Apple unveils surprise product
IT IS the first iPad launched with a tweet.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook took the unprecedented step of unveiling a new tablet computer in a photograph posted to social media overnight - a move typically reserved for people leaking rather than launching information about upcoming Apple devices.
But Mr Cook's subdued unveiling was confirmed by the Cupertino tech giant just minutes later, with Apple publishing details of an upgraded iPad Mini and a new 10.5-inch iPad Air.
Both of the new devices will support the Apple Pencil for the first time.
Apple worldwide marketing senior vice-president Phil Schiller said the low-key launch of iPads in two sizes reflected the "growing range of uses" for Apple tablets.
"Today the iPad family takes two big leaps forward," he said, noting the return of the iPad Mini as "many customers love its compact size".
An upgrade has been a long time coming for fans of the smallest iPad, which was last refreshed in September 2015.
The new 7.9-inch tablet, like the revamped iPad Air, will feature a Retina screen with True Tone technology for more natural colours, better performance, and an 8-megapixel rear camera and 7-megapixel selfie camera.
However, both new iPads will opt for older versions of other Apple technology, including Touch ID fingerprint sensors for security, Lightning ports for charging, and compatibility with older Apple Pencils, rather than the inductive charging models used with the iPad Pros.
The entry-level version of both new iPads will start well below the $1000 mark, however, with the Mini version available from $599 and the new Air model at $779.
They will sit above Apple's education-focused 9.7-inch iPad in the company's range, and are expected to appear in stores at the end of the month.
While the new devices were not expected, they come just one week before Apple is due to hold a worldwide launch event in its Steve Jobs Theater in California.
The company is widely tipped to unveil new media services at the event, including subscription plans for both television shows and news articles.