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Apple pins hopes on new Air and Mini tablets

Shoppers and technology fans heading to the opening of Apple’s new store in Edinburgh tomorrow will be clamouring for details on the latest devices added to the growing family of products from the California company.

Chief executive Tim Cook yesterday unveiled new versions of the iPad tablet – the Air 2 and Mini 3 – amid the usual fanfare that accompanies its launches.

So has Cook found the magic ingredients to prompt a pre-Christmas rush?

Like the recently-launched iPhone 6, the latest tablets are thinner and come with a fingerprint sensor. The tablets are 18% slimmer – less than the width of a pencil.

At a launch event at the company’s Cupertino headquarters Cook said the range of products in the Apple range, which includes a new iMac computer with a “5K retina” or high-end display, is its “best ever”. The tablets include revamped cameras, anti-reflective screens, boosted processing power and updated designs.

However, there was some disappointment that the new range lacked a “wow” factor and amounted to modifications of existing products. There had been speculation that Apple would present an iPad Pro and a Macbook Air with retina display, but they have been left for another day.

Analysts therefore wonder if such tweaks will be enough to persuade existing tablet owners to upgrade or whether they will wait for the next big thing. Unlike phone owners, tablet users do not have a contract that might encourage them to buy the next model as soon as it comes out.

Apple’s global quarterly iPad sales fell to 13.28 million in the last quarter, the lowest since the second quarter of 2012 as the company faces increased competition in the tablet market. Tablet sales are set to rise only 11% this year, according to tech research firm Gartner, compared to 55% last year.

Even so, the faster graphics and camera with time lapse and slow motion video represent advances which may be enough to tempt those keen to have the latest versions.

A more significant development was the unveiling of the new OSX Yosemite operating system for MacBooks and iMacs allowing users to make and receive iPhone calls from their Macs. Apple says Yosemite ushers in the future of computing, where Apple devices all work together seamlessly.

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