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Apple unveils iPad Air

At a launch event in San Francisco today, Apple announced a thinner, lighter version of the iPad, along with an upgraded version of the iPad Mini, as had been widely expected.

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What came as a surprise revelation though was the offer of free operating-system upgrades and free software to Mac and MacBook users.

Apple is giving away its iWork suite, its equivalent to Microsoft’s Office products, to all users, as well as its Maverick operating system update. This is a bold move, aggressively going after an area that has long been dominated by Microsoft.

‘We are turning the industry on its ear, but this is not why we're doing it," CEO Tim Cook said. ‘We want our customers to have our latest software.’

The new iPad, named the iPad Air, weighs just one pound and is 20% slimmer than the iPad 4. It comes available in four ‘colours’ (all monochromatic shades), as does the new iPad Mini, which now boasts a ‘retina’ display. Forecasts of a gold or champagne coloured iPad proved off the mark, as did predictions of a fingerprint sensor. The iPad Air ships on 1 November, while the new Mini will be available later in the month.

The unveiling of the new iPads comes as Microsoft and Nokia launch new tablets running Windows operating systems, but Tim Cook is unperturbed by the competition, saying they are confused. ‘We have a very clear direction and a very ambitious goal,’ he said. ‘We still believe deeply in this category and we're not slowing down on our innovation.’

Apple’s share price fluctuated during the event, recovering to flat at one point, but by mid-afternoon in New York had fallen 0.5% to $518.50.

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