CUPERTINO: Apple, facing tough competition in the tablet market, on Thursday unveiled a new line-up of iPads that feature its mobile payments system and include the fingerprint unlock used on iPhones.
The California tech giant said its iPad Air 2 would be thinner than its rivals, with upgraded graphics power and other features.
The new lineup aims to help Apple regain ground in a tablet market increasingly dominated by the rival Android platform.
Apple said its mobile payments system known as Apple Pay, allowing iPhone and iPad users to tap their devices to pay at retailers, would begin operations Monday with more banks and merchants on board.
The iPad Air 2 is 18 percent thinner than its predecessor, Apple said as it unveiled the new device at its Cupertino, California headquarters.
The new design "makes it the world´s thinnest tablet," Apple vice president Phil Schiller said.
"It´s so thin you can stack two of them and it will still be thinner than the original iPad."
The new slimmed-down tablet comes after last year´s iPad launch prompted rivals to say they had a slimmer profile.
The new tablet comes with a more powerful processor that delivers livelier graphics, improved battery life and Touch ID, the fingerprint unlock system that Apple uses on its iPhones.
Apple also upgraded its smaller tablet, called the iPad Mini 3, which will also have the Touch ID system.
Apple chief Tim Cook said the iPad has been wildly successful, with 225 million units sold in the four years since the initial launch.
But in a tablet market that is cooling, the rival Android platform has been gaining share.
According to Strategy Analytics, Android grabbed 70 percent of the tablet market in the second quarter, to 25 percent for Apple, even if it remains the largest single vendor.
Cook said the Apple Pay system, which has signed up major merchants and banks as well as payment processors like Visa and MasterCard, was gaining participants.
"Just since last month, we have signed another 500 banks," he said.
"They will be rolling out support later this year and early next year." (AFP)