Not even a medical leave could keep Apple CEO Steve Jobs (News - Alert) away from Apple’s big announcement this morning.
With the help of several Apple executives, Jobs unveiled Apple’s new iPad 2 in San Francisco this morning, a tablet that comes on the heels of the incredibly successful iPad which was sold to more than 15 million people in 2010. The latest tablet – which is the second version of the Apple iPad that launched January of 2010 – will be available in just a few days on March 11.
"Today we're here to talk about Apple's third post-PC blockbuster product,” said Jobs, according to a live blog at engadget. “That's how we think about these things. We started with the iPod, then we added the iPhone (News - Alert), and then the iPad. Everyone has been a blockbuster."
“When we said the iPad was magical, people laughed at us,” Jobs said. “But it's turned out to be magical. And people questioned whether it was an 'unbelievable' price – well ask our competitors."
The new iPad, which boasts an entirely new design, is faster, thinner and more competitive than any other touch screen tablets in the market, according to Apple officials – all this at the same starting price as the original iPad at $499.
The iPad 2 is 15 percent lighter than the original, at 1.3 pounds as opposed to 1.5 pounds, and is 33 percent thinner at 8.8 mm as opposed to 13.4 mm, making it thinner than the iPhone 4.
“When you get your hands on one, it feels totally different," Jobs said.
The iPad 2 relies on a new chip called the A5, which allows for dual core processes, up to two times faster CPU, up to nine times faster graphics (slide), the same low power as A4 and the first dual core tablet to ship in volume.
Other features include front and rear facing cameras for video and the gyroscope that is found in the iPhone and iPod touch.
“Having built in all this stuff, one of the striking things about the iPad 2 is that it's dramatically thinner,” Jobs said.
And for all of those customers who were waiting for their white iPhone, Jobs promises that the iPad 2 will be available in two colors – including white – starting on day one. There are models that are compatible for both Verizon and AT&T (News - Alert).
Even though more features will be packed into a smaller product, Apple promises that the new iPad 2 will not have to compromise when it comes to battery life. The product will have the same 10-hour battery life found in the iPad.
“When you add this together with over 65,000 apps… we think 2011 is going to be the year of iPad 2,” Jobs said, a comment that was met with roaring applause, according to engadget.
The iPad 2 follows the momentum created by the original iPad which generated $9.5 billion in 2010 for Apple and over 90 percent in market shares.
Despite being met with competition from other companies such as Samsung and HP, the iPad had more sales in 2010 than any tablet PC ever sold, according to Apple. As demonstrated in a video that aired during the press announcement, documenting the iPad’s success in 2010, individuals all around the world are turning to the tablet from corporate CEOs to doctors to students.
“No one predicted this would be as successful as it's been,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president, in the video.
“We've gotten off to an exceptional first year,” added Jobs. “We'd like to build on that.”
The iPad2 builds on that success as it offers several new features including HDMI video out, which works with all apps, supports rotation, and allows customers to charge their iPad while using it. The HDMI out will be sold for $39.
But what’s going to be “even more popular,” according to Jobs, is the iPad Smart Cover, a magnetic flap that covers the front of the device.
“We did a case for the original iPad,” Jobs said. “It worked pretty well, but we went to all the trouble to make this beautiful design, but then covered it up with the case. We thought we could do better than this with the iPad 2."
When the cover is pulled back, it automatically wakes up the iPad 2. Conversely, when the over is pulled over the device it puts the iPad 2 to sleep. Smart Cover comes in polyurethane and leather and five different colors for a price of $39 and $69 respectively.
Apple is using iOS 4.3 to make everything even better, according to Forstall.
“If you're sharing photos, you can use all of the built in slide show options,” he said. “And now in 4.3, apps from the store and even websites can do video or audio."
iOS 4.3 allows for iTunes home sharing, AirPlay (News - Alert) improvements, preference for iPad switch (mute or rotation lock) and Safari performance.
The iPad 2 also comes with a new camera and new built-in software including the Photo Booth. The software allows users to look at nine live video streams at once.
Another new feature is FaceTime, which is the best and easiest way to video conference, according to Apple. Users can FaceTime between two iPads, between an iPad and an iPhone, or between an iPad and a Mac.
The iPad 2 also offers the iMovie application, available March 11, that will allow boasts precision editor, multi-track audio, new themes, over 50 sound effects, video editing and new sharing options.
“Precision editing, sending HD video around with one tap,” said Jobs. “A lot of great features in an app we're going to price at just $4.99."
Apple did not forget about music lovers everywhere as it is also offering the GarageBand app for iPad for $4.99 starting March 11. The app offers touch instruments including the grand piano, organ and guitars; guitar amps and effects; eight-track recording and mixing and more than 250 loops. The feature allows for up to eight tracks to be recorded.
“We can't wait to hear all the creative things people will do when they get this in their hands," Jobs said.
As the press conference came to a close after an hour, Jobs said, “It's in Apple's DNA that technology is not enough. It's tech married with the liberal arts and the humanities. Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products.”
“Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market,” he added. “That is not the right approach to this. These are pos-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive."
Guess those who received invitations from Apple for the event, which read "Come see what 2011 will be the year of,” got their answer.