Apple releases new MacBook Air, iPad Pro with LiDAR sensor and trackpad support

March 18, 2020, 2:29 PM UTC

Apple has announced new hardware in the shadow of COVID-19. But for the time being, it can only sell them online or in its only open stores in mainland China.

Like it does at its events, Apple called its new iPad Pro the most powerful yet. The device runs on the company’s A12Z Bionic processor and has a new ultrawide camera that can capture photos and 4K video.

The iPad Pro is the first Apple tablet to ship with a LiDAR scanner that can sense depth. Apple said that the scanner can measure the distance between the iPad Pro and objects up to 16 feet away, and envisions the tablet being used in a variety of professional settings, where users need to measure distance and depth.

Most interesting, however, is that Apple’s iOS 13.4 software update adds trackpad support to the iPad. A new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro gives the tablet a laptop-like feel, but users will also be able to connect an Apple Magic Trackpad to the tablet wirelessly. The peripherals will let users move a circle cursor around the tablet’s software, similar to how arrow cursors work on a laptop.

Apple’s new iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard. Photo courtesy of Apple

Apple said that the feature will work out of the box in the new iPad Pro, and third-party developers won’t need to make any changes to their software to support trackpads.

Apple’s iPad Pro is available for order starting on Wednesday and will come in 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions in either space gray or silver. But for all of its improvements, the iPad Pro is by no means cheap. Pricing starts at $799 for the 11-inch model and $999 for the 12.9-inch version.

A new MacBook Air

Apple also announced a new MacBook Air on Wednesday.

The MacBook Air ships with a $999 starting price—$100 less than the previous model. The machine ships with a new Intel processor that can deliver up to twice the power and speed of the chip in the previous model, has 256GB of storage to start, and features a 13-inch screen.

Most importantly for those Mac users that have suffered through Apple’s butterfly keyboard fiasco over the last few years, Apple said the new MacBook Air has a redesigned keyboard that uses the traditional scissor mechanism used in the vast majority of keyboards. Unlike the butterfly keyboard, which caused keys to stick or not even register, Apple’s scissor keyboard has earned solid reviews from users and critics alike.

Apple’s MacBook Air is available starting on Wednesday.

A Mac Mini update

To round things out, Apple said that its diminutive Mac Mini desktop now has double the storage, with the base model offering 256GB and the higher-end option delivering 512GB of storage. The new Mac Mini is available on Wednesday and starts at $799.

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