Apple released the second generation iPad, just before this issue went to press. The iPad 2 ships with the new iOS 4.3 operating system, which includes the following enhancements:
- iTunes Home Sharing will allow you to access your entire music, movies, and TV show library without having to sync with your computer. As implied by the name, Home Sharing works over your home Wi-Fi network. Of course, you will still want to sync content for on-the-go use. But you probably won't need to sync as much content to your iPad. Hence, a less expensive version of the iPad 2 with less storage memory might meet your needs.
- AirPlay has been enhanced. You can wirelessly reroute your A/V content, including photo slideshows, to an Apple TV from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
- The new version of iOS allows you to choose what the toggle switch does. It can either mute audio or act as an orientation lock!
- The iPhone 4 can now act as a personal hotspot, even for AT&T. You may need to pay more for a monthly data plan that supports this. In addition, if you've been holding on to your unlimited plan from AT&T, you'll have to drop it and sign up for their 2GB plan, plus pay $20/month extra for the tethering plan. However, the tethering plan adds an additional 2GB of data, which can be used by your iPhone as well. Verizon still offers an unlimited plan, but it doesn't include tethering. For $20/month more, you get 2GB strictly for tethered data. In the end, if you carry your iPhone 4 with you all the time, the tethering option might be attractive. For example, you could buy the less-expensive Wi-Fi only version of the iPad, tether it to the iPhone, and forego an iPad-specific 3G data plan. Check with your carrier as these plans change with some frequency.
- PhotoBooth is a photo application that has been part of the Mac OS for some time; it is now available as an iOS app, at least for the iPad 2. Several fun effects are supported in real-time. PhotoBooth is currently limited to the iPad 2, likely due to the graphics-intensive nature of the app. It would be nice to have a version for the smaller devices, even with one effect at-a-time, but perhaps that will be a future enhancement.
- iMovie (formerly $9.99, now $4.99 and support for iPad 2) is an optional app that has been available for the iPhone 4 and 4th generation iPod touch. iMovie includes a precision editor, multiple audio tracks, more themes, AirPlay support, and HD output. In addition to YouTube, users can upload videos to Facebook, vimeo, CNN iReport and, of course, iTunes. It may feel awkward to shoot a video using the tablet-sized iPad, but it should be a lot easier editing it using the iPad's larger screen.
- GarageBand has made the leap from the Mac to the iPad. This optional $4.99 iPad app will let you play the piano, organ, guitars, drum, and bass using the touchscreen, or with the right adapter, you can plug in your guitar and play away! The Smart Instruments feature lets you to play chords without knowing how to play the real instrument. There are a ton of guitar, keyboard, and drum apps already available in the App Store, but with the release of GarageBand, they're going to have to play catch-up.
- iOS 4.3 will support the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, generations 3 & 4 of the iPod touch, the original iPad, and the iPad 2. Older iOS devices are left out in the cold. (Check out the "Sell your old iPad" sidebar toward the end of this article.)