2011-03-03

Summary: Apple’s iPad 2 introductions

Today, Apple introduced the iPad 2, more of an evolutionary than a revolutionary improvement to the original iPad. This post summarizes what is new.
Hardware, compared to the “iPad 1”:
  • Shipping: March 11
  • Battery life: same 10 hours as before
  • Dual core processor: up to twice as fast, up to 9 times the graphics performance
  • Dimensions and weight: One third thinner, 15% lighter
  • 2 cameras: front VGA, rear 720p
  • 3-axis gyro sensor: complements accelerometer and compass to precisely detect your iPad’s orientation. Mainly interesting for games.
  • Screen resolution: 1024 x 768 (unchanged)
  • RAM: 512MB RAM
  • Pricing, Flash RAM: Same as old models
The Digital AV Adapter plugs into the dock connector. The left port is for HDMI, the right port is a dock connector that can be used for syncing and charging while HDMI is in operation.
Add-ons:
  • Digital AV Adapter: for $39 (see image above)
    • Sends both video and sound to HDMI-compatible devices.
    • Shows what’s on your iPad, with a higher resolution where possible.
    • You can charge and sync your iPad while using the adapter, because it passes the dock connector through.
    • Compatible with iPad 1, iPad 2, iPhone 4, iPod touch (4th generation).
    • Still images: Apps, presentations, websites, etc. display at up to 1080p for iPad 2 and up to 720p for iPad, iPhone 4 and iPod touch (4th generation)
    • Movies: play at up to 720p
  • Smart Cover: snaps on magnetically. The iPad goes to sleep if you close it and wakes up if you open it. Several colors, two materials: plastic for $39, leather for $69.
The Smart Cover snaps on magnetically. Only the lower bar stays fixed, the side hinges and the upper bar move to allow the cover to both protect the front and to be folded behind the back.


The Smart Cover, folded behind the back to prop up the iPad for video viewing or FaceTime. You can also rotate the iPad 180  degrees (from portrait to reverse portrait) and put it flat in front of you for easy typing.
Software:
  • Configurable side switch: can either mute or lock rotation.
  • Video mirroring: shows what’s on the iPad’s screen (via the Digital AV adapter, VGA adapter, etc.).
    • Recognizes the current orientation (portrait versus landscape).
  • AirPlay: now streams video in addition to audio. Can be implemented by any app.
  • iTunes Home Sharing:  play content from your desktop iTunes on your iPad, via Wi-Fi.
  • Personal hotspot (an iPhone-only feature of iOS 4.2)
  • New included apps: Photo booth, FaceTime.
  • New Apple apps for purchase: iMovie, Garage Band.
Comments:
  • Smart Cover: is one of the most important features of the iPad 2. Apple has paid a lot of attention to detail.
    • Covering only the front is a good idea. Current cases also cover the iPad’s back, which adds significant bulk.
    • Especially Apple’s old case is difficult to put on and off, while the Smart Cover simply snaps on and off, magnetically.
    • Letting the cover (de)activate the iPad makes it feel like it is an integral part of the device, similar to the lid of a notebook. [4] has details about how this is done.
    • Portrait mode: propping the iPad up in portrait mode is not well supported, but would be nice to have for FaceTime.
  • No Thunderbolt: It was probably too soon, but Thunderbolt will eventually enable killer features and, I’m guessing, replace the dock connector.
  • Competing with Android: The iPad 2 takes away the Android tablets’ key differentiator, dual-core processors. And it comes out sooner than most Honeycomb tablets.
  • Bringing back the physical rotation lock switch: Thank god! The software rotation lock is not very user-friendly, because you needed to many gestures to get to it. It is also awkward to access if you want to unlock and the iPad is already in a different orientation.
  • AirPlay: is a great for doing presentations wirelessly. You currently need a device like the $99 Apple TV to do so, but projectors might have built-in AirPlay support in the future.
  • RAM: If the iPad does indeed have 512MB (iPhone 4: 512MB, iPad 1: 256MB), then this is still not much. Most Android tablets have the more appropriate 1GB of RAM (but Android is less frugal with RAM than iOS).
  • Apple’s web page: Does anyone else think that the new scheme with an intro page makes things more complicated than previously?
More information:
  1. Apple’s iPad page
  2. The Next Six Months”: John Gruber thinks that Apple might introduce a high-end version of the iPad 2 towards the end of the year. It would complement the current line up and have a higher-resolution display, likely twice the current resolution (four times as many pixels).
  3. iPad 2 first hands-on! (update: even more video!)
  4. How the iPad 2 Smart Cover performs its magic
  5. Update 2011-03-23: Review: iPad 2 is not revolutionary, but it is great [Key observations: Compared to the iPad 1, most things are better, battery is roughly the same, but the speaker is worse.] 
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