Let's cut to the chase. The iPad 2 was just announced and here's the scoop:
1) Two cameras. A front facing camera was overdue, but two brings the iPad 2 up to par with the iPhone 4 and latest iPod touch. I can't wait for FaceTime chats with the big screen!
2) A 2X faster A5 dual core CPU with 9X graphics performance! There's a gyroscope, too.
3) Thinner and lighter, at 1.3 pounds instead of 1.5 pounds for the original iPad. At 8.8mm, not only is the iPad 2 thinner than the 13.4mm original iPad, but it's thinner than the original iPhone 4, which is 9.3mm!
4) A white model will be available on Day 1, which is a nice surprise. March 11th in the U.S. and March 25th in 26 more countries.
5) Support for both Verizon and AT&T, if you pay $130 extra for the 3G model.
6) The price remains the same, as does the 10 hour battery life, despite the much thinner packaging. Expect used iPads to hit eBay at $350 or so.]
7) A wonderful and welcome addition is a $39 cable for 1080p HDMI, which (unlike Apple's VGA out cable) allows you to charge the iPad while using. All apps work because the output is mirrored. As a developer, this will be great for demos. Teachers will like it too. And it may address some of the concerns I've had with Keynote.
8) Case makers take note as Apple has added a Smart Cover that attaches and auto-aligns via magnets. When the cover is applied, the iPad goes to sleep and when it is removed, the iPad turns on. The microfiber lining keeps the screen clean and the exterior is available in leather ($69) or polyurethane ($39), 5 colors each. The cover can also fold up to work as a stand. All of this is nice, but I want to see what other case makers can come up with. Apple always wants to cover as little as possible (think about the bumpers), letting the original device be exposed, but I like to have my gadget fully protected. I imagine manufacturers will be able to build-on to the magnetic attachment concept and add their own special touches.
9) iOS 4.3 is a big part of the iPad 2. Performance enhancements are to be expected, but new features include the following:
- iTunes home sharing and AirPlay enhancements, so you can wirelessly reroute your A/V content, including photo slideshows, to an AppleTV from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
- Apple listened and now allows you to choose what the toggle switch does, either mute audio or act as an orientation lock!
- iPhone 4 can act as a personal hotspot. This is a feature HTC devices and others have offered and has long been sought after by iPhone owners. Check with your carrier as to whether they will allow this and if they do, you may need a supported plan.
- Photo Booth has been part of the Mac OS for some time, and now you can use an app version on the iPad. Several fun effects are supported, all in real-time.
10) iMovie has always been an extra-cost app, as opposed to being a bundled component of iOS. Now that the iPad 2 has a pair of video cameras, iMovie has become a Universal app, i.e. it supports the iPad, . You get a precision editor, multiple audio tracks, more themes, AirPlay support, and HD output. In addition to YouTube, you can upload to FaceBook, vimeo, CNN iReport and of course, iTunes. It may feel awkward to shoot video using a tablet, but it will be a lot easier to edit it using the iPad's larger screen compared to the iPhone. The $9.99 price has been cut in half, making it a bargain at $4.99. The new version of iMovie will be available on March 11th... assuming it gets approved by Apple. I'm joking of course!
11) GarageBand has made the leap from the Mac to the iPad. You can use built-in touchscreen instruments (piano, organ, guitars, drum, bass) or actually plug in a guitar! The Smart Instruments feature makes it foolproof to play chords without knowing how to play the real instrument. There are a ton of guitar, keyboard and drum apps that just got put on notice, although the Apple app is for the iPad only. The $4.99 app will be available on March 11th.
There is a lot to be excited about with the iPad 2. I'm not sure which feature I like best... the size, speed, cameras, or even the color choices. But I do know where I'll be on March 11th. See you at the Apple store!