Apple's new iPad has built-in laser depth-scanner

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Laser-scanning allows for accurate measurement of objects and people, according to AppleImage source, Apple
Image caption,
Laser-scanning allows for accurate measurement of objects and people, according to Apple

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.

Image source, Apple
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Augmented reality apps paint digital objects and scenery into real-world scenes on camera

Apple also unveiled a separate detachable keyboard, the Magic Keyboard.

It costs $299 (£250) for the 11in version and $349 for the 12.9in version.

“Apple has never shied away from charging a premium for its products,” noted Mr Wood.

He pointed out that some 10in HD tablet computers are available for a lower price than the Magic Keyboard alone, but added that Apple had a “unique position” in the market.

Image source, Apple
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The Magic Keyboard is sold separately and costs more than some rival tablets

Apple also launched a new MacBook Air with a redesigned keyboard mechanism. The company has faced criticism in the past regarding the “uncomfortable” typing mechanism on some of its older MacBook Pro computers, and there were many complaints of keys breaking after months of use.