In the center of the iPad 2 is a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor, that ought to offer a boost above the 1GHz single-core Apple A4 in the first iPad. Apple says the A5 is two times faster as opposed to previous processor, while graphics performance is nine times faster–welcome news for everything from games to video-editing apps like the soon-to-be-released iPad-optimized version of iMovie.“The graphics on this thing are wonderful,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who made a surprise appearance at the Wednesday event despite being on medical leave.
The A5 also has a similar low-power consumption rating like the A4. Like the original iPad, the new model promises 10 hours of battery life. The iPad 2 features two built-in cameras, for use with FaceTime video chat along with other apps. FaceTime can be utilized between two iPad 2s, between the iPad 2 and an iPhone or iPod touch, or between an iPad 2 along with a Mac using FaceTime for Mac. Much like FaceTime on other iOS devices, you can actually use the front-facing camera to capture your individual image; you are able to change to the rear-facing camera during conversations to show chat participants what you are looking at without needing to flip around your iPad.
Apple also announced a brand new Photo Booth app on the iPad. The app uses the front-facing camera to snap your image, that you can then alter with eight included effects. The Photo Booth app previews all effects on one-screen in real-time.
The iPad 2’s front camera can perform recording VGA-resolution (640-by-480) video at 30 frames per second with audio. The front camera can take still photos at 640-by-480. The back camera can record HD video at 720p at 30 frames per second with audio. When in still camera mode, the back camera has a 5X digital zoom.
The iPad 2 comes with a 9.7-inch LCD screen with a 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch, just like the original iPad.
Overall, the iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, weighing 1.3 pounds and measuring 0.35 inches thick. The original iPad was 1.5 pounds (1.6 pounds for the 3G iPad) and 0.5 inches thick. The iPad 2 is actually thinner as opposed to iPhone 4, which is 0.37 inches thick.
Other new features will include a gyroscope, which has previously been as part of the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. Apple says the gyroscope feature works with the iPad 2’s built-in accelerometer and compass to sense the direction the iPad is headed and how it’s moving. Which should affect gaming and mapping apps, giving both more of a 360-degree feel.
The iPad 2 supports 1080p video out utilizing an Apple VGA Adapter or the newly announced Apple Digital AV Adapter. Users will also be free to choose from a black or white iPad, which will both ship at the same time. That stands in stark contrast to the iPhone 4, which was also supposed to be available in both black and white options; however, the white iPhone 4 ended up being continually delayed, with model scheduled to come sometime this spring.
Apple offers six models of the iPad 2, with pricing just like the original iPad’s. You will find three Wi-Fi only models: a $499 version with 16GB of flash storage; a $599 model with 32GB of flash storage; and a $699 model with 64GB of flash storage.
Apple will offer three 3G-equipped models: a $629 version with 16GB of flash storage; a $729 model with 323GB of flash storage; and a $829 model with 64GB of flash storage. According to Apple’s iPad 3G Website, the 3G-enabled iPad 2 is made to run on either AT&T or Verizon, but not both carriers for the same tablet.
Apple says the iPad 2 will be available on March 11 through the online and retail Apple Stores. You can’t make an order for that new tablet until March 11, according to Apple’s online store. As of this writing , the original 16GB Wi-Fi iPad was available through Apple’s clearance section for $399.
The iPad 2 specifications call for iTunes 10.2, which Apple released Wednesday afternoon. iPad 2 also requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later (or Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 if you’re using that other platform.).
In a little less than a year, the iPad has become a big part of Apple’s business. Jobs said during Wednesday’s presentation that Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads during a nine-month period in 2010. According to Apple, the iPad has more than a 90 percent share of the tablet market. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards all over again,” said Jobs in a press release.
At the event, Jobs acknowledge the role of the retail Apple Stores as a key to the success of the iPad. The stores’ built-in ability to support the iPad was key to educating customers and to handle customer questions. “Without these stores, I don’t think we’d have been successful either,” Jobs said.
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,” said Jobs at the end of the iPad 2 event. “That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the end result that makes our hearts sing.”