News from Cupertino, California this morning has Apple fans in a tizzy: the "magical and revolutionary" (yes, that's really how Apple describes it) iPad now has a confirmed launch date. According to an Apple press release, the iPad will be available in the U.S. on Saturday, April 3rd in Wi-Fi only models and later that month in 3G. Also by month-end, all editions of the iPad will become available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. Pre-orders will start March 12th on www.apple.com.
Although we know that many people are already confirmed buyers, there are a lot of fence-sitters out there still wondering why they need an iPad when they already have an iPhone (or iPod Touch, or netbook, or laptop, etc.). If that's you, we've come up with a list of confirmed iPad apps that may convince you otherwise.
1) The New York Times
iPad announcement in January. Their native application lets you save stories, watch video, zoom in and out on photos and virtually "flip" through the paper without dirtying up your fingers with newsprint. The news stories are updated whenever the device has an internet connection.No surprise here. The NY Times was actually one of the applications demonstrated during the
2) The Wall St. Journal
We haven't seen it in action yet, but News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch has apparently been telling people that there's an iPad under lock-and-key in the WSJ's building. "We've been allowed to work on one," he told members of the Real Estate Board of New York during a luncheon this past week. We imagine its features will be very much on par with those in the NY Times app, as described above.
3) Need for Speed Shift (Game)
The iPad represents a whole new gaming platform. It's a handheld device like the iPhone, but one with a much larger screen. That means video games will look great - more like games you play on your TV via game consoles like the Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii. Electronic Arts is one of the first to develop for the iPad and their "Need for Speed Shift" racing game, also demoed during Apple's announcement, has been redesigned from the iPhone version into one just for the iPad. They've scaled up the images to fit the larger screen and the results, from what we've seen so far, look great.
4) Penguin Books
Penguin CEO John Makinson spoke to a London audience this past week about his company's plans to build iPad-ready books. Instead of releasing text-only publications, Penguin books will be more like apps including embedded video, audio and streaming. "The .ePub format, which is the standard for ebooks at the present, is designed to support traditional narrative text," said Makinson, "but not this cool stuff that we're now talking about. So for the time being at least we'll be creating a lot of our content as applications, for sale on app stores and HTML, rather than in ebooks. The definition of the book itself is up for grabs."
5) Condé Nast Magazines: Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Glamour
Enjoy magazines but hate how they clutter up your house? That will never be a problem again thanks to the iPad. According to the NY Times, the large publishing firm has big plans for their periodicals. GQ will have a tablet version of its April issue ready. Vanity Fair and Wired will follow with their June issues, and The New Yorker and Glamour will have issues in the summer. Already, the company's iPhone application for GQ that proves Condé Nast gets how to develop for new platforms. The GQ app is not a simple digitized magazine, but includes features that embrace the mobile web. For example, you can tap through on an ad to go to a company's website or tap a song in a music review to download it.
Wired, specifically, gave us all a look at their iPad app earlier this month and it's incredible. Although they actually called it their "tablet" app - Wired isn't limiting themselves to one platform - we know one of the first places we'll see it is Apple's new slate device.
6) Your Student Newspaper
In addition to the big names like the NY Times and WSJ, colleges will also begin to use the iPad for distributing their highly localized news. One college, Abilene Christian University, has already confirmed they've developed an app for their paper, "The Optimist." "We want to be up and running and there when they're ready for us," said Professor Kenneth Pybus. You can bet they won't be the last college to launch for iPad, either.
7) Disney iPad Apps
Walt Disney's Robert Iger recently informed investors that Disney will develop all sorts of iPad applications that will range from games to digital books and who knows what else? "We find that the iPad has a lot of potential. We think it's a really compelling device," he said. Iger also predicts that the iPad will be "a game-changer in terms of enabling us to create essentially new forms of content." We can't wait to see what the creatives at Disney come up with.
Also of note: Disney owns Marvel Comics and that has some speculating that comic book apps are on the list of soon-to-arrive Disney iPad apps.
8) iPhone Apps, Transformed
Although iPhone apps will work on the iPad without any updates required, developers who want to redesign their iPhone apps specifically for the iPad can do so.
For an example of how great these will look when they do this, check out 1Password. Already available as an iPhone app, this app helps you create strong passwords for web services and accounts, remembers them for you and stores them right in your browser. Their iPad app, shown off on their blog here, shows just how attractive - oh, we'll say it - just downright gorgeous - iPad apps will be.