Sunday 21 April 2019

Apple launches new AirPods with sales expected to top 50m this year

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Apple have launched new AirPods with 50pc more talk time. Stock photo: AFP/Getty
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Apple has launched an upgraded set of AirPods, the in-ear wireless headphones expected to dominate global headphone sales this year.

The updated gadget comes with 50pc extra ‘talk time’, better battery life and the option of a wireless charging case. It also now features hands-free “hey Siri” voice control that could mark a deepening of Apple’s voice command ambitions.

The upgraded headset costs the same as the older model at €179. However, editions that come with a wireless charging case will cost €229, while the wireless case will also be sold separately for €89.

The new hands-free feature will allow users to change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions by saying “hey Siri”.

Apple is also offering a free engraving on the case when ordered through its own web store at apple.com.

AirPods are now the world’s biggest selling wireless headphones. Analysts expect sales of around 50m this year, making the small audio gadget one of Apple’s most purchased devices.

The new AirPods come in the same week that Apple has unveiled upgrades to its iPads and iMacs.

The company released a new iPad Air and iPad mini in the last three days, while boosting the power specifications of its iMac range.

The new 7.9-inch iPad mini represents the first update to the smallest of Apple’s tablets in over four years. It adds fingerprint security (Touch ID) a higher-resolution screen and the ability to use Apple’s Pencil stylus.

However, it will be €100 more expensive than Apple’s basic 9.7-inch iPad, starting at €469 for the 64GB wifi version.

The company’s new iPad Air borrows heavily from Apple’s previous iPad Pro. It uses a similar 10.5-inch display and now comes with a smart connector that allows for the use of Apple’s Smart Keyboard. It can also use Apple’s Pencil, although like the iPad mini, it is limited to the first generation edition of the stylus.

At €579, the iPad Air may be a budget-friendly rival to Apple’s current iPad Pro (€909) with both devices starting at 64GB. The Air model’s maximum storage configuration is 256GB, while the iPad Pro can be configured at up to 1TB of internal storage.

Other main differences between the two work-friendly iPads include USB-C instead of Lightning, a more easily chargeable Pencil for the Pro, a larger screen for the Pro, a more protective Smart Keyboard case and greater power under the hood thanks to Apple’s 12X chip. However, the Pro model is 40pc heavier than the Air.

Meanwhile, Apple has also updated its iMac range, giving the desktop machines significantly more power.

The 21.5-inch iMac now has 8th-generation quad-core Intel processors, with a 60 percent performance bump, according to the company. The 27-inch iMac now comes with Intel’s 9th-generation 6-core and 8-core processors, promising up to 2.4 times faster performance.

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