Apple announced the iPad2 today, as expected. Also as expected, it is lighter and thinner than its predecessor.
Nobody knew if Steve Jobs would appear, but he did in fact make the event. He shared some stats about the iBookstore, which has 2,500 publishers. He also announced that Random House is bringing over 17,000 books to the store. He said that Apple has crossed the 200 million account mark (that includes all 3 of Apple's stores). He said they shipped the 100 millionth iPhone. He then said they've sold 15 million iPads in 2010, adding that that is more than every Tablet PC ever sold. Jobs said there's 65,000 apps that have been made solely for the Pad (as opposed to 100 for Google's Android Honeycomb).
Then came the announcement. The iPad 2 is faster with the A5 chip and a dual core processor. Apple says it's up to 2 times faster,a nd up to 9 times faster on graphics. It's 33% thinner (thinner than the iPhone 4) and only 1.3 pounds compared to 1.5 on the old one. This should make it a little better for reading publications like The Daily - as far as general comfort.
The iPad2 will be available through both AT&T and Verizon. Pricing is the same as the old iPad. It will ship as soon as March 11 in 26 countries, followed by more on March 25.
There is a new HDMI video out feature, mirrored video output supporting up to 1080p, which works with all apps. It supports roation, and you can charge the iPad while you're using it. The cable costs $39.
Jobs also introduced another accessory called a "smart cover" which covers the front of the iPad, and folds to prop the device up when using. It even wakes up the iPad automatically when it's opened and puts it to sleep when you close it. It just sticks to the device using magnets. Kind of cool.
There is a polyurethane and aleather option for $39 and $69 respectively.
A new version of iOS was also released - iOS 4.3. This comes with better Safari performance and an iTunes home sharing feature that lets you get your content over Wifi. There are also improvments to AirPlay and the ability to set preferences for mute/rotation lock.
iOS 4.3 also serves as a personal hotspot for the iPhone 4. It comes with some new software to support the cameras - PhotoBooth, which does some filtering effects on pictures, and of course FaceTime for the iPad.
The new OS version will be out for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch (3rd/4th gen) on March 11.
There is a new app called iMovie for video editing, which includes a precision editor, multitrack audio recording, new themes, AirPlay for Apple TV, the ability to share videos in HD, and a universal app.
Jobs also revealed GarageBand for iPad with touch instruments, guitar amps and effects, 8 track recording and mixing, over 250 loops, email AAC file of your song, and compatibility with the Mac version.
One big difference between this iPad release and the previous one is that it has competition to contend with now, and a growing amount of it from companies putting out devices running Google's Android operating system, and Microsoft's Windows platform, as well as HP webOS devices, and BlackBerry devices from RIM.
Another factor is that the iPad is no longer a shiny new object. People know full well what the iPad is, and that there are other options offering similar experiences. Prices will factor into many consumer decisions.
According to a recent report, 4.5 million tablets shipped in the third quarter of 2010. 93% were Apple iPads.
More to come...