After what seemed like an eternity of rumors and release date push backs, Apple has finally announced its revolutionary new tablet, the iPad. This 9.7-inch, one and a half pound device is intended to be the perfect bridge between a computer and mobile phone (ideally a Mac computer and an iPhone). With multi-touch capabilities, an LED-backlit screen and the 3G network of AT&T powering this device, it’s sure to turn heads in any market.
The iPad was officially announced on January 27th 2010 by Steve Jobs of Apple during a press conference held in California. In this conference Steve showcased many of the distinct features and programs compatible with the iPad. On the software side of things, the iPad can run virtually every application you already have on your iPod Touch or iPhone on its larger screen. In addition to this, there are also programs you can purchase made specifically for the iPad itself. For example, the iPad can be used as a mobile workstation with iWork, the Apple brand of Microsoft Office. One can write documents, edit papers, create labels, write outlines and so much more remotely from any location. Apple also introduced its new iBooks store, an online e-book store to compete with the likes of Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. One can purchase any book from a wide variety of genres that range from classic novels to new releases. In addition to the iBooks store, one feature Apple threw in with the 3G models is that not only can you buy books, but you can also subscribe to your favorite newspapers and magazines through the iPad itself. Whenever a new issue of a subscribed periodical is released, it’s automatically sent directly to your iPad and stored there for future reference. According to Allison Haislip from G4tv, “The iPad is anticipated to be the ‘Kindle Killer’.” Of course we’ll have to wait until it’s on the shelves to make that conclusion.
For those of you who don’t want to spend the extra money for iWork or a $30 per month 3G data plan, the iPad still has much to offer. Apple completely reworked their mail application, making it much easier to write, send and sort through emails. They also redesigned the calendar (also known as iCal), contacts and notes applications to be more user-friendly. Searching through your contacts is as easy as flipping through a page in a book or simply selecting your person from a table of contents type interface. Access to the iTunes store is available through an included application, and it appears on the iPad exactly as it would appear on your home computer. The fact that Apple hasn’t opened up the iPad to different gaming platforms could come as a blow to people anticipating this device as a new gaming tool. With that being said, application developers are working on new games that would work better with the iPad than any other device, so first person shooter and tower defense games such as Nova and Plants Vs Zombies can be enjoyed with ease.
On the technical side of things, Apple has stepped up its game in the mobile device market. With the introduction of its new A4 custom designed chip, the iPad is able to run flawlessly with its 1GHz processor. The iPad also comes fully equipped with an accelerometer, which senses how you hold the device (for games and layouts), a 25Whr lithium-ion battery, a dock connector, microphone, SIM card tray (for Wi-Fi+3G models), Bluetooth capabilities, built-in speakers, an SD card slot for importing pictures with ease, and much more. Pricing varies depending on what model you get. Models with Wi-Fi are $130 cheaper than the models with 3G and Wi-Fi. The 16GB model with Wi-Fi is only $499, making the 32GB $599 and the 64GB $699. For Wi-Fi and 3G models, the 16GB would be $629, 32GB $729, and the 64GB $829. For a device of this caliber, the fact that Apple chose so little hard disk space is a bit surprising. However, everything done on the iPad can easily be backed up onto a computer so there shouldn’t be a significant storage problem even with the smaller models.
As far as using the iPad as a media player goes, it’s not that much different than playing songs through an iPod touch. The iPad comes with built-in speakers, so any music stored in your iTunes library can easily be accessed and played through the device. For streaming music, applications such as Pandora and Heart Radio are compatible with the iPad and are free to download on the iTunes store. Despite the fact that Apple recently purchased the music streaming service LaLa, nothing new and innovative has been released for the iPad concerning this issue yet. Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling commented on this issue, “[Apple] buys smaller technology companies all the time, and we generally do not comment on our purpose or plans,”. According to the New York Times “If Apple introduces its own cloud-based streaming music service, it would let people skip having to download music they buy or synchronize their music collection between their computers and mobile devices.” This idea seems like it would be revolutionary if introduced to the iPad, however no public announcements have been made at this point in time.
The announcement of the iPad by Apple has stirred up critics and fans alike. It’s sleek design and user-friendly interface is an invitation to Apple’s “magical and innovative” world. The way the iPad integrates your work environment with your personal life through the use of iWork and iCal will prove to be extremely helpful in a business environment. With the addition of the iBooks store, Apple has expanded its market past music, videos and applications into the world of e-readers. Unfortunately, no significant expansions have been released as far as streaming music from the internet goes, but one can speculate we’ll be seeing that technology soon.
Overall, the iPad is an exciting new addition to the prestigious line of Apple products, but consumers will have to wait until late March to actually get their hands on one.
By Jamie Anderson