Live: Apple's iPad 2 introduction
SAN FRANCISCO--My liveblog of Apple's introduction of the iPad 2 is ongoing. (The original introductory text appears at the end.)
11:14 a.m. PST: Jobs also thanks those employees' families "for allowing us to work our tails off." He then invites us to try out the iPad 2 in an exhibit area next door, which I will be doing shortly. Closing soundtrack: "A Hard Day's Night," by Apple's favorite band. And that's a wrap.
11:13 a.m. PST: Jobs' closing statement, recapping his earlier thesis that Apple stands at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. "That's what makes our hearts sing." Competitors, he says, want to market tablets as PCs, sold by their specifications; Apple wants to sell ease of use and elegance. Understatement of the day: "I think we stand a pretty good chance of being competitive in this market." Jobs asks the Apple employees who worked on the iPad 2 in the audience to stand up for a round of applause.
11:04 a.m. PST: Jobs is doing his customary wrap-up, touting the new product's features, and answers the question raised in Apple's invitation: "We think 2011 is going to be the year of the iPad 2." And now it's time for another video, this one featuring Jonathan Ive and other Apple executives talking up the new tablet's features.
11:03 a.m. PST: You can record up to eight tracks on Garage Band, save the mix, then send it to your Mac or PC's iTunes library or e-mail the song. Jobs comes back on and waves his hands in amazement. "Anyone can make music now." (Technically anyone has always been able to make music with their voice.) Garage Band will sell for $4.99, available March 11.
10:58 a.m. PST: "Smart instruments" are apparently aimed at people like me. The smart guitar, for instance, has chords labeled on the frets on the screen; pick one, then strum or pick away. (Yes, you can now air-guitar with an iPad.)
10:56 a.m. PST: Garage Band senses how hard or soft you tap the screen to provide a more accurate piano/organ/synthesizer/drum-playing experience. It will not, however, make me sound like I know what I'm doing on any of those instruments.
10:50 a.m. PST: Jobs is back up to rhapsodize briefly over the iPad 2: "It's awesome. 1.3 lbs. It blows my mind." Now it's time for the next demo--the iPad version of Garage Band.
10:49 a.m. PST: iMovie detects faces and keeps them in focus when applying the "Ken Burns effect" --i.e., panning over a still photo. It includes a variety of preset themes, with their own opening screens and theme music, and offers direct uploads to such sites as Facebook and CNN's iReport. In other words, it's not far from the desktop version in its overall capabilities.
10:45 a.m. PST: The iPad edition of iMovie has the same visual structure as the original Mac release, but with far less clutter on the screen. The lack of a mouse and keyboard here forces an extra level of discipline in interface design.
10:43 a.m. PST: Jobs returns onstage. (In case you're curious about his appearance, he looks thin--but not more so than he did at September's press event--but upbeat.) We're now watching a demo of the new iPad version of Apple's iMovie app.
10:40 a.m. PST: The iOS 4.3 update will be a free download on March 11 for existing iPads, the GSM version of the iPhone 4 (which gains the Verizon version's Personal Hotspot" feature) and third and fourth-generation iPod touch devices.
10:39 a.m. PST: The iPad 2's two cameras have new software to support them. A version of the Photo Booth application included on Macs lets you apply silly special effects to the camera's video input, which Forstall demonstrates to everyone's amusement. FaceTime video-conferencing is onboard as well and, as demoed, works pretty much as it does on an iPhone, iPod touch or Mac.
10:34 a.m. PST: Scott Forstall, Apple's vice president for iPhone software, comes on stage to talk about the next version, 4.3, of the iPad's iOS operating system. It offers faster browsing in Safari. Support for "iTunes home sharing" lets you stream your computer's media library to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Upgraded AirPlay software lets you play video, not just audio, from Web sites. And you can choose to have the small switch on the side of the iPad mute its volume or stop it from rotating the screen's orientation automatically.
