New iPad and AppleTV Introduced; Here’s All You Need to Know

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Unless you’ve been on a camping trip on the moon, you know by now that Apple has introduced the latest iPad, which they’re calling iPad 2S iPad 3 iPad HD iPad HDS iPad Unicorn Tears The New iPad. Presumably, next year’s model will be New New iPad, and so on.

Quite a bit was covered during the 90 minute keynote presentation by Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, and Phil Schiller, but here’s a quick round-up of what’s new and notable in both hardware and software:

 

Hardware

 

AppleTV

 

Basically the same as the existing model, except it now outputs in full 1080p HD (thanks to a faster graphics processor) instead of measly 720p. There’s also a software update which brings a new interface (also available for the current model), but that appears to be about it.

Should you get it? If you have an iPad or iPhone, AppleTV is a great and underrated accessory thanks to AirPlay. It’s also an excellent buy for conference rooms, as you can wirelessly mirror your iPad or iPhone screen to an HDTV for presentations, browsing Google Earth, etc. If you don’t have an iPad or iPhone, but want easy access to iTunes’ collection of movies and TV shows, plus Netflix and other services, it’s a no-brainer.

 

iPad

 

Retina Display. Easily the most harped-upon feature of the entire announcement. Early reports from those at the keynote who spent a few minutes with demo models backstage indicate that it has to be seen to be believed. Here’s what The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple had to say about it:

 

It’s impossible to put into words just how good the Retina display is on the iPad. It’s not just images that look sharper, it’s text too. Reading a Web site or an iBook on the iPad’s display is incredible. Even the home screen on the iPad is crisper and sharper than I expected.

 

In short, “Retina display” is Apple marketing jitsu for, “so damn clear your eyes can’t even make out individual pixels”. Scaling the iPhone 4S’ crystal clear Retina display to 9.7″ isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s a remarkable feat of graphics processor design and display quality. This will prove to be a killer feature in about a week, once people get to experience it.

A5X Processor. Upgraded from the iPad 2′s A5 processor, this is what powers the iPad’s Retina display and makes all your swipes and apps silky smooth.

Camera. A drastic upgrade from the mediocre camera in the iPad 2. The new iPad now features a 5 megapixel camera, nearly on par with the iPhone 4S’, with autofocus, face detection, white balancing, and 1080p video recording with image stabilization. Unfortunately Apple didn’t come up with a solution to looking like a complete nerd while recording video with your giant tablet thing. Put that thing down.

4G LTE. Apple proved me wrong on this one – I didn’t think they’d pull it off so soon. Battery life issues have plagued every other 4G device on the market, but Apple has managed to squeeze a 4G antenna into the same form factor as the iPad 2, while also maintaining its best-in-class…

Battery Life. Basically unchanged, which is remarkable given the Retina display, more powerful processor, and 4G antenna (typically a huge power hog). 10 hours of general use, 9 hours while browsing over 4G.

 

Software

 

iOS 5.1

 

Several bug fixes and little improvements not really worth getting into, but it’s required for other goodies like iPhoto and so on, so go ahead and get the update. To update, Tap Settings > General > Software Update.

 

iPhoto

 

The star of the show in terms of software. Several times during the on-stage demo, I found myself saying, “Holy $@*#”. Here’s Macworld’s quick rundown:

While Apple didn’t spend much time talking about iOS 5.1, it did offer details on various other pieces of software. The flagship announcement was Apple’s completion of the iLife suite for iOS with the introduction of iPhoto for iPad and iPhone. The $5 app, available Wednesday, offers not just photo organization tools, but a suite of touch-based photo manipulation and editing tools as well. You can tap on a specific section of a photo to edit its properties—tap the sky, for example, to adjust its saturation without affecting the rest of your photo. The app also offers touch-based controls for setting white balance, adjusting skin tones, and more.

 

iWork

 

Apple also updated its iWork suite of apps, including Pages, Keynote and Numbers. Boooooring.

 

Other Things to Note

 

  • Pricing and model line-up are exactly the same as iPad 2. Wi-Fi only models start at $499, AT&T & Verizon 4G models start at $529.
  • iPad 2 is still available and its prices have been slashed by $100 across the board. That means you can now get an iPad for $399. That’s huge.
  • iPad now has dictation support, just like an iPhone 4S. Tap a button, start talking, and Siri will transcribe your speech into any text field, such as an email or text message.
  • The lock screen camera shortcut I highlighted in a previous post now appears by default in iOS 5.1. No need to double-press the home button.
  • iTunes in the Cloud now supports movies, in addition to music and TV shows. That means you can browse through and watch previous movie purchases as many times as you want, free of charge.
  • You can now upload photos to iCloud’s photo gallery and share them with friends.
  • You’re still reading? Go download iPhoto already!