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Apple has introduced an iPad Air with a processor more powerful than the iPad Pro and enough horsepower to perform tasks like photo and video editing on the road.
The new iPad Air has a 10.9-inch display and Apple's fastest processor, the A14. The iPad Pro, introduced in March, has an older processor and a starting price that's $200 more than the new Air. Both iPads will likely appeal to workers in creative fields.
The iPad Air's new USB-C port supports transfer speeds up to 5 GBps -- a tenfold increase over the Lightning connector in last year's iPad Air. The faster data rate is useful in downloading data from cameras and other devices.
The iPad Air has an authentication sensor built into its top button. The tablet supports Apple's Magic Keyboard, which features a built-in trackpad. Before the latest Air, only the iPad Pro supported the keyboard.
Apple plans to release the iPad Air in October with a starting price of $599.
The eighth-generation iPad has a 10.2-inch display and is 40% faster than last year's model, according to Apple. The tablet supports the Apple Pencil stylus, which previously worked only with the iPad Air and Pro. The new iPad, available Friday, will cost $329, or $299 for educational institutions.
While the latest iPads are more capable than previous generations, they are unlikely to appeal to businesses without video or graphics departments. For office workers, compatibility with productivity apps is more important than having the most powerful processor.
"I did not see a 'wow' announcement on iPad, from a business-user perspective," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said. "[The] iPad won't be a laptop replacement."
The latest iPad introductions came one day before the release of iPad OS 14 and iOS 14. Both new operating systems feature improvements to Apple's messaging app, Messages. The app now provides for more flexibility in group communication, with users now able to tag people in a particular message, to communicate directly with one member of a group messaging session and to only receive notifications when they are mentioned.
The new iPad OS also looks to increase the usefulness of the Apple Pencil. Users can now paste handwritten notes as typed text in other apps and handwrite entries into any text field. With the new OS, scribbling out a word with the pencil erases it, while circling a word selects it for easy copying.