Apple's new iPad Pro Credit: Apple
CEO Tim Cook and other top Apple executives today unveiled a larger tablet dubbed the iPad Pro, a revamped Apple TV and near the tail of a two-hour-long event, new iPhones.
At a much bigger venue than in the past -- San Francisco's 100-year-old Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, a hall where the Apple II debuted in 1977 -- Apple kicked off what Cook called a "monster roll-out."
For his fifth iPhone introduction since taking the reins from co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011, Cook kept to tradition by opening the event and then introducing other Apple executives, including COO Jeff Williams, marketing chief Philip Schiller and Eddy Cue, who leads the Internet software and services group, to carry much of the load.
But Cook started by strutting not the latest models of his company's biggest money maker, but the newest iPad in the five-year-old tablet line. "We asked ourselves: How can we take iPad even further?" Cook asked, then answered with, "We have the biggest news in iPad since the iPad."
A bigger iPad
He then handed off the larger-screen iPad Pro to Schiller, who trumpeted the specifications. "[It's] the biggest we've ever built in an iOS device," said Schiller of the 12.9-in. display, hitting the screen size mark rumored over the last few weeks. He also touted the full-sized, on-screen keyboard and new iOS 9 features that will support larger displays, like split-screen, even as he asserted several times that it's better than a traditional notebook.
The iPad Pro. Credit: Apple
The iPad Pro will be powered by the new Apple-designed A9X SoC (system-on-a-chip) that includes a 64-bit processor Schiller claimed is faster than 80% of the mobile PCs that shipped in the past year. The Pro weighs in at 1.6-lbs., just slightly heavier than the 2010 original.
And as several analysts bet earlier this week, Schiller also unveiled a keyboard and stylus -- dubbed Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, respectively -- that effectively "Surface-izes" the bigger iPad, making it a rival for the current benchmark, Microsoft's Surface Pro.
Some analysts dampened the comparison between the two, even as Microsoft enthusiasts knocked Apple for following, not leading.
"It's still an iPad," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. "That's a big difference."
For Dawson and others, the starting positions of the two devices made all the difference: The iPad Pro originated from a pure tablet, one that ran a mobile-centric OS, while the Surface Pro was quickly positioned by Microsoft as a full notebook that just happened to have a tablet foundation, and was powered by a desktop operating system.
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