Yes, Apple finally unveiled their latest tablet on Wednesday, and no, it’s not called the iPad 3 or the iPad HD. It’s actually just called “The new iPad”, but we’ll get to that. The device itself was less-than-surprising after most of the specs leaked in the months and weeks leading up to the event. The new iPad packs a Retina display that features a 2048 x 1536 resolution – that’s higher than a 1080p HD TV. Like the iPhone 4 and 4S, I’m sure it looks stunning (I haven’t gotten to see a new iPad myself yet). And to be honest, though I don’t even use my iPad 2 that often, the allure of a 9.7” Retina display is extremely hard to resist.
The new iPad also comes equipped with a dual-core A5X processor (as we reported and confirmed a few weeks ago), and a quad-core GPU (that’s graphics). Epic Games and Namco both showed off new iOS games – Infinity Blade: Dungeons and Sky Gambler’s Air Supremacy respectively – that look beautiful, almost console quality on the iPad’s Retina display. The new iPad also features an improved 5 megapixel rear iSight camera (yes, Apple has brought back the iSight branding for use in marketing the rear shooters on their devices) though, sadly, no improvement to the front-facing camera. FaceTime HD has not hit the iPad yet. And who could forget: the new iPad is Apple’s first mobile device to support 4G LTE on AT&T, Verizon, Bell, Telus, and Rogers. A promising sign for the next iPhone.
Though the physical design of the device remains the same as its predecessor, the new iPad looks to be a phenomenal device. I have no doubt that it will continue to be the best selling tablet (or is that only selling tablet?) in the marketplace. Personally, I love it. As I mentioned before, I’m drooling at the thought of a 9.7” Retina display, and the improved iSight camera is certainly welcome, but it’s not enough to warrant an upgrade from me. I installed iPhoto and changed my wallpaper to match the new iPad – that’s good enough for me. I was a little disappointed that there was no surprise feature of the device, as all of these details were leaked weeks before the press conference. Though I love knowing every detail of what Apple is working on next, I miss some of the mystery that used to surround the company’s new product launches. They manage to keep brand new products secret (the original iPad didn’t leak much before launch, nor did the original iPhone), but it seems new iterations have a harder time staying under wraps (the new iPad and iPhone 4 being prime examples).
Now, about that name. I don’t like it. Many expected the tablet to be called the iPad 3, following up from the iPad 2. Wrong. Apple simply referred to the device as “The new iPad” throughout the event. Alright, so they’re not going with iPad 3 or iPad HD. Just iPad. Wrong again. The full, official name is actually “The new iPad”. Take a look at the Apple Online Store. It is listed as “The new iPad” under the “New to the Store” section, and on the product’s order page. So why the silly long name? I suppose it is fitting: when someone sees you using an iPad, what do they ask? “Ooh, is that the new iPad?” And in this case, yes, it actually is “The new iPad”. And if Apple decided to abandon the numerical naming scheme for the iPad, they had to call this new model something, right? They chose to keep the iPad 2 on the market, so calling the new iPad just “iPad” would make it look like the older model next to the iPad 2. So I guess they chose to name it literally after what it is. The new iPad.
As for the event itself, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tim Cook seemed more comfortable on stage on Wednesday than he did back in October at the iPhone 4S launch. Granted, I’m sure emotions were running wild back then as top level management undoubtedly knew of Steve’s impending passing. Still, it was nice to see Tim a bit more relaxed and lively on stage. Yes, his southern drawl can seem quite dry and boring at times, but he has improved nonetheless. Phil Schiller impressed as well, though he has always been a good speaker. He took the reins at Macworld 2009 when Steve was on medical leave, and also launched the iPhone 3GS a few months later at WWDC. Tim will almost certainly continue to share the stage with Phil at major product events in the future, and the two proved on Wednesday that they can handle a product launch very well.
To conclude, I would like to touch on Tim’s final remarks at the closing of Wednesday’s event. In a somewhat uncharacteristic move for Apple, Tim gave the world a little teaser for the rest of the year, stating:
“Only Apple could deliver this kind of innovation in such a beautiful, integrated way. It’s what we love to do. It’s what we stand for. Across the year, you’re going to see a lot more of this kind of innovation. We are just getting started.”
Any Apple fan should be excited by this statement. Rumors of an Apple iTV, new Air-like MacBook Pros, and of course a new iPhone, are already swirling. Whether or not these are the products that Tim was referring to – and whether or not any of these products are actually real – is anyone’s guess. Personally, I’m skeptical about this iTV thing. I have no doubt that Apple could reinvent television, I just don’t know if they can right now. The cable networks are unwilling to innovate, and that’s not a hurdle Apple can jump over without cooperation from both sides. As for the rest, I expect a huge MacBook Pro revamp this year, and in fact I’ve been waiting for these new notebooks so that I can upgrade. And, of course, there’s the iPhone 5; a device many of us expected to see last year that never materialized. Will it look like that teardrop design we kept seeing all throughout 2011? I hope so, but things may have changed.
Regardless, 2012 should be a great year to be an Apple fan. And it is just getting started.