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Tablets

Apple new iPad Pro unlocks new app capabilities

Games come closer to looking like you're playing on a PC and Adobe Photoshop is more deft, the company said.

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Apple's earlier version of the iPad Pro has a 9.7 inch screen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple's newest iPad Pros unlock more capabilities for the apps on the tablets, the company touted at its "There's more in the making" event Tuesday in Brooklyn, New York, as it introduced new iPads and Macs.

Among the apps discussed: 

  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is coming to the iPad for the first time, with flashy visuals such as sunlight piercing through a window and atmospheric fog. 
  • NBA 2K from 2K Games, a basketball game, "brought same console realism to iOS" thanks to the new device, according to Greg Thomas, EVP of 2K Games. 
  • Adobe Photoshop on the iPad, which was unveiled earlier, has tricks like Apple Pencil having a double-tap shortcut to dive into zoom
  • With the new iPad Pro, for the first time AutoDesk will bring AutoCad to the iPad, referring to an architectural design program. 
  • The device will also enhance programs such as ProCreate for sketching andNotability for notes, the company said. 

Apple's iPad initially became a big seller when it hit the market in 2010 and was considered the third leg of the company's "three-legged stool" of strong businesses. But the tablets have struggled over the past few years as iPhones get bigger and Mac computers get smaller. People who've bought iPads have held onto them longer, while others find they don't need a tablet once they have an iPhone Plus and a Mac.

Apple in 2015 tried to give new life to the iPad by introducing the 12.9-inch Pro model with an optional keyboard case and Apple Pencil stylus. It followed up with a 9.7-inch version -- which no longer exists -- and now offers a smaller, 10.5-inch model. The Pros, along with a lower-priced iPad model that Apple launched in March, have helped the company's iPad sales rebound, but they're nowhere as big as the peak of the iPad market in 2012.

Apple's event on Tuesday is the fourth of the year -- and the second to take place outside California, a rare departure from the usual Bay Area venues. It's also only the second time Apple has ever hosted an event in New York. The first, in 2012 at the Guggenheim Museum, was to launch its iPad digital textbook software.

Apple, which started out in 1976 as Apple Computer, hasn't done much lately when it comes to its laptops and tablets. In 2016, it redesigned its MacBooks for the first time in four years, adding a new Touch Bar and a butterfly keyboard -- features that have caused a lot of complaints and even lawsuits. Apple's laptops haven't seen many changes since then, and the company has delayed major updates to products like its Mac Pro.

Then there are Apple's iPad Pro tablets. Apple has added new screen sizes, but it hasn't really added major new capabilities or tweaked the design since the first iPad Pro hit the market in late 2015. Compared to the iPhone, Apple's Macs and iPads have looked like they're stuck in the past.

But iPads and Macs remain a critical part of forming the universe of Apple products that hook a customer into its ecosystem. If you've got an iPhone and Mac, you're less likely to switch phones or computers

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