The new iPad, which ships on March 16, will come equipped with a faster processor, high-resolution retina display, better camera and support for 4G LTE wireless networks.After months of rumor and speculation, Apple officially unveiled the third iteration of its wildly successful tablet device in San Francisco today.
The launch of the new device comes at a time when Apple already controls about 60% of the tablet market. Just over a month ago, the company reported an enormously successful quarter, in which it made over $64 billion in revenue, fueled largely by iPhones and iPads. Apple has yet to face a tangible threat from other tablet manufacturers, but that isn't stopping it from taking one more aggressive step ahead of the competition.
Apple sold more iPads in the last quarter than any other PC manufacturer sold across their entire product lines, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who took to the stage this morning eager to frame the launch in the broader context of the "post-PC" era.
The Biggest Improvement: Retina Display
One feature most Apple watchers expected the new iPad to have is the high resolution retina display found on the iPhone 4 and 4S. Those devices pack an incredibly high resolution onto a tiny screen, and the impact is even greater on a tablet screen. The iPad's display will have a resolution of 2048 x 1536, with 3.1 million pixels on the screen. As Cook pointed out, that's 1 million more pixels than a typical HDTV set.
The enhanced display is long overdue for the iPad, which is frequently used for watching videos and playing rich, interactive games. At today's launch event, the company demoed a number of new apps designed to take advantage of the new display, such as a brand new version of the game Infinity Blade and a substantial update to Apple's iWork suite for iPad.
To make the most of the new visual capabilities of the device, Apple upgraded the processor to the A5X chip, which supports quad-core graphics.
A Modest, But Significant Iteration Overall
Aside from the new display, this update to the iPad product line is a largely modest iteration. Most of the new features were the type of thing you'd expect: a faster processor, a camera that shoots better photos and HD video and a handful of new apps.
What today's event didn't include was a redesigned form factor, the launch of a smaller, often-rumored iPad or the inclusion of Siri on the device. The new iPad will support voice dictation, which is presumably based on some of the same technology as Siri, but anybody who was hoping to run voice searches and create calendar items using only their voice is going to have to wait.
The device didn't even get its own name, as Apple has apparently retired the numerical naming convention of its tablet devices in favor of calling this the "new iPad," a move some people found a tad confusing.
Should You Upgrade?
Budget-conscious owners of the iPad 2 will probably have a hard time justifying the upgrade, but for those who have been carrying around a first generation iPad, this new device will be hard to resist. The jump there is a bit more dramatic: the screen would be an improvement for any current iPad owner and the processor is now two iterations ahead of the iPad 1, which didn't even have a camera and is heavier and thicker than the newer tablets.
Overall, in terms of iterative jumps in Apple's product line, the new iPad is to the iPad 2 as the iPhone 4S was to the iPhone 4. It's not a hugely dramatic update, but still a significant one with several new features. Apple's position in the market is such that they didn't need to aggressively overhaul the entire product to stay ahead. Still, even the short list of new features they unveiled today will set most of their competitors in the tablet space back even further.