Apple has announced its first mobile device to feature laser-scanning technology, which the firm says will aid augmented reality apps. The iPad Pro’s Lidar scanner will allow the shape and location of objects in a room to be detected. This should mean graphics and real-world views can be mixed together more accurately than before.
The announcement came via a press release rather than a media event, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is the first time I can remember that Apple has announced such a high-profile product with such little fanfare,” said Ben Wood from CCS Insight.
Apple said the Lidar technology can also be used for measurement apps, to more accurately deduce a person’s height, for example, or the width of an object. There are 11in and 12.9in versions of the new tablet, starting at $799 and $999 respectively. “I think it’s the most advanced camera we’ve ever seen on a tablet by far,” added Mr Wood.
He suggested consumers would see an increasing “push” for augmented reality technology in the coming months and years.
The lidar scanner can measure the distance of objects up to five meters away, working both indoors and outside, designed for enhanced augmented reality.
The tablet also has a new ultra-wide camera and is aimed at media creation, with improved microphones and a new, more powerful A12Z Bionic processor, which Apple says is more powerful than most Windows PC laptops.
Alongside the iPad Pro, Apple released a new Magic Keyboard accessory, which has a traditional MacBook-like keyboard but also a trackpad that brings precision pointing to the iPad for the first time. The keyboard also has its own USB-C port and an adjustable hinge supporting the tablet at a range of angles, essentially turning it into a laptop.
Trackpad support will be available for previous iPads that support the iPadOS 13.4 released on 24 March, enabling support for both Apple’s keyboards and mice, but also third-party devices via Bluetooth or USB. The new 11in and 12.9in iPad Pros will cost from £769 and £969 respectively, shipping on 25 March.