Apple unveils “The new iPad”

Apple unleashes their latest game-changer on the world.

As is fairly commonplace, Apple began their presentation with sales figures, flaunting their store format and the 110 million visitors they had there in just the fourth quarter of 2011. If I had figures even one tenth of a half of a quarter percent of that, I’d be over the moon, so I don’t blame them!

There was no mention of Steve Jobs at the outset of the presentation. Not sure how I feel about that one, but it’s neither here nor there, I guess.

Another astonishing set of figures: 62 million iOS devices sold in a single quarter, bringing the all-time total of iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad sales to just over 315 million devices. What an incredible feat. At an average price probably simmering near $300, that is nearly $95 billion dollars in revenue, not including any sort of carrier payments, application revenues, or computer hardware and software. Wow.

There are 585,000 apps in the app store, so the momentum actually seems to be slowing lately, but it’s not like there are only a couple to choose from, so I think we’re okay.

We’re getting our first look at iOS 5.1. I still think we’ll see iOS 6.0 today, but maybe we’ll just be privy to iOS 5.2 as a little preview. Who knows….

A 1080p AppleTV was just announced along with iTunes in the Cloud supporting movies. I guess that Apple television set is really far off, after all. The interface on the new box (which still appears to be the same size and shape) seems tweaked and more colourful somehow, but kind of looks like a step back in user interface progression at the same time.

The new AppleTV is sticking around at the $99 US price point.

Tim is off to talking about iPad! Let’s get into this good stuff.

They sold 15.4 million iPads in the last quarter alone. That puts them 0.3 million above Hewlett Packard’s PC shipments for the same quarter. Imagine!

Tim is saying that people overwhelmingly prefer the iPad for browsing the web and emails. I can’t agree with that as I still think the experience is incomplete when it comes to those two specific tasks. The lack of a file system on iPad is difficult to swallow for me, but let’s see how the next iOS stacks up and makes the experience even better.

I understand the device being great for games, but I’m not sure about the notion that it’s better than console gaming. Even portable games have a certain leg up, but for casual portable games, the iPad and iOS devices have much more variety, for sure. And it doesn’t look like Sony or Nintendo are going to catch up, even with their online store efforts, until they stretch their platforms wide open for any and all developers. Even then, it’ll be a tricky proposition. How do you argue with 315 million iOS devices on the market?!

Apple is absolutely right in saying that they’ve nailed the experience. Not building smartphone apps for a tablet is the key. Sure, you can run iPhone apps, but they’re only if you need to. iPad apps are beautiful, crisp, and clear. 100 competing tablets were released in 2011, and they can’t gain momentum because they change so frequently. With the iPad, they keep improving, and it’s making it that much more difficult for competitors to come out with anything even close in a reasonable amount of time.

The one thought floating around my head for a little while was the the new device may not be called iPad 3 or iPad HD, but rather the new iPad. And guess what we have here. Apple just unveiled the new iPad and it’s called, well, the new iPad!

Phil Schiller is on stage to demo the device, and it looks very similar to the iPad 2, of course, but has the Retina Display! Now, will it actually be a retina display (a display greater than 300 pixels per inch) or just double-resolution? I’m more than fine with double the resolution, but if they want to go to 1.2x to hit that 300 ppi mark, we’re not complaining!

And it poses an interesting challenge for his demo now: the iPad resolution is actually higher than the display projector they have at the Yerba Buena centre, so they’re zooming in images to show the quality. Wow. Time for a new projection system, Phil!

The new iPad has over a million pixels more than a 1080p display (beats it by more than a third!) and this is the most pixels ever shipped in a mobile device. Remember the clarity of that tiny OLED TV that Sony release a few years back? That was an inch larger and had a third fewer pixels, and that looked incredible. Holy shit.

The screen also has 44% better colour saturation, which is saying a lot considering the last iPad’s display was incredible as it was.

Sure enough, the A5X processor is powering this beast. It’s a quad-core processor and gives you a reported four times the performance than nVidia’s latest system-on-a-chip, the Tegra 3.

The camera is also much-improved, using Apple’s new 5-element technology from the iPhone 4S’s camera with a backside-illuminated sensor, but at five megapixels instead of eight. It’s also got face-detecion, auto-focus, auto-white balance, and the awesome retina display to show off it’s beautiful productions.

It’ll also capture 1080p video, which is pretty much a given considering the display it has to live up to. If this means more people holding up iPads at events, I’m going to be pissed.

It doesn’t look like we’re getting full-on Siri in this iPad, but rather voice dictation for speech-to-text purposes. We are only about forty minutes into what is typically an hour or hour-and-a-half long presentation, though, so sit tight and maybe there’ll be a surprise!

LTE just announced! See, now I’m excited! The lack of Siri kind of harsher my buzz, but 4G LTE support brings in a new world of speed to the new iPad. It will peak at 73Mbps, which means you’ll probably see something like 40-50Mbps minimum in the real world. For people in coverage areas, you’ll be loving this! Rogers better be on board with this!

For the record, you’re looking at about three and a half times the speed of your typical 3G connection when on 4G LTE.

They’re doing a comparison of 3G and 4G on-screen. Do we all remember the comparison between 3G and WiFi at the iPhone 3G keynote back in 2008? This is truly our next generation!

It might be worth noting that they have not said this will be in a specific model of the iPad or will be optional. It is very possible that the iPad 2 stays on the market in a WiFi-only format around $299 for a 16GB model, and the new iPad launches at $499 with all the new features. That would certainly solve the “price is too high” from competitors releasing sub-$300 tablets, while making the new iPad more relevant. Apple pretty much did that with the iPhone 4S and Siri. The iPhone 4 clearly has the power to run Siri since all its voice-recognition software is up in the cloud, but they needed something to twist people into an upgrade. Could be……

Rogers, Bell, and Telus support confirmed as LTE partners in Canada! They join AT&T and Verizon in the USA.

