First Look: The iPad Mini 3, iPad Air 2 and more

Apple’s glossy new tablets were accompanied by new iMacs and OS X Yosemite.

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And hey, Stephen Colbert was there!

Apple, uncharacteristically, lost a little PR steam from a leak of some information on its new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 models a day before the launch event, which took place on Thursday at the company’s Cupertino headquarters. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything new to learn – have a look at the new tablets, and more besides.

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New models!

We’ve heard essentially the same pitch from Apple before – look at this beautiful construction, look at the powerful hardware we’ve packed into it, etc. etc – and today was just another verse of the same song, with Apple hyping the ultra-thin construction and updated technology in the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.

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New cameras

Apple was also eager to highlight the new cameras contained in both new iPad models, which will let you take better pictures of that U2 concert you went to until everyone behind you shouts at you for blocking their view.

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TouchID has finally made its way from the iPhone to the iPad, as both new models will contain the fingerprint scanning technology. This will be a boon for folks who own both an iPhone and an iPad, as they’ll be able to stop feeling silly when they absent-mindedly try to unlock their tablets with their thumb.

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Apple Pay

Another feature introduced with the iPhone 6 models that has been ported over to the larger form factor is Apple Pay, though it will not support NFC-based payments like the phone.

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Credit: PCWorld

Introduced with iOS 8, Apple’s continuity features allow users to do things like answer text messages sent to their iPhones from their MacBooks or other devices, as long as those devices are running either OS X Yosemite or iOS 8.1.

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Under the hood, the new A8X chip in the iPad Air 2 promises a roughly 40% performance bump compared to the original iPad Air, according to Apple. The 64-bit chipset retains the extensive sensor set introduced with the iPhone 6 series, as well as the motion coprocessor.

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The new iMac Retina

Thrown in at the end of the show was a new model iMac, featuring Apple’s high-resolution Retina display. In the case of the iMac, “high-resolution” might not even be the right term, given its whopping 5120x2880 pixels. That’s 14.7 million of them, as Apple was at pains to highlight.

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New Mac Mini

Also announced was a new version of the Mac Mini desktop, which boasts some general hardware updates – the first in two years – like more modern Intel processors and more display ports.

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OS X Yosemite

The newest version of Apple’s OS for larger devices, OS X Yosemite, finally launched at Thursday’s event. It’s a fairly major update, and it’s required to get most of the Continuity features working across all your Apple devices.

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Pre orders start tomorrow, shipping by end of next week

Apple did the usual price cuts on previous-gen devices, and set the starting price of the iPad Air 2 and Mini 3 at $500 and $400, respectively. The Mac Mini will start at $500, and the iMac Retina will go for a hefty $2,500. The new iPads can be pre-ordered Friday, and should ship by the end of next week, while the desktops are available immediately.