The rumor mill has been swirling for weeks now as hints about the next-generation iPad Air popped up. Yesterday we got some confirmation when Apple accidentally leaked the user guide for iOS 8.1, which featured pictures of the new iPad, inadvertently confirming its name -- the iPad Air 2. Today, Apple officially debuted the iPad Air 2, which features an even slimmer design, a new processor and a number of chic industrial design features. Here are the top features of the new iPad Air 2 so far:
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While the iPad Air 2 retains the 9.7-inch display size of the original, it features some subtle design changes that make the new model thinner and lighter. The iPad Air 2 is only 6.1mm thick, which is 18 percent thinner than the original iPad Air. To put this in perspective during Phil Schiller's presentation, Apple stacked two iPad Air 2s on top of each other to make the width of the original iPad Air.
Apple also announced that the iPad Air 2 will be available in the new color options introduced with the iPhone 5S -- space gray, silver and the infamous gold.
More Power, Better Camera
As rumors suggested, the iPad Air 2 is powered by a new A8X processor, which is an updated version of the A8 chip found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple stated at its event that the A8X chip has a second-generation, 64-bit architecture with 3 billion transistors, which should boost performance by 40 percent. The company also claims the CPU will improve battery life, claiming 10 hours of endurance. The A8X processor also has a M8 coprocesor that tracks motion and elevation. Inside, Apple added 802.11ac with MIMO for better, faster Wi-Fi.
The iPad Air 2 also features a new 8MP iSight camera that is capable of shooting 43mp panoramas and 1080p HD video. It has also been updated with camera features like Timelapse and Slo-Mo, for taking slow-motion videos. Apple showed off the power of the new iPad Air 2's camera, displaying many photos of incredible quality at its event today. Developers from Pixelmator and Replay, photo and video editing apps, also went up on stage to show off just how much creative control the combination of the new camera and the iPad Air 2's hardware can provide.
Apple created a laminated screen for the new iPad Air 2, which optically bonded the LCD, glass and touch sensor to eliminate air gaps. Apple has added an anti-reflective coating to the iPad Air 2's display, making it 56 percent less reflective than the original screen. Apple claims this is the least reflective tablet on the market.
The iPad Air 2 will support Apple Pay, arguably the most anticipated feature of iOS 8 when it was first announced in September. While the iPad Air 2 won't have the NFC technology found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which allows you to make contactless payments at participating retailers, the tablet version of the feature will work for online purchases. Apple has signed up more than 500 banks to participate in Apple Pay since it was announced.
TouchID has finally come to a tablet in Apple's iPad Air 2, in the ubiquitous steel ring around the home button on the tablet. It will work the same way as TouchID works on the iPhone, and you'll be able to use TouchID to activate Apple Pay, but only for online purchases -- not retail store purchases.
The iPad Air 2 will start at $499 for the 16GB, Wi-Fi-only model, and $629 for the 16GB, Wi-Fi + cellular model. Preorders begin tomorrow, Oct. 17.