Steve Jobs last night unveiled the iPad 2, the second generation of the gadget that introduced the tablet computer to the world.
Almost 15 million iPads have been sold around the world so the announcement of the iPad 2 was eagerly anticipated with daily alleged ‘leaks’ and stories from Elton John’s supposed informed slip that it would launch in March (although he probably just read’s the same tech blogs as the rest of us) to last week’s claims that iPad 2 production had been delayed by 2 months pushing launch into June.
Back in reality, the well-oiled Apple product and presentation machine announced the new iPad in March and first deliveries will hit stores on March 11 in the US and March 25 in 26 more countries, presumably including the UK. Pricing will match that of the current iPad. Expect iPad on Contract deals to be announced by the UK mobile phone operators very soon.
So what’s new in iPad 2? Not as much as you might expect. It has the same display as before but an ‘all-new’ product design that’s 33% slimmer and 15% lighter. There’s a new dual core A5 processor that delivers faster performance, with graphics rendered up to 9 times faster which should make gaming and movie editing much much slicker. The iPad 2 also comes in white and black, although the back is still the lovely aluminium.
The rumoured, and much needed, cameras have been added with a VGA front facing camera for video calling via FaceTime and presumably Skype. A rear facing camera captures ‘720p video’ which presumably makes it a roughly 3 megapixel camera.The video calling feature will delight many folk, mainly work away Dad’s and geo-divided families, but I have to say I rarely use it on my Mac so I’m less excited than some. I’ve no idea what use the rear facing camera has so far – the iPad 2 is going to be pretty unwieldy to use as a camcorder or for augmented reality Apps and games. Answers on a postcard…
The other major design ‘change’ is the additional of an optional cover that doubles up as stand. The jury is still out on this accessory.
Jobs waxed lyrical as ever, spinning the new second coming as he always does. His use of language and reference to the copy cat tablets from Samsung and HP suggests the iPad 2 is really a defensive move, aimed at keeping half a step ahead of the competition rather than reinventing the iPad all over again.
“With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.”
So the iPad 2 will undoubtedly be a huge success and it is an improvement, but you should view this as a smaller step like the difference between the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 3G. Expect more innovation in the inevitable iPad 3 this time next year.
Oh, and if you’re not bothered about cameras, a little bloatedness and the need to run video heavy Apps why not buy the iPad 1 when prices are slashed by retailers over the next few weeks!