The Apple iPad 2
Today Steve Jobs took the stage (despite being on a medical leave) along with Tim Cook and Phil Schiller to announce the next iteration of the iPad. So what's new?
- A5 - An all new processor dubbed the 'A5'. Apple's custom "system-on-a-chip" the A5 combines the GPU and CPU on to a single chip and this one is dual-core. "Twice as fast" Apple claims. The A5 also beefed up the GPU and Apple states you'll see up to 9x the performance with gaming.
- Cameras - Probably the biggest grip of the first iPad, the iPad 2 now comes stocked with a front and rear HD camera. Of course with the cameras comes FaceTime but Apple also showed off iMovie for iPad, and even brought over Photo Booth.
- All New Design - Although Apple kept the same screen size and resolution, the rest of the iPad has changed. From a new bezel (now in white or black), sporting glass all the way to the edge, to a new square shaped back. Oh and did I mention that it's 1/3 thinner too? They added two cameras and made it thinner and lighter...
- AirPlay/Video Mirroring - AirPlay was introduced by Apple in iOS 4.2 that let you stream music/movies/pictures from and iOS device to an Apple TV. Now Apple is opening up AirPlay to all developers to get in on the action. Video Mirroring is going to let you plug an HDMI cable into your iPad 2 (via connector) and your iPad screen will show up, in 1080p, on your TV. The teaching applications here are limitless.
- iOS 4.3 - Apple also announced that iPad will be shipping with iOS 4.3 which will include imporovements to Safari, AirPlay, Personal Hotspot for iPhone 4, and Home Sharing to iOS devices.
- iPad 'Smart Cover' - Last Apple showed off their skills with accessories when the made the iPad Case, this year Apple out has outdone themselves with their new Smart Cover. Apple wanted a simple way to protect the new iPad while at the same time adding function. The Smart Cover attaches via magnets to the right side of the iPad and covers just the front of the iPad. When the Smart Cover is "closed" is also has the ability to put the iPad to sleep, and likewise wakes it when you open the cover. The Smart Cover also has two distinct folds that allow it to prop your iPad in different orientations to fit your needs.
Apple also informed us that they have sold 100 million iPhones and 15 million iPads to date. That's 15 million iPads in less than a year. With the onslaught and Android and WebOS tablets coming this year Apple knew they had to deliver. Nothing revealed today was "game changing" or surprising but Apple swiftly took all the wind out of sails of these cookie-cutter Android tablets coming out claiming they were better than the iPad; on paper anyway. Apple is now matched up spec-for-spec with all these upcoming tablets, but has two distinct advantages: iTunes and name recognition.
- iTunes gives user a simple and quick way to not only organize all of their media (music/movies/tv shows/podcasts/apps/games) but to also sync it to their iPad or iPhone/iPod. The Android OS just turns the device into a thumb drive essentially and expects users to computer OS to move their media to their device. So they have to find their music/movies/pictures and then locate their Android device and copy that media to it. iTune user just hit "sync".
- Face it, Apple and all of their products have huge name recognition. My parents and friends know what an iPad/iPhone/iPod is. But if I asked my parents about the Galaxy S Tab, Xoom, Droid X, or Palm Pre they'd have no idea what I'm talking about. All the upcoming tablets (and Android phones for that matter) are going to be lost in a sea of anonymity with little to differentiate themselves from one another let alone Apple. Consumers see iPads and "some other tablet" so unless these other tablets start beating Apple on price (which they are not) or come out with a killer feature that the iPad does not have (oh and flash isn't it) them it will be a tough road ahead. Just ask anyone else who makes MP3 players about how powerful the iPod brand is. Can you even name two other (dedicated) MP3 player besides the iPod?
So will I be picking up the iPad 2? You bet, I might even be first in line again like I was for the first iPad launch. The iPad has changed my life, 80% of my internet use is done on the iPad. With it's never ending battery, light weight, connectivity options, and apps oh the apps it's has replaced my notebook and iPhone as go to devices. It's still not the best device for long-form or content creation but we're getting there. With the merger of OSX and iOS in Apple's newest computer OS 'Lion' the future is looking good.