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Despite the coronavirus outbreak, Apple is still introducing new devices and planning to unveil updated iPhones later this year.
The company this week announced a new MacBook Air and iPad Pro, and increased the storage capacity for its Mac Mini desktop. The announcements were made despite Apple keeping retail stores outside of Greater China closed for an indefinite period. Indeed, Apple quietly changed its website this week from a promise to open its stores next week to one that says its retail locations will be closed “until further notice.”
Meanwhile, a new report this week said Apple’s long-rumored iPhone with 5G compatibility will be released in the fall.
If nothing else, we learned this week that not even COVID-19 can stop Apple’s hardware.
Apple’s new hardware
Apple unveiled a new iPad Pro this week that has the same design as the previous model, but comes with a new sensor for measuring distance and depth up to 16 feet from the device to help users measure real-world objects, take better-looking pictures, and more. It also has an improved camera and now works with trackpads, which are typically found in laptops. Additionally, Apple debuted a new MacBook Air that has increased processing power and more storage. Apple slashed the MacBook Air’s price by $100, to $999 for a basic model. Apple also said that it doubled the Mac Mini’s storage to 256GB on the base model and 512GB on the premium version. All three devices are available now.
A future without events?
My Fortune colleague Robert Hackett wrote this week about Apple’s hardware announcements, and the implications of the company unveiling its devices in a press release instead of a major press event. Apple has, of course, heavily relied on press events. But with COVID-19 spreading around the world, it was forced to use a press release. Will that have an effect on its new hardware’s success?
New iPhones are still on track
Apple is still working on a new iPhone for the fall, Bloomberg’s sources said this week. Apple plans to bundle ultra-fast 5G network connectivity into at least one iPhone model this year, and that device similarly shouldn’t be delayed, the sources said.
A small, but important Apple Store change
When announcing the closure of all its stores outside of Greater China earlier this month, Apple said those locations would reopen on March 27. But this week, Apple quietly changed a notice on its website, saying that its stores would be closed “until further notice.”
Measuring the Apple Store’s impact
Experts say Apple’s store closures don’t pose much of a financial threat to the company. Analysts and industry experts told Fortune this week shoppers that would have bought Apple products in stores are now shopping online. They said Apple would take a small revenue hit of around $100 million, but that the amount would be minimal for a company that generates tens of billions of dollars in quarterly revenue.
Apple limits bulk buying
Apple has cracked down on shoppers bulk buying its devices online. In an unannounced change to its online store, Apple is limiting customers to buying two of each iPhone and iPad model. For Macs, Apple is limiting the number bought to five per order. Apple didn’t say why it placed limits on purchases, but it could be due to slowdowns in production because of COVID-19.
A new feature for older iPads
Apple’s new iPad Pro works with trackpads, allowing users to control the device like a laptop with a cursor. A wireless trackpad connects to the iPad Pro and lets users control the tablet’s software like they would on a laptop without a touchscreen. In its iOS 13.4 update, which Apple plans to release on March 24, Apple will also add trackpad compatibility to the iPad Pro model it released in 2018.
One more thing…
Apple CEO Tim Cook said this week that Apple will make “a substantial donation” to Italy to help the country fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Cook didn’t say how much Apple would give.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—Inside Xerox’s audacious quest to buy much bigger rival HP
—Uber’s CEO to investors: The coronavirus won’t kill our business
—A new iPad—and era, perhaps—arrives via press release
—Hong Kong launches surveillance operation to track suspected coronavirus patients
—Listen to Leadership Next, a Fortune podcast examining the evolving role of CEO
—WATCH: Best earbuds in 2020: Apple AirPods Pro Vs. Sony WF-1000XM3
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