When Apple holds a press conference, people tend to listen, and today was no exception as they unveiled the upgrade to the iPad, the aptly named iPad 2.
For those expecting the iPad 2 to be a completely different product than the iPad (maybe the iToaster? I’m not sure), it was a sorely disappointing announcement. For those expecting the iPad 2 to be an upgraded version of the iPad with a few new features and upgraded hardware performance, well we were much happier with today’s announcement.
There have been some impressive hardware changes, but the iPad 2 also marks a shift from the perception of the iPad and tablets being for media consumption, to being an option for creating compelling content.
In addition to an upgraded, dual-core processor, the iPad 2 boasts the dual front- and rear-facing cameras found on the current generation of iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple has also added a gyroscope to give more options for how you can position the iPad, and take advantage of games and apps that use it for fine control. Even with the addition of hardware, Apple has also managed to make the iPad 2 thinner, going from 13.4mm to 8.8mm, and dropping in weight to about 1.3 lbs (with small differences depending on model).
Apple was quick to make use of these upgraded specifications by also announcing ports of their iMovie and Garageband software for use on the iPad. These fully featured editing programs seem to be a shift towards making the tablet computer a stronger option when comparing it to a laptop for a device to purchase to use in-between a desktop and a smart phone by allowing for more content creation, a distinction that the original iPad lacked.
More interesting than the Apple contributions though, will be what third-party developers do with the upgraded power and possibilities available on the iPad 2. The addition of the gyroscope and cameras alone will allow for some very interesting apps that wouldn’t have been possible last year.
The other additions to the new iPad 2, while less impressive, show some great quality of life improvements, and show that Apple does listen to consumers. The ability to lock the orientation and mute the iPad with a single button, as well as addition of an accessory that allows for real time HDMI output from the iPad 2, all make the tablet just a little bit more convenient (which is, as far as I can tell, the point of a tablet).
A few specs on the tablet are still unknown, including the amount of RAM, as well as the actual graphics processor, so it’s still hard to say exactly how the iPad 2 will line up against it’s closest competitors, but the new additions and low price points that mirror the original iPad, starting at $499 and peaking at $829, are sure to give other tablet manufacturers a run for their money. For perspective, the closest current competitor, the Xoom from Motorola is at around $799 (depending on plans and options), with the most equivalent iPad 2 priced at $729.
Let us know in the comments what you think of the iPad 2. Are you planning on picking one up as soon as they’re available?