It’s official: Jobs launches the Apple iPad

David Braue
28 January, 2010
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Surprising absolutely nobody, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has unveiled the latest weapon in Apple’s masterplan: the iPad.

Designed like an oversized iPhone, the long-rumoured Apple tablet is currently on centre stage as Jobs demonstrates it to a capacity crowd at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts. The device is designed like an oversized iPhone, with a glass touch screen and black bezel, and runs the iPhone operating system – giving it instant access to the more than 140,000 applications available through Apple’s App Store.

Jobs was quick to address earlier speculation that the mystery device would be a netbook, one of a class of inexpensive notebook computers that has taken the world by storm. Yet while netbooks have proved popular with consumers, “they aren’t better at anything”, Jobs said. “We think we’ve got something that is.”

Developers seemed to agree: Gameloft, a wildly successful developer of iPhone games, was on hand to demonstrate its work with the new iPad, and myriad others are no doubt working furiously to take advantage of the device’s features. An enhanced iPhone software development kit allows for the creation of applications that suit the iPad’s higher-resolution screen, and a 2X button automatically zooms existing applications to suit the new device’s higher-resolution screen.

The iPad runs a host of new and familiar applications: during the demo, Jobs highlighted its performance running iWork applications Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, reinforcing the idea that the device is seen as a productivity tool as well as a device for media consumption. Those applications will sell for $12.99 each (in Australia). There’s also a new new iBookstore, which will see books from publishers Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette Book Group sold through iTunes in the same way as books and movies are sold today. The device will also support industry-standard EPUB e-books, while a new Brushes application allows for the creation and manipulation of images using a familiar touch motif.

Apple also announced a number of accessories for the iPad — most notably, a keyboard and vertical charging stand that allow it to be used like a desktop computer, and lets the iPad double as a digital photo frame when it’s not being used for something else.

The iPad weighs 727 grams and has a 9.7 inch display, making it slightly smaller than the typical netbook on the market. Its proprietary 1GHz Apple A4 processor bundles processor, graphics, I/O, and other key functions on one chip, and is paired with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of flash RAM.

Jobs claimed the device would provide 10 hours of battery life, although this would obviously depend on usage of the built-in 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless connectivity. There’s also a built-in accelerometer and compass, speaker, microphone, and Apple’s standard 30-pin iPhone connector.

Pricing for the iPad will start at $US499, with prices increasing for models with higher capacity and 3G mobile broadband capabilities. Worldwide availability is slated for ’60 days’, which puts it in Australia at the end of March, but (subsidised) carrier deals aren’t expected until June or July.

Read AMW’s live-blog of the event as it happened here. Share your thoughts in the AMW Forums here.

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