Apple has announced the iPad 2 this morning, delivering a thinner, lighter, faster tablet with front and rear facing cameras, but, as widely expected, without hi-resolution ‘retina’ screens. The new iPad models will be available almost immediately in the States, and in Australia by March 25.
The company’s CEO, Steve Jobs, introduced the device, appearing for the first time in the months since he left the company on a medical leave of absence, and scotching speculation from American tabloids as to the state of his health.
Thirty-three percent thinner and 15 percent lighter than the original, the iPad 2 uses an upgraded ‘A5’ dual-core processor that is twice as fast as iPad 1, and uses a graphics chip nine times more powerful.
The new, slimline tablet is thinner even than an iPhone 4 at 8.8mm, and comes, for the first time in both black and white. Jobs, joking about the announced but unreleased white iPhone 4, kidded: “And we’re shipping white from day one.”
Predictions on front- and rear-facing cameras were spot on, with the new iPad sporting a VGA camera for FaceTime and a 720p camera on the rear.
A few very welcome tweaks to the design were also unveiled, including the return of the orientation-lock switch on the side of the device, which can also be configured as a mute button. A HDMI convertor for the dock connector is also to go on sale, which lets iPad users stream 1080p video to a screen.
A range of ‘smart covers’ were introduced along with the device, which add minimal weight and thickness by merely covering the top of the iPad. They clean the screens with micro-fibres when moved, and automatically wakes up the iPad when removed.
from Mac OS X and applying it to the mobile platform. It also includes iTunes home sharing, which lets users stream music and video from their home via wireless network over their iPad. iOS 4.3 will be available for a free download on March 11, and it supports all iPads, iPhones and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch.
Along with the iPad 2, Apple announced a range of new Apple-designed apps for the iPad, including Garage Band and iMovie.
“We like to do applications because it gives us feedback about what it’s like to be an app developer,” said Jobs. “But also it can set the bar.”
iMovie for iPad features a precision editor, multi-track audio recording, themes, AirPlay, and the ability to share videos in HD.
“This is not a toy,” says Steve. “You can really edit movies on this thing.”
Garage Band for iPad features touch instruments, the ability to plug in a guitar to use an amps and effects, 8 track recording and mixing, 250+ loops, a sampler and the ability to email the AAC file of your song. The Garage Band keyboard has dynamic touch: it can be tapped softly for quiet notes, or harder for louder notes, along with a sustain button to tap and hold. It’s also compatible with the Mac version.
“”It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,” says Jobs. “That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”
The CEO believes that software, hardware and apps need to intertwine in a more seamless way than they do on a PC.
“We think we’re on the right track with this,” he says. “”I think we stand a pretty good chance of being competitive in this market.”