10/22/2013 02:25 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2013

iPad Air: Apple Announces Thinner, Faster and Lighter iPad For $499

Apple is betting a thinner, lighter and faster iPad is enough to fend off growing competition from the likes of Samsung, Google and Amazon.

At an event in San Francisco on Tuesday, the company unveiled a refreshed version of its popular tablet.

The iPad Air, as it's called, has the same 9.7-inch screen of its predecessor. It's 20 percent thinner than the previous iPad and at 1 lb, is about 30 percent lighter. The iPad Air features a 64-bit A7 chip, the same processor that's in the iPhone 5S, which went on sale last month.

The new tablet, which will start at $499 when it goes on sale Nov. 1, comes in black with a "Space Gray" finish and white with a silver finish. A much-anticipated gold version was notably absent.

"This is probably our biggest leap forward in a full-sized iPad," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

The new iPad comes at a time when Apple needs to fend off fierce competition from lower cost tablets running Android, Google's mobile operating system. Microsoft's latest tablets, the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, which run on Windows, hit stores on Tuesday.

"Now everybody seems to be making a tablet, even some of the doubters," CEO Tim Cook said on Tuesday. Gartner, the technology research firm, predicts that nearly half the tablets shipped this year will run Android, up from only 29.5 percent in 2011.

In a surprising move, Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 ($399), the second-generation iPad that came out in 2011, but will no longer offer the newer iPad that was released last year.

"The pricing was I think the most interesting takeaway from the event overall and how they're segmenting the iPad lineup," said Daniel Matte, an analyst at Canalys, adding that "it leaves room" for a premium product, like a larger iPad or an iPad Pro.

Apple effectively created an industry when it introduced the first iPad in 2010, and that year, it was responsible for 76.5 percent of all tablets shipped worldwide, according to IDC, a technology research and consulting company. Since then, rivals like Samsung and Asus -- which makes Google's Nexus 7 tablet -- and even Amazon, have gained traction; by the end of this year, Apple's market share of tablets shipped is expected to drop to 36.9 percent, according to IDC.

This post has been updated with additional details and analysis.

More Apple coverage from HuffPost Tech:

Apple's Oct. 22nd Event
Apple's Oct. 22nd Event

10/22/2013 2:21 PM EDT

Tim Cook Now Back On Stage....Event Is Over

Cook is recapping all the new products, and showing a new ad for the iPad Air.

"Thank you for joining us."

And that's it. It's over.

Check out HuffPost Tech for all the latest.

10/22/2013 2:21 PM EDT

Full iPad Lineup with Pricing

10/22/2013 2:20 PM EDT

New iPad Covers

$39 each

And new iPad cases, $79 for iPad Air, $69 for iPad mini.

10/22/2013 2:18 PM EDT

iPad mini with Retina display

Schiller announces new iPad mini with Retina display, 2048x1536 pixels, 7.9'' diagonal

A7 64-bit chip

10-hour battery life

Faster WiFi, expanded LTE support

5MP iSight camera, new FaceTime HD camera

Comes in silver, white, space grey, black

Starts at $399.

Available later in November, keeping original iPad mini on market for $299.

10/22/2013 2:08 PM EDT

iPad Air

Phil Schiller on stage announcing iPad Air, with Retina display. Thinner, lighter, "deserves a new name."

43% smaller bezel.

Weighs 1.0 pound.

"Lightest full-size tablet in the world"

"Screaming fast"

Faster WiFi, expanded LTE support

5MP iSight camera, 1080p HD video, new FaceTime HD camera

10-hour battery life.

Available in Silver, white, space grey, and black

Starts at $499, replaces top of the line iPad

iPad 2 remains on the market for $399.

Ships November 1st.

Schiller now showing video about the iPad Air.

10/22/2013 1:59 PM EDT

iPad TIME!

Tim Cook back on stage to talk about the iPad.

170 million iPads sold.

81% share of tablet usage, #1 in customer satisfaction.

10/22/2013 1:50 PM EDT

iWork Updates

Full file compatibility across all devices. 64-bit, "never been faster."

Brand new UI.

Demo-ing iWork apps now.

Available for FREE, today, with the purchase of any new Mac or iOS device.

10/22/2013 1:50 PM EDT

New Apps Free With New Devices, Available Today

New apps will be available for free starting today with the purchase of any new Mac or iOS device.

10/22/2013 1:49 PM EDT

GarageBand Demo

10/22/2013 1:46 PM EDT

Mac Pro Looks Really Weird, Let's Admit It

"I think there's not a small danger that if you have a Mac Pro on your desk, people will mistakenly throw their cigarette butts and candy wrappers in it," writes Farhad Manjoo for the WSJ's live blog.