While everyone and their dog knew that the iPad 2 was going to be launched by Apple this evening, Steve Jobs had a few surprises for us during the presentation.
The iPad 2 is going to be one third thinner, have front and rear-facing cameras, run iOS 4.3, will have a gyroscope, comes in black and white, and weighs in at 589g compared the original 680g. One of the biggest improvements however is the dual-core A5 chip which has twice the CPU processing power of the iPad’s A4 chip and nine times the graphical grunt. The iPad will launch next week on March 11 in the United States and on March 25 everywhere else and will come at the same pricing as the original pricing.
Possibly the biggest news and biggest reaction was the presence of Steve Jobs on stage at the YBCA Theatre in San Francisco this evening. Jobs has been on medical leave since January, but began the presentation telling us how 2010 had been the year of the iPad even showing us a mawkish promotional video and impressive sales stats. Jobs then went on to have a go at the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Android Honeycomb saying all Apple’s competitors were “flummoxed” at its ability to bring the product to market at such a ‘low’ price.
The iPad 2 itself is an evolution of the original with a slimmed down body, only 8.8mm thick which is the same as the iPhone 4, which Jobs says “feels totally different” than the original. It retains the 9.7in screen with the resolution staying the same - no Retina display here. Despite the inclusion of the more powerful A5 chip, Jobs said the new iPad 2 would maintain the 10 hour battery life of the original. Jobs also announced a series of new accessories, the most impressive of which is a cable which allows for HDMI mirrored 1080p video output which will work with all apps and supports rotation. The cable, which connects to the dock connector, has a charging port as well as an HDMI port to allow you charge your iPad 2 while using it. The cable will cost $39.
Another new accessory will be Smart Covers which will attach to the iPad 2 screen via in-built magnets and when the cover closes, the iPad 2 will go to sleep and conversely when you open it up, the iPad 2 will wake up. The inside of the covers contain mirco fibres to help clean the screen. The covers, which come in polyurethane and leather, also act as a stand when folded up. They will be available in five leather colours and five polyurethane colours. The leather version will cost $69 and the polyurethane version will be $39.
The iPad 2 will be running iOS 4.3 which will bring a number of improvements to the iPad 2 as well as the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. OSme of the new feature include: Improved Safari performance, iTunes home sharing (not the cloud service some were expecting), AirPlay improvements, allowing users to set their preference for the iPad switch, Personal Hotspot for iPhone 4 customers, PhotoBooth and FaceTime for iPad the latter of which allows for video calling between iPads, iPhones and Macs. Apple also announced two new apps, iMovie for iPad and GarageBand for iPad, both of which will cost $4.99 when launched in the App Store on March 11.
No SD card slot and no screen resolution improvements will be features some will point to as lacking. However with the improved dual-core A5 chip, slimmed down body and same pricing, this could well make 2011: The Year of the iPad 2. What do you think?