Apple's invitation to its announcement teased recipients with the number "2," causing many to anoint the next iPad the "iPad2." Nothing like a little cockiness to usher in a new product.
Apple usually adorns its event launch venues with some flavorful art. This is the Yerba Buena Center For the Arts 24 hours before Apple's announcement was expected to begin. Right next door, at San Francisco's Moscone Center, the Game Developer Conference (GDC) was taking place. Nintendo is keynoting at around the time Apple begins its circus.
As the crowd waited for the execs to take the stage, Apple (as usual) played Beatles music, as if to say, "We now have the Beatles catalog on iTunes." "Revolution" was on the playlist--would the iPad2 deliver in kind?
It was a mystery whether legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs would show for the March 2 event, given his leave of absence because of an illness, reported to be a recurrence of cancer. When Jobs walked on stage, he got a deafening standing ovation. He looked frail but pleased to help unveil the second iteration of Apple's market-dominating tablet. "We've got something great to announce today," he said, "and I didn't want to miss it."
Jobs played up iPad2's dramatically faster, A5 chip: "Our chip wizards have come out with it." Dual core, 2 x faster CPU, 9 x faster on graphics, with the same low power as the A4 chip.
What doesn't iPad 2 have? We wish it had an SD card slot, USB connectivity. HDMI out is good, but as always, it's everything OUT, and absolutely nothing IN. We wish there was a way to hard wire it to the network, even through USB. Jobs calls these "post-PC devices," which must be easier to use and more intuitive than the PC, and the applications must intertwine and be more seamless than PC apps are today. That is both self-serving and correct.
The iPad2, which will ship on March 11, comes in two colors: black and white. Choice. (For color, you can add covers. More on that later.)
The iPad 2 is the exact same price as the original iPad, in all of its configurations.
We got to see the new iPad2 up close and it really does feel lighter and is very thin.
The iPad2 is thinner than the original iPad by one-third (now 8.8mm vs 13.4mm). It is also slightly lighter, at 1.3 pounds (vs 1.5 pounds)
Apple's world-class design extends to the iPad2's cover, which Apple calls a "smart cover." It wakes up the iPad from sleep when you open the cover. It uses magnets, to grasp and auto-align. It also has a micro-fiber lining that cleans the device. Of course, we’ve been seeing many more cases that include Bluetooth keyboards built in, and that isn't covered here. But Apple showed a video of the cover, and it is really, really nifty. Polyurethane for $39 and leather for $69.
The iPad2 is made with the same aluminum case. Very durable and sleek looking as always.
Jobs is back on stage, talking about a couple of new apps, saying the reason Apple shows off those apps is to help set the bar for developers. The first one is iMovie, which comes with an editor, multi-track auto recording, new themes, you can Airplay to Apple. There's the timeline-- you can create and pick clips and place them on the timeline. And you can also do this with more precision, with transition effects. There's also a voice-over recording system, which you can put right over your movie in the timeline. There are title tools, so you can add text and graphics. Also, there is face recognition within the video.
Jobs raved about the GarageBand app, a $4.99 app compatible with the Mac version. You can choose specific instruments and there are ways to add key dynamics, like tap keys soft or hard and it will play back the difference. You can play real instruments, of course, but also the touch instruments. Quite realistic. It includes expressions, like vibrato on a violin and slides on the keyboard. The app also adds smart instruments, for those who don't know how to play. For instance, the app puts guitar chords together (in the same key) so you can have fun with this without being a musician. GarageBand supports up to eight tracks, and all of these songs can be sent to iTunes or e-mailed as an AAC file. Jobs kept saying these are not toys; they’re for real work. Don’t we wish.
Apple billed 2011 as the year of the iPad2. They hope. This time, though, they have lots of competition.
Steve Jobs continues to talk about the intersection of technology and design. While some have deemed the tablet a replacement for the PC, he said that it was a "post-PC" device.
Apple was pretty cocky in referencing all the competitors as copycats. But then, what else would you expect?
Steve Jobs post event, greeting well wishers, smiling and look spry despite his frailty.
The one, the only, Steve Jobs, after the iPad2 announcement.