In addition to a new MacBook Air and updated Mac Mini, Apple today has also announced a new iPad Pro powered by the A12Z Bionic chip and featuring a new dual-camera, a LiDAR scanner for Augmented Reality, and trackpad support.
According to Apple, , the new A12Z Bionic chip supports an eight-core GPU, enhanced thermal architecture, and tuned performance controllers that gives the new iPad Pro a performance boost:
The eight-core GPU in the A12Z Bionic, along with an enhanced thermal architecture and tuned performance controllers, gives iPad Pro the highest performance ever in an iPad. Combined with the eight-core CPU and the powerful Neural Engine, which enables next-generation apps, there’s no other chip that can offer the incredible performance found in the thin and light design of iPad Pro.
The new dual-camera system includes a 10 megapixel ultra-wide and 12 megapixel wide lens, a significant upgrade to the single 12-megapixel back camera of the previous generation iPad Pro.
The LiDAR Scanner on the new iPad Pro is used for depth sensing and enables Augmented Reality capabilities Apple says have never before been possible on any mobile device:
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 nano-second 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. The tight integration of these elements enables a whole new class of AR experiences on iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro is still available in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes, with an edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display and ProMotion technology. It now features five microphones which Apple describes as “studio-quality” and four-speaker audio that automatically adjusts to any orientation.
When iPadOS 13.4 is released, trackpad support will come to iPad, with Apple saying:
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.
Trackpad support in iPadOS is designed to work great with the apps customers use every day. From smoothly scrolling through web pages in Safari and photo libraries in Photos, to precisely editing text in Notes and quickly viewing and organizing your email in Mail, it’s a joy to use a trackpad with iPad. Most third-party apps work with no change at all, and developers can go even further with new APIs that let them deliver unique experiences in their apps.
Our understanding is that Apple has made trackpad support accessible for a wide range of user needs. For VoiceOver users and Zoom users, this includes features like new Pointer Settings and pointer support so the pointer will stay focused for the user.
There's no indication that this goes as far as an iPadOS equivalent to the Trackpad commander available to VoiceOver users on macOS, but it's possible that something similar is planned for the future.
Apple today also introduced the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. Featuring USB-C pass-through charging and what apple describes as a “floating design with smooth angle adjustment,” the Magic Keyboard has a backlit keyboard and trackpad. It will be available for purchase in May, priced at $299 for the model made for the 11-inch iPad Pro, and $349 for the 12.9-inch version.
There are also new Smart Keyboard Folio accessories out today, priced at $179.
Somewhat surprisingly, the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is backwards compatible with earlier iPad Pro models. Apple says you can use the Magic Keyboard with:
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch 3rd and 4th generation
- iPad Pro 11-inch 1st and 2nd generation
The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is from $999. Pre-orders start today in 30 countries and regions and the devices will ship starting next week. Apple says that iPadOS 13.4 will be available from March 24.
Even though prices are the same as for the previous generation iPad Pro, Apple has doubled the starting configuration to include 128GB — up from the previous generation’s 64GB. Other configurations include 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB.