Apple's iPad mini announcement: new iBooks tools, new Macs, and yes, a smaller iPad

By Nathaniel Mott , written on October 23, 2012

From The News Desk

  Apple took the stage today to announce the new long-rumored iPad mini, a 7.9-inch variation of its iPad product line. The company also announced new iBooks features, including a new reading theme and tools that will allow publishers to create more powerful iBooks textbooks. We have the full, no-bullshit rundown of everything announced below.

Apple by the numbers:

  • Apple sold 5 million devices during the iPhone 5's opening weekend – the fastest selling phone in history, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
  • Customers have pre-ordered over 3 million of the  new iPod touch and iPod nano models.
  • Just one month after its launch, 200 million devices are running iOS 6, the latest version of the company's mobile operating system.
  • Over the last year, users have stored over 125 million documents in the company's "Documents in the Cloud" service.
  • Since its introduction last year, users have sent over 300 billion iMessages. According to Cook, customers send over 28,000 iMessages each second.
  • 160 million users have signed up for Game Center, the company's game hub.
  • Since its debut last month, users have shared over 70 million photos through the company's "Shared Photo Streams" service.
  • Apple's App Store has over 700,000 apps – 275,000 of which are designed specifically for the iPad – and users have downloaded some 35 billion apps. Apple says that it has paid out over $6.5 billion to developers.
  • The iBookstore now has over 1.5 million titles, and Cook says that customers have downloaded 400 million books since the store's introduction.
  • Apple has introduced a new theme, which Cook referred to as a "continuous streaming option." The theme looks like read-it-later apps, like Pocket and Instapaper.
  • Users will now be able to share passages from iBooks with Facebook and Twitter.
  • iBooks are now available in over 40 languages.
MacBook Pro 13" with Retina Display:
  • Cook strutted his stuff when it came to the company's Mac products, announcing that the company has both the No. 1 desktop computer and the No. 1 notebook computer.
  • Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, took the stage to announce that the 13" MacBook Pro, the company's best-selling Mac, will be be getting a makeover.
  • The MBP is now 20 percent thinner and almost a pound lighter – at 3.75 pounds – than the previous model.
  • All of the required ports are around: An SD card reader, HDMI, Thunderbolt, and USB ports are all present.
  • The company increased the MBP's display to Retina quality, with 2560 x 1600 resolution. That is, as Schiller says, almost twice as many pixels as a 1080p HDTV.
  • That pretty screen has been improved in other ways as well, with a bumped contrast, 178 degree viewing angle, and a 75 percent reduction in its reflection-slash-glare (a common complaint of the company's glossy screens).
  • Besides the screen, which is (understandably) the main attraction, the company also improved the notebook's speaker system and its internals, with up to 768 gigabytes of flash storage, 7-hour battery life, and up to 8 gigabytes of RAM.
  • The model with a 2.5 GHz dual-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage costs $1,699.
Mac mini:
  • Schiller ran through the Mac mini announcement; the product has been mildly updated with new processors, and now comes with a $999 server option that has more storage and ships with server applications pre-installed.
  • The new Mac mini will also have the new "Fusion Drive" available – more on that below.
  • The edge on the new iMac is 5 millimeters thick – 80 percent thinner than the previous generation.
  • Part of this generation's thinness comes from the lamination process that makes the company's display 45 percent thinner. (The company does something similar with the iPhone's display.)
  • The screen is otherwise unchanged, with a 2560 x 1440 screen on the 27" model and a 1920 x 1080 screen on the 21.5" model.
  • Like the new MacBook Pro, Apple claims that there is 75 percent less reflection on the new iMac models. This was accomplished via the lamination process as well as "plasma deposition," which allowed the company to put the anti-reflective coating just one nanometer away from the display.
  • Apple introduced a new "Fusion Drive," a storage option with 128GB of flash storage and either a 1 or 3 terabyte harddrive fused into a single volume.
  • OS X will now help users decide what items should be stored on the harddrive or the flash storage section, placing all of the pre-installed software on the flash side (for performance) and other items, like documents, on the harddrive.
  • The base model 21.5" iMac starts at $1299 and will start shipping in November.
  • The base model 27" iMac starts at $1799 and will stat shipping in December.
iPad/iPad 4th generation:
  • Tim Cook came back out and said that, as of two weeks ago, 100 million iPads have been sold.
  • 91 percent of tablet Web traffic comes from the iPad, Cook says.
  • 94 percent of Fortune 500 companies are "testing or deploying" the iPad.
  • Phil Schiller came back out to talk about the fourth generation of the iPad, which has a new A6X processor with higher processing power, doubly fast graphics power, the new Lighting connector, and the now-standard iPad battery life of 10 hours.
  • Apple is working with new carriers to expand the LTE-equipped iPad's coverage, and has built its WiFi antennas to be twice as fast.
iPad mini:
  • The iPad mini is 7.2 millimeters thick and weighs 0.68 pounds, which is 23 percent thinner and 53 percent lighter than the fourth generation iPad.
  • Like the iPod touch, the new iPad has a redesigned back and is available in both aluminum and "slate" (see: black).
  • Screen-wise, the iPad mini is 7.9" across, with the same 1024 x 768 resolution as the original, non-Retina iPad.
  • Schiller took a minute to compare the iPad mini to Google's Nexus 7, the flagship Android tablet that Google built in conjunction with Asus. The bezel is thinner on the iPad mini, and the screen, despite being just 0.9 inches larger diagonally, is 35 percent larger by area than the Nexus 7.
  • Besides its size, the iPad mini is essentially a miniaturized mashup of the iPad 2 and the new iPad, with FaceTime HD cameras, the Lightning connector, LTE capabilities, and the same 10-hour battery life.
  • The WiFi-enabled, 16GB model starts at $329; as the memory doubles the price rises by $100, and the cellular models cost more still, so the price ranges from $329 to $659.
iBooks Author:
  • Through iBooks and the iBooks Author creation tool, Cook claims that 80 percent of US high school curriculum can be served by the available iBooks textbooks.
  • 2,500 classrooms are using iBooks textbooks.
  • The company is introducing a new version of iBooks Author, with new tools that allow publishers to select custom fonts, embed mathematical expressions, and use multi-touch widgets.
[Images courtesy sam_churchill]