In addition to the new tablet, Apple also unveiled a slew of new Macs Tuesday at an event in San Francisco.
The iPad Air weighs just 1 pound, compared with 1.4 pounds for the previous version. It will go on sale Nov. 1 and start at $499 for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory.
The tech giant plans to phase out its third and fourth generation iPads, while the iPad 2, which launched in 2011, continues selling at $399.
Meanwhile, a new iPad Mini will be available later in November starting at $399 for a 16-gigabyte model. It has a retina display designed to give it a clearer, sharper picture and the same 64-bit chip that powers the iPad Air.
The iPad has been losing popularity compared with cheaper rivals running Google's Android operating system. According to research estimates, Android tablets will end 2013 with a 50 percent share of the worldwide market versus 49 percent for the iPad. Two years ago, the iPad commanded a 65 percent market share compared to 30 percent for Android tablets.
Apple sold 14.6 million iPads in the June quarter. This figure is 14 percent down from the same time last year, and marks the first year-over-year decline in iPad sales.
Apple also changed up its computer lineup. A new, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is thinner and lighter, said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller.
The laptop has up to 9 hours of battery life, and the new price is lower: $1,299, compared with $1,499 for the previous version.
A larger MacBook Pro, with a 15-inch monitor and 256 gigabytes of storage starts at $1,999, compared with $2,199 for the previous version. The Mac Pro, a high-end desktop computer aimed at what Apple calls "power users," will be available in December for $2,999.
The company also said that its latest computer operating system, Mavericks, is available free of charge.
Apple shares climbed 83 cents to $520.70 in after-hours trading. The stock had closed down $1.49 at $519.87.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.