The standout feature of the new iPad is its ultra-high definition Retina display. Apple managed to squeeze a 2048 x 1536 resolution screen into just 9.7 inches. The screen is by far the best display I have ever seen and nothing even comes close to matching it. If the previous iPad didn’t melt away as you were using it, the new iPad certainly will. Colors pop even more on the new display and even when closely examining the device, it is hard to distinguish the individual pixels. One challenge with this new display is capturing it on camera, it is really something you have to experience for yourself.
Greater resolution comes at the cost performance, so Apple put a new chip called the A5X chip in the new iPad. The A5X has a quad core graphics processor, and although Apple’s iPad devices have never been lacking in speed, Apple’s newest device is no exception. The A5X more than adequately compensates for any potential loss in performance due to the high resolution of the display. The potential for gaming on the new iPad has also gotten brighter now that games can play faster and better looking than ever.
The third generation iPad is also available in a WiFi + 4G version. Apple included support for HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and LTE. Unfortunately, the LTE is carrier specific, so you have to choose what carrier’s LTE network you will be using. Still, LTE is blazing fast and it is a very good addition to the new iPad.
A better screen, a faster processor, and LTE drain battery life like nobody’s business, so Apple increased the capacity of the new iPad’s battery by 70%. Interestingly, Apple managed to increase the capacity without increasing the physical size of the battery. All this means that the new iPad keeps the same battery life of its predecessor with one caveat, it takes about twice as long to charge. in practice, this hasn’t bothered me because the iPad already has such extremely good battery life, but it is still something you may want to keep in mind when charging the new iPad.
Apple also upgraded the rear camera on the new iPad, giving it the 5 MP sensor of the iPhone 4 and the optics of the iPhone 4S, making it relatively decent camera if you can brave looking like a fool while taking pictures with a device larger than your face. The new camera also shoots 1080p video, interestingly something the 5MP shooter on the iPhone 4 never could do. Sadly, Apple didn’t bother to give the front facing FaceTime camera an upgrade which is my one and only real disappointment with the new device.
Very little has changed on the software side of the new iPad. Although the new iPad is the first device to originally ship with iOS 5.1 the differences are minor, an updated Camera app for iPad, Photo Stream photo deletion, and battery life improvements are the standout features, but the third-gen iPad has one extra feature, Siri Dictation. While not Siri for iPad, the speech-to-text technology can now be used throughout the OS by tapping a button on the software keyboard similar to how iPhone 4S users are accustomed to do. This is a really great feature and it can make typing for long periods of time quicker and easier. While not perfectly accurate, it works well enough to be used often throughout the course of a day.
I took a few sample shots with the rear camera of the new iPad. I am not an
expert photographer, but some of the images seemed a little grainy to me, still this camera is a huge upgrade over the iPad 2’s rear camera.
One last thing about the new iPad is probably the most controversial part of the whole product, the name. Apple calls the third-gen iPad simply, “The new iPad.” Apple ditched the number after the “iPad” in favor of simplifying the name and making the naming scheme of the iPad consistent with that of iPods, Macs and Apple TV. The move gets rid of the unsustainable system of naming that Apple had going in previous devices. this is a positive change too much focus was placed on the naming of Apple’s latest device and in the case of the iPhone 4S, the fact that it wasn’t named “iPhone 5” hurt its reception by many who expected an “iPhone 5.” The new iPad is the largest update of the iPad since the original iPad itself. No matter what iPad you are using, it is worth at least considering an upgrade, especially of you do lots of reading on your device. If you haven’t gotten an iPad yet, there has never been a better time to buy an iPad.
Clearly, Apple is not improving on its desktop products as much as its mobile ones. Apple does this because it sees iOS devices as the future and rather than dumping its resources into the waste bin of the past (cough cough Windows and OS X) it puts its resources into the garden of the future. (iOS devices) In the future, expect more of the same. Expect Apple to vigorously iterate on its mobile software, and expect OS X and Windows software to suffer as a result of growing neglect. It may seem like a bad idea for Apple to do something like this, but when mobile devices overtake PCs, Apple’s iteration on mobile software will have paid off.
Like many of you, I unboxed an iPad this Christmas. After using the iPad for a few hours I picked up the box, fascinated by how tightly everything in the box fit together. As I set the box down, it noticed that on the bottom edge of the box was an iCloud logo, just opposite of the side on which the Apple logo rested. Everyone knows how sparsely Apple decorates their products, so why would they put an iCloud logo on the box? Only if it was extremely important. More important than iOS 5, the A5 processor, FaceTime, iMessage, iTunes, or the App Store. Apple didn’t put logos for any of those things on the box of the iPad, no, it put the iCloud logo and nothing else.
So, why is iCloud so important to Apple? Is it because it syncs everything? No. iCloud is so important because it not only syncs your content, but it provides the stepping stone to the continuous client experience that has become the pinnacle of usability. Continuous client, if you don’t know, is simply the ability to stop reading a book or watching a movie or playing a game or doing anything, and picking up where you left off on another device. This is something Apple has the unique ability to do better than anyone else because its devices are so popular and Apple’s famous “closed” ecosystem allow it to spread iCloud’s adoption faster than anyone else.
iCloud can help Apple make the transition to PC-free iOS devices. This is important because Apple is moving the world beyond PCs and iCloud is now the forerunner of this transition. This is only the first of many transitions that will be made in the future and iCloud can help people make these transitions easily and painlessly.
iCloud will gain more features in the future, and it also provides a stairway right up to cloud-based apps and even devices when the time is right. iCloud could make transitions to, say, HTML 5 based apps and devices seamless because rather than having to plug-in to iTunes and backup, then plugin your new device and sync for an hour, you can have not even left the Apple Store with you new phone and your apps can be downloading in your pocket from a cloud-based backup. This gives Apple the ability to drastically alter the architecture of iOS in the future and keep the transition experience for customers a good one.
This is why iCloud is so important to Apple, it is the new iTunes, the tool that they will use to make transitions buttery-smooth, and it provides the foundation for continuous-client experiences.
As if there is not already enough reviews and hands on about the iPad 2, I feel like I should put my two cents in.The iPad 2 is a great upgrade from the original iPad. With a thinner, lighter, and faster iPad Apple hopes to pin down the tablet market for a whole year again. Last year may have been the year of iPad, but this is not 2010. How can 2011 be the year of iPad 2?Although Apple has seriously beefed up the iPad 2 with cameras, a new processor, and smart covers, all while making it thinner and lighter. Only time will tell what the year holds with new tablets like the PlayBook and the TouchPad, but before judgment is passed on the iPad 2, I think we should wait and see what iOS 5 holds. The iPhone 4 could have been passed off as a small upgrade if it was not announced along with iOS 4. Apple usually builds its products with future enhancements in mind. So go and buy that iPad 2, enjoy FaceTime and a smart cover or three, and savor thoughts of iOS 5.Lastly, an iPad 3: Don’t hold your breath, iPad 2 is a big enough step forward to take on its own, if you don’t have an iPad yet now is the time to buy… or at least it will be on March 11.
(Image Credit: Apple)