What's bigger than an iPhone, smaller than a MacBook, and the most anticipated Apple product since the original iPhone? On January 27, at a special invitation only event at the San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Steve Jobs announced Apple's new "magical, revolutionary product" -- the iPad. Meant to fill the gap between the laptop and phone, Jobs said it was "way better" than either. Let's take a look at it.
Thin, lightweight, and powerful
The iPad shares many hardware features with the iPhone, including an accelerometer, an orientation sensor to switch from portrait to landscape mode, solid-state memory, and the same 30-pin doc connector. Connectivity is also virtually the same, with wireless 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 EDR included on all models.
iPad runs iPhone apps!
The iPad will run a version of iPhone OS, and the new device can run virtually any app developed for the iPhone or iPod touch. Aps developed for the iPhone can run on the iPad in native resolution but is large enough to touch type on.
The larger screen not only makes familiar iPhone apps like Calendar, Mail, and Safari look stunning, it also provides screen real estate for more complex elements in the UI. For example, Calendar display a split-sreen view that describes the day's appointments on the left and shows you a color map of used time slots on the right. The split-screen view in Contacts displays you contacts list on the left and the full information for the contact you've selected on the right.
An ebook reader and more
Although not build into the iPad, Apple will offer a free app called iBooks, which will allow you to download and read books from it's new virtual bookstore. The new iBooks store will be accessed from and as easy to use as iTunes.
The ultimate media device?
The iPad is not the world's first tablet PC or the first eBook reader. Toshiba, Lenovo, Acer, and others sell Windows-based tablets, and Amazon has had considerable success with it's Kindle. But Apple thinks the iPad will reinvent the category by offering a vastly superior multi-touch interface an easy access to a wide-variety of apps and media via iTunes. Aple hopes to make the iPad the ultimate media device by leveraging it's existing assets which include over 100 million paying iTunes customers, established relationships with music and video content providers, and over 100,000 iPhone OS app developers.