This morning, just six months after unveiling the third-generation iPad, Apple unveiled the long-rumoured iPad mini along with a fourth-generation of the standard model.

Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller showed off both devices today. The iPad mini is 7.2mm thick – 23 percent thinner than the new, fourth-generation iPad and mini is available in white with silver or black with slate black, much like the iPhone 5.

In determining what size to make the iPad mini’s screen, Schiller said, Apple engineers worked to make the device smaller, but not “so small that it stops being incredibly useful”. The iPad mini screen measures 7.9 inches diagonally. Like the iPad 2, the iPad mini employs a 1024-by-768 resolution, meaning all existing iPad apps work with the iPad mini, too.

Schiller said that the iPad mini is great for the same tasks that the full-size iPad is good for: games, Facebook, web browsing, email, GarageBand, iWork and so on. “I could sit here and list 275,000 examples” of what the iPad mini is good for, Schiller said, referring to the number of iPad-optimised apps in the App Store.

Compared to Android tablets, Schiller said, the iPad mini is vastly superior. Apps are custom-built for the iPad, but on Android tablets, apps are often blown-up phone apps that aren’t optimised for the device.

Inside the iPad mini, Schiller said “the technologies… are equal to or better than the iPad 2”. The iPad mini uses Apple’s dual-core A5 chip. It has a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel iSight camera on the back. It gets the same LTE capabilities as the fourth-generation iPad with LTE, and faster Wi-Fi, too. Of course, it uses the Lightning connector. Apple says that, like the other iPads in the lineup, it still offers 10 hours of battery life; the company boasts that the iPad mini uses the largest and thinnest battery Apple’s ever made.

The iPad mini will be available in a variety of configurations. The iPad mini with Wi-Fi connectivity starts at $369 for the 16GB model, $479 for the 32GB model and $589 for the 64GB model. If you add in the option for cellular connectivity, those prices increase by $140. Pre-orders for the iPad mini will start on Friday, October 26. The Wi-Fi versions will ship from 2 November to many countries. Two weeks later, they’ll start to ship the iPads with cellular – first in the US, and then later around the world. Apple also introduced a lineup of new Smart Covers for the iPad mini.

Schiller also took the wraps off the new fourth-generation iPad. The new iPad uses the Apple A6X chip, a new chip that further improves upon the speed performance of the A6; the company claims that it’s twice as fast as the A5X, with double the graphics performance. It gets the same 10 hours of battery life as the third-generation iPad.

New to the fourth-generation iPad is a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a Lightning port that replaces the 30-pin dock connector of old. And the Wi-Fi is twice as fast as in the previous generation.

Apple also announced: a super-slim iMac, a 13in MacBook Pro with Retina display, a Fusion Drive, an updated Mac mini and new versions of its iBooks and iBooks Author apps.

With Macworld Australia