Apple packs iPad Pros with faster chips, slims iMacs and jumps into tracking tags

Apple Inc announced on Tuesday a range of new computers, a paid podcasting service, and devices for finding lost items, signaling the continued expansion of its once-simple product line into more and more corners of customers' lives.

The announcements show how the iPhone maker is accelerating the expansion of its product portfolio and working to keep customers committed to its family of devices even as government scrutiny of the power and reach of major technology firms intensifies.

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The new $30 AirTags, tiny devices that can be attached to items such as keys and wallets to locate them when they are lost, were applauded by analysts as a likely hot-seller that would also keep the company's more than 1 billion customers locked into its products.


iPad Pro

A new iPad Pro tablet, featuring the same Apple-designed processor that powers the company's more recent Mac computers, has keyboard and trackpad options that help make it a full-blown alternative to traditional laptops and desktops.




The new iMacs, which start at $1,299, feature a higher quality front-facing camera and microphone, responding to complaints from consumers during the pandemic that the computer's cameras had not kept pace with iPhones and iPads during an era of pervasive video calls.


M1 chip

The new iPad Pros, starting at $799, use the same M1 chip as Apple's other computers, rather than the beefed-up version of iPhone chips found in previous models. The tablets also have additional ports for connecting monitors and 5G connectivity, while featuring a higher-quality display than the company's laptops. 

Analysts said that when combined with Apple's keyboard and trackpad accessories, the new iPad Pro models could be a compelling replacement for a laptop, especially for content creators or business travelers. But those accessories also push the price to nearly $1,100 - more than Apple's cheapest laptop, the $1,000 MacBook Air.

The expansion of Apple's M1 chips into the iPad Pro continues a migration away from longtime partner Intel. Apple in November announced three new computers would use an in-house processor.


Podcast subscription services

The company also announced podcast subscription services that will compete with rival Spotify and an updated Apple TV set top box with better color output and a faster processor chip.

Apple shares have risen nearly 95% over the past year, faster than the 63 per cent rise in the Nasdaq Composite Index, thanks to a record $274.5 billion in sales for fiscal 2020 as consumers stocked up on electronics during the pandemic.


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