Apple unveiled the iPad 2 today. As a host of new tablet devices are making their way into the market, Apple needed to make a significant jump ahead in performance and functionality. Key upgrades include a 33 percent thinner design that makes the new tablet 15 percent lighter while keeping the same screen size. Customers can choose between black or white versions.
The device ships with Apple’s dual-core A5 processor and the company’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 4.3. CPU speed is reportedly 2 times faster and graphics are rendered up to 9 times faster.
According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the company has sold more than 15 million iPads so far, and the iPad 2 has taken on more interactive characteristics. The device has front and rear cameras, allowing traditional camera functionality along with the ability to use Apple’s video chat feature, FaceTime.
iMovie and GarageBand apps, at $4.99 each, launched along with the new tablet, which allow users more media recording and editing capabilities-pushing the device into a content creation realm, not just a passive reading/watching experience. In a press event held today, Jobs pointed out that there are now more than 350,000 apps available with more than 65,000 that are native to the iPad.
Wired’s Gadget Lab blog reports that Jobs said developers have earned more than $2 billion from app sales and Apple generated $9.5 billion in iPad revenue.
Apple also designed a Smart Cover for the tablet ($39 for polyurethane or $69 for leather), which attaches with a self-aligning magnetic hinge and folds back to form a pedestal to prop up the iPad.
iPad 2 models are available with AT&T or Verizon networks. Pricing is similar to the previous version: $499 for the 16GB wi-fi model, $599 for the 32GB, and $699 for the 64GB. Add the 3G and pricing jumps to $629, $729 and $829. The Verizon wi-fi/3G model will be available only in the U.S.
The iPad 2 is scheduled to ship March 11. Apple simultaneously announced that Random House is making its full catalog of 17,000 ebooks available in the iBookstore, which, says the company, now offers content from 2,500 publishers.