At a live-streamed press event held Tuesday at the California Theatre in San Jose, California, Apple unveiled a $329 miniature version of its popular iPad tablet. The iPad mini has a 7.9 inch screen (diagonally), and is basically equivalent in power and features to Apple's iPad 2, the second-generation iPad released in 2011. The device, which comes in both black and white, fits easily in one hand and in a pocket or purse.

This is Apple's play against competitors' smaller devices, such as the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, which are the only devices that have gained any significant traction against Apple's iPad. While there are no groundbreaking advancements inherent in the iPad mini, Apple is keeping pace with its competitors and will surely expand its customer base with this less-expensive version of its ubiquitous tablet. Steve Jobs had been quoted saying a 10 inch screen was optimal for tablets, but competition must have made the company change its mind.

The base model iPad mini comes Wi-Fi-only with 16 GB of storage for $329. The LTE cellular model cost an additional $130. Apple also unveiled fourth-generation model of its 10" iPad tablet, an incremental upgrade over last spring's new iPad, with a faster processor and the new Lightning connector for syncing the iPad with a computer and charging the device. This quick upgrade cycle may frustrate purchasers of the new iPad from the spring, but it was most likely done to bring the iPad in line with the accessories that use new lightning connector being rolled out across Apple devices.

The iPad mini also represents a push deeper into the education market, where a more affordable device could make a big difference. Apple also announced a new version of its iBooks e-reading software today adding such features as continous scrolling and new language support (Korean and Japanese among others) and the ability to share book content on Twitter and Facebook. Apple also upgraded iBooks Author, its multimedia authoring tool, with enhancements specifically for textbooks that include multitouch widgets, new fonts, and the ability for authors to announce updates of their books through the iBooks app.