March 7, 2012 at 11:37 AM ET
Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage in San Francisco Wednesday to announce a new iPad. In fact, he just called it simply "the new iPad." It will have a quad-core chip, "retina" high-resolution display, a 5-megapixel camera and 4G LTE networking for fast connection on Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
The product will have the same pricing as the previous generation, starting at $499. It will be in stores on March 16, but pre-orders start today.
Apple will keep the iPad 2 in the picture: There will be a 16GB iPad 2 for $399, and a 3G version of that for $629. There are no longer any 32GB or 64GB versions of the iPad 2.
The new iPad's display has 2048 x 1536 pixels. That's over 3.1 million pixels, "the most ever on a mobile devices," says Phil Schiller, worldwide marketing boss.
The new iPad will have an A5X chip, which is a quad-core processor. It delivers twice the performance of the iPad 2.
The camera on the new iPad has a 5-megapixel center, optics with an IR filter, and some nice controls to maximize picture taking. As you may expect from the camera and the screen, you can shoot 1080p video at 30 fps with this baby.
There's voice-to-text for emails and other text-input windows, but it doesn't look like there's full-blown Siri here, which seems odd. The voice is some guy's voice, not the sultry Siri we've come to know (in the U.S.).
All of these features will be crammed into a device that's almost just as slender and light as its predecessors. (The new iPad is .37 inches thick and weighs 1.44 pounds.)
Cook called the iPad the "poster child of the post-PC era," and says that for most users, it's the preferred device for email, Web browsing, e-reading and gaming, activities previously done by a range of competing products.
Product demos for the new iPad show game previews from Namco and Epic games, and a Sketchbook update from Autodesk. (Not much to say now, but when we have video of the demos, we'll share.)
There's a whole new iWork and iLife out, a free update to people who already have. The new GarageBand has a Jam Session feature for simultaneous play by musicians with their own iPads.
Best of all, iPhoto finally came to the iPad, with all kinds of finger-friendly features. The controls really are cool, and you can beam photos from device to device. Crazier still, the iPhoto stuff will work on iPhone too. It will cost $4.99, and you can get it today. (More on the new iPhoto here.)
Before Cook got to the meat of the event, he covered the success in Apple's retail operations worldwide, and is now discussing Siri's global success. He announced that Siri would be available in Japan (and yes, in Japanese) immediately. He says iOS 5.1 is here, but hasn't given other details on the update.
The first big announcement was the new Apple TV, which supports 1080p video and has an all-new user interface. Eddie Cue, head of Internet services, hit the stage to demo it. It's available next week and will still cost $99. More on the new Apple TV here.
I'm here in San Francisco, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, to cover the launch of Apple's latest iPad. The media has filed in, and executives such as Phil Schiller (SVP of worldwide marketing), Scott Forstall (SVP of iOS) and Jon Ive (head of design) are chit-chatting in the front row.
We'll soon find out whether it's called iPad HD or iPad 3, whether it has 4G LTE speed or plain old 3G, whether its chip has four cores or two and whether it will have laser beams strong enough to penetrate starship hulls, but precise enough to perform LASIK surgery.
OK, that last bit may not be revealed (not today, anyhow), but I'll keep updating this story, so you can keep refreshing for more. If you want the up-to-the-minute news bites, follow me on Twitter at @wjrothman.