further improve the product’s utility for applications such as augmented reality (AR).
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The LiDAR Scanner measures the distance to surrounding objects up to 5 meters away, works both indoors and outdoors and operates at the photon level at nanosecond speeds. New depth frameworks in iPadOS combine depth points measured by the LiDAR Scanner, data from both cameras and motion sensors, and is enhanced by computer vision algorithms on the A12Z Bionic for a more detailed understanding of a scene.
Every existing ARKit app automatically gets instant AR placement, improved motion capture and people occlusion. Using the latest update to ARKit with a new Scene Geometry API, developers can harness the power of the new LiDAR Scanner to unleash scenarios never before possible.
The LiDAR scanner improves the device’s Measure app, making it faster and easier to automatically calculate someone’s height, while helpful vertical and edge guides automatically appear to let users more quickly and accurately measure objects. The Measure app also now comes with Ruler View for more granular measurements and allows users to save a list of all measurements, complete with screenshots for future use.
The A12Z Bionic chip inside the new iPad Pro combines an eight-core GPU with an enhanced thermal architecture and tuned performance controllers. According to Apple, the tablet provides up to 10 hours of battery life and exhibits gigabit-class LTE that is reportedly 60 percent faster than other tablets.
With iPadOS 13.4, Apple brings trackpad support to iPad, giving customers an all-new way to interact with the device. Rather than copying the experience from macOS, trackpad support has been completely reimagined for iPad. As users move their finger across the trackpad, the pointer elegantly transforms to highlight user interface elements. Multi-Touch gestures on the trackpad make it fast and easy to navigate the entire system without users ever lifting their hand.
Apple will also offer the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, starting in May. The keyboard has a floating design with smooth angle adjustment, a backlit keyboard and trackpad. The keyboard features USB-C pass-through charging, keeping the USB-C port on the iPad Pro free for accessories including external drives and displays.
iPad Pro incorporates an edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display in both 11-in. and 12.9-in. sizes. The incorporation of ProMotion technology automatically adjusts the display refresh rate up to 120 Hz.
The Pro camera system on iPad Pro features a 12MP Wide camera for capturing stunning photos and 4K video, and now includes a 10MP Ultra Wide camera that zooms out two times to capture a much wider field of view. Adding a second camera doubles the photo and video possibilities, enabling different perspectives and multi-camera use.
Apple has also incorporated five studio-quality microphones into the iPad PRO and has four speakers that automatically adjust to any orientation, no matter how the device is held. Apple is banking that the iPad Pro can be a versatile mobile studio for creative pros including filmmakers, video professionals, podcasters and other content creators.
The new iPad Pro is available to order on apple.com and in the Apple Store app in 30 countries and regions. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $949 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $1,149 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model from apple.com.
iPadOS 13.4 with trackpad support will be available on March 24 as a free software update for all iPad Pro models, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 4 and later. The Magic Keyboard will be available in May for $299 (US) for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $349 (US) for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with layouts for over 30 languages.