Well, it’s officially over. Whew! The thing Apple has been working on for almost 10 years has finally been shown the light, and it’s called the iPad. I followed the whole thing from Gizmodo’s live blog of the event, so thanks for the pictures! I have to say right off the bat, that I’m mildly disappointed with what Apple has cooked up. Now, once I lay my hands on one it might be a different story (just like the iPhone…) but this thing is essentially a large, beefed up, iPod Touch. No magical new user interface, no support for using more than one app at a time, and no curing cancer! Sounds like I hate the thing right? Well….no, I don’t. I just wasn’t very impressed. Apple wanted this to be a device that fits between their computer line and their iPhone/iPod Touch lines. To me the iPad isn’t that device. It’s a suped-up iPod Touch that will be easier to use for things like editing documents and reading. Maybe in a few months when apps start appearing for it, it could be a different story. A decent version of Photoshop could be a killer app on the iPad. So we’ll see.
I see this as a step forward for personal computing, just not the “walking on the moon step” that the hype had led up to. I see the iPad murdering the Kindle and any other eReaders out there due to the iPad being able to do so much more for not that big of an price increase. Oh, yeah…the price. Starts at $499 for a 16Gb version. 32GB will run you $599 and 64GB comes in at $699. Add an extra $130 if you want unlocked 3G connectivity, and Apple has worked out a special data deal with AT&T for monthly rates. Jobs says it will be shipping in 60 days (90 if you need the 3G version). Hit the jump for the rest of my impressions and more pics of what they showed off. Again, thanks to Gizmodo for their live blog coverage and pics!
Gizmodo’s coverage of the iPad here.
The iPad was pretty much the only thing covered in the 90 minute presentation. Jobs gave a few of the normal “look how awesome my company is doing” stats and then jumped straight into the iPad announcement. Here are those details:
I hit on this a little earlier, but here are all the details. The price is the best thing about the device in my opinion. It will murder the Kindle thanks to the additional things you can do with it (as opposed to just reading books). There will be a total of 6 devices you can purchase. 3 with Wi-Fi only connections, 3 with both Wi-Fi and 3G. The price points are $499/$599/$699 for 16GB/32GB/64GB respectively. Add $130 to any of those prices to get the 3G version. How about data rates? Well Apple worked into a special arrangement with AT&T for this, although the iPad is actually unlocked with a GSM Micro-SIM card. On AT&T $15/month will get you 250MB of data, or $30 will get you an unlimited plan. Truly shocking however is the fact that this requires no contract. It’s prepaid, so buy it if you need it.
The iPad clocks in with a 9.7″ screen, it’s 1/2″ thick, and weighs 1.5 pounds. So it’s got a little heft to it, but is still extremely portable. Apple has finally developed their own chip! It’s a 1Ghz Apple A4 all-in-one and can handle HD video with no problems. 16-64GB of flash storage is onboard, along with 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 30 pin standard Apple connector, speaker, microphone, compass, and accelerometer. Oh, a rather large surprise was the claimed battery life. 10 HOURS of video playback. 1 MONTH of standby time. Apple’s been hitting close to their claims as of late with their products, so this is somewhat impressive and probably a pay off for developing their own processors.
Well, this was a little disappointing to me. Apple clearly expects you to type on the iPad like you would a normal laptop/pc. No split keyboard. It’s essentially the same thing as the iPhone, just larger. It’s almost as large as a full size keyboard, but I can’t see it being nearly as efficient as typing on your lap will be somewhat awkward while keeping it balanced with no hands. On a table it could be ok…I love the iPhone’s keyboard and it’s responsiveness, so I could see myself flying on a full size version. Of course full multi-touch is there, and it looks like what you’re used to seeing with the iPhone. But again on a much larger scale.
It’s primarily an up-scaled version of the iPhone OS with hints of OS X in it. The home screen uses app icons identical to the iPhone and App Store, but also features an OS X like “shiny” dock at the bottom of the screen. The background is customizable as well, so say goodbye to the boring black plaguing current iPhones and Touches. All of the Apple apps have been retouched to work on the larger screen size, and thus look and function a lot better than on the iPhone. The email app has different features available whether in portrait or landscape modes, and everything looks very polished. Showing off the new Safari browser, websites have never looked better on a mobile device. One HUGE sticking point…Flash. There were no mentions of whether the iPad supports Flash. That’s still the big problem with the iPhone. Too many sites use Flash (unfortunately) and until HTML5 becomes the standard, surfing the web means working together with Flash. The music player is even more close to being a full fledged iTunes. Anyone who’s used an Apple device in the last 10 years will be right at home.
Don’t fret about the library of apps you have purchased for your iPhone. The iPad will run them just fine. You have the option to run them at their native resolution, or to use a magnification feature that doubles the pixels to full screen. Apps that have been developed for the iPad look glorious. They’re in HD and the games they demoed had no frame rate issues. So again, nice chip by Apple. Apple showed off the NYT app, which showcases what a newspaper can look like (very fancy, interactive pictures, video, etc), Need for Speed looked fantastic as well (not as good as on a full fledged pc or console, but WAY better than the iPhone), and what I thought was the coolest app shown, MLB.com. They showed what the live game stat page looks like, and then demoed watching a live game broadcast-even getting the choice of home or away announcers (very similar to their MLB.com TV package) all with fancy graphical overlays that can be pulled up at any time. Apple also showed off a newly designed iWork suite for the iPad. These apps will be $9.99 each and seem to be the best showcase of what new apps will be capable of in the future. Full multi-touch for Pages, Numbers, and the most showed off, Keynote. Keynote seems especially nice to use on the iPad-being able to drag around a presentation’s slides and manipulate them by hand looks like it just works.
Can we say Kindle killer? Well, I will. The iPad supports the widely used ePub standard for books (Amazon is still on their own proprietary format) and it nearly looks like e-ink when a book is pulled up. It’s also kinda cool that you can see a slight outline of the book, thus giving the illusion of really turning pages instead of it just being a screen. A whole host of publishers have signed up for the iBooks including; Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Hachette, and I’m sure more to follow. And while looking like a e-ink screen, it still can pull up full color photos, links, and videos, if the publisher has added them to the book. I’m thinking that the surface hasn’t even been scratched with regards to what eBooks will be like in the near future.
Apple had two things to show off as accessories to the iPad, a dock and a leather case/stand. What’s notable about the dock is that it includes a physical keyboard. A very odd choice right out of the box for Apple. To me, that says that they’re not super comfortable with ordinary users liking, and using, the on-screen keyboard. The case/stand looks very nice and is what I would assume most purchasers will buy on day one.