The big announcement from Apple that everyone was waiting for happened this morning. Some were wondering if Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO who has been experiencing health-related absences of late, would do the honors of introducing the company’s update to the popular iPad tablet device. That he did.
Let’s just get this out there: the iPad is Apple’s most important product line at the moment. In 2010, the company dominated the tablet market by getting there first, producing the devices at the price-points they have, and frankly by creating a tablet far superior to anything else that has arrived to market since.
In 2011, that market dominance is by no means guaranteed. Hot new tablets like the Motorola XOOM are encroaching on Apple’s dominance and in response, Apple didn’t so much perform a year-end spiff of the iPad; instead, they completely revamped it. Meet the NEW iPad 2. Here are some bullet points on the device itself:
• All new design. Radically thinner.
• 1/3 thinner than the first iPad. 13.4 Mm down to 8.8 mm thick.
• The iPad 2 is thinner than an iPhone 4.
• White and black models. White will be available launch day.
• All new CPU, the A5, 2x faster but same power consumption.
• Graphics are 9x faster.
• Front and rear cameras.
• Built in gyroscope.
• iPad 2 is lighter. 1.3 pounds instead of 1.5 pounds.
• AT&T and Verizon both supported from launch day.
• Same impressive 10-hour battery life.
Launch day is March 11th, 2011 in the U.S. and will use the original iPad pricing model. Starts at $499 for WiFi only 16 GB models. 5 of 6 models will be under $799 which blows most other tablets that are capable of competing directly out of the water. Outside the U.S., customers will begin receiving iPad 2’s on March 25th.
Apple also announced some great accessories for the iPad 2. The first is dock accessory cable that offers HDMI video out with HDMI Mirrored Video Output, meaning everything you see on the iPad will be output to the tv, at up to 1080. This will work with all apps, an important distinction for fans of Hulu+ and other video streaming services like Netflix. The accessory also supports rotation, no setup or configuration required and you can both charge your iPad 2 and do HDMI output at the same time. The dock cable will set you back $39.
Some official Apple apps are coming that should get folks excited. Photo Booth, the popular OS X app for making your friends look ridiculous, is coming to iOS 4 at long last. Use all of the filters you’re used to on OS X including thermal, swirl, mirroring, etc. Wondering about Facetime? Yup it’s coming, and you can facetime between iPad and iPhone, iPad an mac, iPhone and mac, and so forth. iOS 4.3 will be free on March 11th on iPad, iPhone (GSM), and iPod Touch (3rd and 4th Gen).
Want to do some video editing on your iPad? Now you can with iMovie for iPad which includes a precision editor, multitrack audio recording, new themes, Airplay support, HD video sharing, transitions, among other features. The universal version of iMovie will be just $4.99, and on the app store on March 11th to coincide with launch day.
And for aspiring musicians, you’ll be able to download Garage band for the iPad. The new app includes touch instruments, guitar amps and effects, 8 track recording and more than 250 loops. You can plug in instruments, start a project on your iPad and continue it later on your OS X laptop or desktop. Apple’s throwing in a bunch of touch instruments including pianos and drums. You don’t have to know anything about music. Just pick a chord and strum. Garage Band for iPad is coming March 11th for 4.99
Whew! That’s quite an update. As usual, for all of the latest info and official announcements, head over to Apple’s iPad 2 site and be sure to let us know in the comments section if you plan on picking up the latest iPad 2. Or will you perhaps stick with your “classic” iPad for now? Decisions, decisions.