The highlight of Apple's announcement is an unprecedented, pixel-free 2048 x 1536 display, but the choice of names left critics a little puzzled.
Apple wowed a packed crowd with its debut of The New iPad, a 9.7-inch tablet with a super high resolution Retina Display, a 5MP camera capable of 1080p video, and a host of new applications and software.
The New iPad will be available on Friday, March 16. Here are highlights of all the new features and specifications:
- 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536 Retina Display
- Quad-core A5X processor, with no clock speed specified
- New iSight 5MP rear camera, capable of 1080p video
- Voice dictation support built into the virtual keyboard
- Support for 3G HSPA+
- Support for 4G LTE (via Verizon and AT&T)
- Pricing of $499, $599, $699 for Wi-Fi version at 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB
- $629, $729, $829 pricing for Wi-Fi version with 4G
Tim Cook didn't explicitly say this, but The New iPad appears to have the same dimensions of the iPad 2. This will come as a great relief to accessory manufacturers.
However, it's likely that the tablet will weigh a little more because of the need for a stronger battery.
The biggest omission? No Siri support, although the presence of voice dictation does make up for it somewhat.
iOS 5.1 delivers optimized video and more for iPad
When he walked on stage, Apple CEO Tim Cook played the drama and suspense around The New ipad for all it was worth. He used the opening minutes of his presentation to talk up the company’s post-PC World success.
"Post PC devices made up 76% of our revenues," the Apple Chief stated, before adding that the post-PC world plays to the company's strengths.
Cook also referenced Apple's 362 retail stores around the world, including one in Grand Central Station, before segueing into a quick discussion of today's release of iOS 5.1 for iPhone and iPad.
The new release will bring Siri support to the Japanese iPhone market, amongst the following other new features for iPad:
- Ability to delete photos from Photo Stream
- Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces
- Redesigned Camera app for iPad
- Audio for TV shows and movies optimized for clearer, louder audio
Cook also announced a new Apple TV device as well as support for 1080p videos and movies in the iTunes store, and support for storing movies in iCloud.
The iOS 5.1 update is available now.
Enter The New iPad
At the 22 minute mark of his talk, Cook officially announced what he called "The new iPad", which will be available on March 16.
Senior vice president of product marketing Phil Schiller came onstage, and immediately confirmed the retina display on a 9.7-inch screen. That's 2048 x 1536 pixels, which is even sharper resolution than a 1080p HDTV.
It's also a high enough resolution that it is literally impossible for the human eye to detect individual pixels on the display.
Schiller also announced that, because of the need to move around double the number of pixels - literally 3 million of them - the new iPad is going to use a new quad-core A5X chip. The "X" designation stands for quad-core, and, according to Apple, will enable even greater levels of graphics performance.
New camera, voice dictation, and 4G LTE support
The third new feature Schiller revealed is a new 'iSight" camera that uses the same 5 megapixel optics system from the iPhone 4S, including auto-face detection, AF locking, and the ability to record video in 1080p.
Voice dictation is also included on the iPad software keyboard. It's accessible via a button to the left of the space bar.
The new iPad will also support HSPA+, which delivers up to 21Mbps network throughput, and the emerging dual-carrier HSDPA+ standard for up to 42Mbps throughput.
More importantly however, Schiller confirmed rumors that The New iPad will have support for 4G LTE. AT&T and Verizon will provide 4G coverage in the United States, while Rogers and Bell will do so in Canada. The iPad will also be capable of functioning as a personal mobile 4G hotspot for laptops and other devices.
It is not clear whether or not existing wireless subscribers will be able to port their existing service over to the new iPad.
For businesses, the inclusion of 4G access is a real game changer. Based on TabTimes previous tests with Motorola's 4G Xyboard showed remarkable data rates that in many cases exceeded standard Wi-Fi.
Schiller also addressed concerns around battery life for the new CPU, display, and other features, stating that The New iPad will deliver 10 hours of battery and 9 hours on 4G, which is the same specification as the iPad 2.
The new iPad will cost $499, $599, and $699 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. It will cost $629, $729, and $829 respectively with 4G.
The new iPad, which appears to have the same basic form factor as the iPad 2, will be available on March 16. Preorders will be available starting today.
Harder to develop for the Retina Display?
After discussing the new hardware inside of and on The New iPad, Apple attempted to address developers' concerns that creating content for the new 2048 x 1536 display will be a productivity killer.
Schiller stated that, from a development perspective, the visual upgrade will work in a similar manner to the iPhone 4. Developers won't have to make any adjustments if they don't want to, and their content "will still look great." But, he said, if they take the time to make some adjustments, the results will be remarkable.
This does not appear to directly address concerns that developers will have to spend more time developing higher resolution graphics for apps, games, and more.
After discussing how the Retina Display would impact the art and images in existing apps, Apple announced a new app by Autodesk named Sketchbook Ink, which allows you to pixel free create line art using your fingers.
Apple also spent a considerable amount of time discussing games, which is not a surprise when you consider how popular they are in the App Store, and the new iPad's capacity for graphics.
The company finished the conversation around games by showing off a demo of a new game by Epic named Infinity Blade Dungeons, as well as a modern air combat game by Namco. Both looked impressive.
"This device has more memory and higher screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PS3," Schiller said.
Apple announces iPhoto for new iPad
Schiller also announced a new iPhoto app that is for people who love photography. The app is focused on editing. Effects, editing, photo-beaming (sending photos from device to device), and photo journals are all supported.
Apple's Randy Ubillos gave a demo of the new photo functions. The app organizes albums of photographs into a Newsstand-looking framework that displays numerous shelves.
The editing tools allow for a large range of functions, manipulations, and effects through a very straightforward interface. Standard high-end features like auto-enhance and auto-levelling of photographs are supported, as are a number of effeects. iPhoto supports images up to 19MP in size.
As users build albums of photos, they'll even be able to add notes to pictures, and can share albums via iCloud or iTunes.
iPhoto will be available today via the App Store.
And the name is...The New iPad
After the extensive discussion on the software side of the equation, Schiller stated that it would continue to sell the iPad 2 with a direct intent of making it more affordable for schools.
The 16GB version of the iPad 2, with Wi-Fi will cost $399, and $529 with Wi-Fi and 3G. In both cases, this is $100 less than current pricing.
By this point in the demonstration, speculation online and on Twitter regarding the "real" name of The New iPad was reaching a crescendo. No one yet understood that Apple had already revealed the name.
So, as Tim Cook came back on stage, the crowd fully expected to - finally - hear the name of the new iPad.
"I hope you can see why we believe the iPad has enormous potential and is the poster child of the post PC world," Cook told the crowd.
And, after presenting a brief commercial/trailer for the new device, that was it.
Slowly gaining recognition that The New iPad was in fact the new iPad's name, the crowd shuffled out.