And battery life once again remains the same! 10 hours on 3G service and 9 hours on 4G. Not a huge difference at all, and worth every extra minute of charging for the speed gains! In fact, you’ll probably save an hour worth of loading time out of every nine hours, so you’ll make it back anyway!

The weight is also relatively similar: 1.4lbs for the new iPad (up from 1.3 on the iPad 2, but still lighter than the original’s 1.5lbs). It’s also only 9.4mm, or about a half-centimeter thicker than the iPad 2. Again, nearly a third thinner than the original iPad.

Unfortunately, my rant about the single model was for naught, as the new iPad pricing stays exactly the same as the iPad 2: $499/$599/$699 for 16, 32, or 64GB, respectively, and $629/$729/$829 for adding LTE to each model.

The new iPad will be available March 16th, in their major seven countries: USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan. That’s a week this Friday, folks! It’s also their biggest rollout of iPad ever!

All of Apple’s stock applications have been up-res’d to the new display resolution, and existing apps will be scaled-up, of course, Also, in the next few weeks and months, developers will certainly be giving their apps the new resolution treatment as well.

James Shelton, a Game Design Director at Namco is showing off their first “console-quality” title for iPad, Sky Gamblers. Now, I did it without thinking, but I’m not sure the words console-quality should even be in quotes, considering the resolution of the display on this beast. It’s a fighter aircraft title, showing off incredible controls and stunning (absolutely stunning) graphics.

Epic Games sent over Mike Capps as well to demo Infinity Blade: Dungeons, their all new title that looks, as you might expect, phenomenal. Lighting and shading is incredible, and they’re using HDR graphics to pull the best colours out of the screen. Amazing technology and it’s great to see a commitment to mobile devices that are not designed solely for gaming from a company as massive as Epic Games.

All iPad versions of iWork are getting free updates to include the higher resolution graphics, and will remain at $9.99 going forward.

GarageBand has also been updated with some new features like iCloud support for sharing music and jamming out with your friends wirelessly. It is also a free update from the App Store and will be available today for existing iPad owners.

iMovie is the next of the portable iApps to get the new iPad treatment, with some new features not unlike GarageBand’s update: storyboards and new editing chops will become a part of this mobile movie-studio. The cuts you can make on the new iPad really do look fabulous, and it’s incredible to see this quality stuff on a portable device. It’s certainly going to make our reporting from E3 2012 much easier!

A new addition to the app stable is the third desktop-quality application, developed for the new iPad as well as iPad 2: iPhoto. This will not replace the existing photos app but will be for photo editing and making adjustments on the go. Seriously, this is all going to make E3 2012 easier!

So the run-down on iPhoto for iPad: new gestures, new effects, multi-touch editing, and beaming photos directly between devices. Does this mean that you can edit a photo on a new iPad and beam the edited photo to another iPad without iPhoto? Or better, an iPhone or iPod touch?

Bezel gestures! This is like notification centre: when you swipe in from the top of your screen on iPad, it brings up your notification centre panel. iPhoto also has bezel gestures, whereby you pull in from the left to change your view from the shelf to a thumbnail view. Expect to see much more of this as we go forward.

As Randy Ubillos demos the app on stage, you can see that it looks absolutely fully-featured with controls crammed in there. Not crammed in with a bad connotation, but they seem to fit well, if you will. It will also support up to 19 megapixel photos, which should be enough for everyone except the most discriminating Hasselblad users.

Tons of brush palettes, red-eye correction, saturation and lighting adjustments, as well as some awesome stuff like one-tap horizon fixing and cropping. A really neat feature is white balancing by tapping on someone’s skin to show the app what the colour is supposed to be like, and iPhoto adjusting the rest of the photo accordingly.

Wow! iPhoto for iPad is just $4.99 and will be available today. It looks incredible, and it’s going to be an instant download for us here at the ‘plante.

The same dock connector remains on the iPad, and there is no SD card slot, which would have really made this magical for a device like the new iPhoto. I’m sure we’ll see it on the next version, however. It would have been nice to have the dock connector replaced with an SD slot and all syncing to happen wirelessly, but that would leave the issue of power on the table. Induction charging would be so Apple to include, but alas it looks like we’ll be waiting for the next iPad for that!

Engadget makes a good point about the name. If it’s going to be called the new iPad, the next iPhone will almost surely be called the new iPhone. Which would be awesome. Let’s get back to reality here, folks. Forget this number and number-with-an-S nonsense!

My thoughts on a dual-iPad existence was actually correct, with the iPad 2 staying in the market at $399 for a 16GB WiFi model. The price seems a bit steep to me – had they been at $299, they’d put themselves at the same price point as the PlayStation Vita and, of course, budget competing tablet makers. Either way, this will shake up that budget industry a fair bit.

So this also means that iPad 2 will be the older model than “the new iPad”. Weird.

The last slide of the event is of “2012: There’s a lot to look forward to”. Hinting at awesome new tech? An iPhone Air? Apple TV, but actually a television this time? MacBook Pro Air? All conjecture, of course, but you know how it goes with the folks from Cupertino.

So that’s all! We’ll have a rundown of everything in a future post, as well as our review, and of course a comparison of what we guessed and how close we actually were to what Apple actually blessed us with today!

Tim Cook took somewhat of a backseat at today’s presentation, only briefly discussing some figures and then passing it over to Phil. Could be shyness, but I’d sooner think that it is actually a result of Tim being smart enough to know that he’s not the best for the job when it comes to big product announcements, and Phil can certainly do a better job. I wonder what it’s like for them to know that Steve isn’t in the room or watching intently from somewhere, though.