The new iPad

Apple unveiled the new iPad in San Francisco yesterday in what was ultimately a relatively surprise-free event with much of the media’s predictions coming true.

The only really big surprise was Apple’s choice of name for the new device. Instead of opting for iPad 3 or iPad HD, as was regularly hinted at in the media, Apple defiantly decided to name it ‘The New iPad’. This may end up being a clever marketing move as people are more inclined to want to purchase the newer model of anything but it is also Apple’s plan to not have anymore model numbers. Uniformity across all devices is their goal.

Apple’s media event covered the new iPad, iOS 5.1, some new Apps, updates to existing Apps and an updated Apple TV.

The new Apple TV will output video at 1080p, claiming its spot amongst full HD devices. It will also feature a new user interface reminiscent of cover flow for iTunes. Photostream will now display photos in high definition from iCloud. Mirroring of an iOS device’s display on a TV screen will still be supported by Apple TV as will AirPlay (allowing you to stream video, audio and photo content from your iOS device over Apple TV to your TV screen).

iOS 5.1 for iPad, iPhone and iPod includes the following updates and improvements:

  • Japanese language support for Siri (availability may be limited during initial rollout)
  • Photos can now be deleted from Photo Stream
  • The camera shortcut is now always visible on the Lock Screen for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)
  • Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces
  • A redesigned Camera app for iPad
  • Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers
  • Audio for TV shows and movies on iPad has been optimized to sound louder and clearer
  • Podcast controls for playback speed and a 30 second rewind for iPad
  • Updated AT&T network indicator
  • Addresses bugs affecting battery life
  • Fixes an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls

The new iPad is more an iterative update for Apple than a full-blown makeover. And as the world has come to realise, it is this pursuit of perfection in each of Apple’s product lines that results in the fantastic user experiences we have come to expect from them.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was on stage and explained that we’re now at a point where the PC is no longer at the centre of our digital world. Things need to be more portable than any PC has ever been and Apple believes they have achieved that with the iPhone, iPad and iPod.

Apple has sold more iPads in the last quarter than competitors have shipped computers. The figures shown were astounding and provided ever increasing evidence that the world is moving towards the mobility and operating ease of portable devices versus stationary desktop solutions.

“When we set out to create the iPad, we set out to create not just a new product, but a new category, and we said that in order to do that, the iPad had to be the best device for doing the kinds of things you do most often, things like browsing the web or checking e-mail. Gaming, videos, reading books and email and internet browsing are more appreciated on the iPad than any other Apple device.” Cook says.

The new iPad features:

  • A ‘264 pixels per inch’ screen – confirmed Retina Display for sharper images
  • An A5X chip (X for quad-core graphics) for more advanced games
  • A new 5 megapixel camera (previously VGA) with technology borrowed from the iPhone 4s
  • Advanced camera optics with IR filter, autofocus and white balance and face detection
  • HD video recording at 1080p
  • A 4G LTE antenna for faster mobile networks
  • Personal hotspot (much like your iPhone currently has – it allows you to turn your iPad into a wireless internet router)
  • The same 10-hour battery life as the iPad 2, with 9 hours on 4G
  • Black and white models as before
  • A pricing line-up exactly the same as the iPad 2 used to enjoy (the iPad 2 has now received a price drop)

What we didn’t see was a removed home button, Siri support, a smaller version of the iPad to compete against the Kindle Fire’s of the world or a capacity increase.

Apple welcomed some developers on stage to show off some new software out soon for the iPad and iOS in general, but the two most impressive demonstrations were of Sketchbook Ink (for the budding artists among us) and Dungeons (a new chapter in the popular Infinity Blade series). The software was extremely detailed, ran smoothly and really showed off the CPU and GPU powering the new iPad. Apple maintains that the memory and processing power of the new iPad exceeds that of the Xbox 360 – providing game developers with an incredible canvas on which to create imaginative and detailed worlds for fans.

iWorks for iOS also received special mention and welcome new updates. The iWorks app for iOS is receiving new 3D charts, animations, builds and transitions. It will still cost $9.99.

Everybody’s favourite music app, Garageband, is getting ‘smart strings’, a note editor, iCloud integration and sharing. A new feature, Jam Session, will make its debut – up to four users with iOS devices can play in a band together over bluetooth or wi-fi.

You can now create iMovie trailers on iPad (previously only on Mac). You can record 1080p video on the iPad and throw it into the iMovie app on the device for editing.

But by far the biggest news was the new iPhoto for iPad (and iPhone) which includes:

  • A new Smart Browsing interface (double tap a photo to bring up similar photos), multi-touch editing, new effects and brushes
  • Photo Beaming to share photos across iOS devices
  • Support for photographs with a maximum resolution of 19 megapixels
  • An auto enhancing feature as well as a built-in horizon fixing tool
  • The ability to tweak exposure and saturation with your finger
  • Being able to publish photos from your iOS device onto iCloud for an online gallery that replaces the old MobileMe site
The app is $4.99, is available today and really does contain a slew of new features for avid and casual photographers.

Apple then concluded a neat and tidy conference with a closing statement from Tim Cook.

“Only Apple could deliver this kind of innovation in such a beautiful, integrated, and easy to use way. It’s what we love to do. It’s what we stand for. And across the year, you’re going to see a lot more of this kind of innovation. We are just getting started.”

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