10:31 a.m. PST: A "smart cover" case that magnetically graps the iPad to protect the screen--and wakes the iPad when you open it, then folds up to prop up the device. It comes in a choice of colors and with either a polyurethane (Jobs notes that they make spacesuits out of polyurethane) or leather exterior, with a microfiber lining on the inside the clean the screen. The former costs $39, the latter $69.
10:28 a.m. PST: Jobs lists some upcoming accessories. A $39 HDMI output cable (so you can plug an iPad into an HDTV without buying a dock)
10:25 a.m. PST: The iPad 2 ships March 11 in the U.S., in "at least 26 more countries" on March 25.
10:24 a.m. PST: "We have the same legendary 10 hour battery life... with all this extra stuff in it and dramatically thinner." And the pricing remains unchanged, starting at $499 for a 16 gigabyte model.
10:22 a.m. PST: The iPad 2 weighs 1.3 lbs., down from the original's 1.5 lbs. It comes in two colors, black and white--and, Jobs says, "well be shipping it in white from day one." Versions will support AT&T and Verizon's 3G mobile broadband from day one too.
10:20 a.m. PST: The iPad 2--please forget my comment above about Apple not using that name--is an all-new design built around a new dual-core A5 chip with twice the processing performance and nine times the graphic performance. It has two cameras and a gyroscope to match that on the iPhone 4. And it's a third thinner--thinner than the iPhone 4.
10:17 a.m. PST: "What about 2011? Everybody's got a tablet. Is it going to be the year of the copycats?" But Apple isn't standing still; today, Apple is introducing iPad 2.
10:15 a.m. PST: To summarize the video so far, the iPad is really, really great.
10:11 a.m. PST: The App Store now boasts more than 350,000 titles, of which 65,000 are optimized for the iPad. Competitors, he says, are "struggling" to launch with maybe 100 tablet-friendly titles. And now we're watching a video about "2010: the year of the iPad."
10:09 a.m. PST: Jobs defines the iPad as Apple's "third post-PC blockbuster product" (after the iPod and iPhone) and notes that "the majority of our revenues come from these post-PC products." He brags that Apple sold 15 million iPads in 2010--"more than every Tablet PC ever sold." Ouch... and "our competitors were just flummoxed."
10:06 a.m. PST Jobs explains that Apple has been working on this project for a while, and "I didn't want to miss it." He starts with some updates on Apple's progress. Its iBooks store has seen more than 100 million titles downloaded, with Random House now bringing its 17,000+ books to its catalogue. Apple has more than 200 million credit cards on file in its digital-download stores. Apple has paid out more than $2 billion to developers. And the company recently shipped its 100 millionth iPhone.
10:03 a.m. PST: Steve Jobs walks out to raucous applause.
10:00 a.m. PST: We're waiting for the show to start. The soundtrack so far has been all Beatles, all the time--the current song being "Here Comes The Sun," an appropriate tune for an overcast, drizzly day here.
At 10 a.m. local time here, Apple will introduce the next version of its iPad. That much seems certain from the invitations the company sent to reporters and analysts last week.
But what will this new model include?
Some of that appears easy to predict as well. As I noted in January, the next iPad (I refuse to call it the "iPad 2," on the grounds that Apple won't either) has to include a camera for FaceTime video calling. A lighter, thinner model also seems obvious. And nobody should be surprised to see versions of it support both AT&T and Verizon's 3G mobile-broadband services.
A demo of an updated version of the iPad's iOS software also makes plenty of sense.
But it's not nearly as clear that the next iPad will have a significantly higher-resolution screen, an SD Card slot or a Mini DisplayPort output--all subjects of past rumors. I also highly doubt that it will come in white; why would you even want a tablet in a color that will show off your fingerprints and any associated dirt that easily?
Could there be a surprise feature nobody's mentioned much yet? Sure. Maybe Apple will add a Thunderbolt port, matching the input-output technology of its latest round of laptops. But I have no evidence for that.
We'll find out soon enough--come back at 1 Eastern for a liveblog of the festivities. In the meantime, I welcome your own speculation in the comments.
| March 2, 2011; 1:00 PM ET
Categories: Apple, Mobile
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