March 2, 2011 at 11:27 AM ET
Steve Jobs hit the stage today at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco to launch the iPad 2. Jobs says it's a whole new design, with a dual-core 2X faster CPU, 9X faster graphics. Same low power as A4, with same 10-hour battery life. There are two cameras, front and rear as speculated. But it's 33 percent thinner: 8.8mm thick. It ships March 11 — for the same prices, starting at $499. International roll-out is March 25.
"This thing's going to be everywhere in the month of March," says Jobs.
"It's thinner than an iPhone 4," says Jobs. And lighter too, at 1.3 lbs. There's now a built-in gyroscope along with the accelerometer.
As rumored, it will come in two colors. Black and white, which will ship "from Day 1," says Jobs.
The iPad 2 will support Verizon and AT&T networks from Day 1, too. However, they won't be 4G speeds — LTE or even HSPA+ compatible — according to the press release, which only confirms "HSUPA support for enhanced 3G upload speeds on iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G on AT&T." "Phonescooper" Eric Zeman reports on Twitter that, for Verizon, it's EVDO rev. A (which is what we suspected).
Related story:iPad 2 hands-on: Slimmer, faster and lighter
There will not be a major new iPad OS release, or any new tweaking of the home screen or notifications, apparently. Instead, the iPad 2 will ship with iOS 4.3, which has been out in beta. This includes amped-up Safari browser performance, iTunes home sharing, improvements to AirPlay, and a preference option for the switch on the side for muting or rotation lock.
There are also a few camera-friendly apps, including FaceTime, the video-conferencing utility that is now on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac. There's also Photo Booth, which has zany effects (Picasso distortion, "Predator" view, etc.), like the version that's been on the Mac for ages.
They're finally bringing iLife to the iPad, too. First up is the $4.99 iMovie, with video editing, multitrack audio recording, themes and HD video sharing.
The other iLife app coming to iPad is the $4.99 GarageBand. Given the amount of awesome app development for iPad that has happened in the pro music biz, this actually seems obvious, now that I think about it. It's a cool app with dynamic (that is, touch-sensitive) multi-touch instruments — it measures the intensity of your taps via the accelerometer. There are also guitar amps and effects, 8-track recording, a library of loops, and you can export via AAC, right from the iPad. Also, it's compatible with the Mac version.
"This is no toy," says Jobs. I think it would actually be a good thing to take to live gigs (as long as you have iPad screen insurance).
Accessories include $39 HDMI adapter that provides mirrored video output up to 1080p. It works with all apps. "Anything you see on iPad screen, you see on the TV." You can even charge your iPad while you're using it, because it has a pass-through 30-pin connector.
Apple created something called a Smart Cover, because the old case covered up the beautiful design, and added thickness and weight. So the new "case," designed "right along side the product," is really a cover. It folds the same way the other case does, to hold in typing position and movie-watching position. It connects with magnets, and automatically wakes iPad when you open it, and it automatically puts it to sleep when you close it. They come in polyurethane ($39) or leather ($69).
When Jobs took the stage, before sharing the iPad news, he had a lot to say about the weak competition to the first iPad, which sold "nearly 15 million" last year. He also pointed out that that's more than all the tablet PCs sold up until then. Jobs also announced that they had just crossed the 100 million-iPhone line.
"Is 2011 going to be the year of the copycats?" asks Jobs.
Before the show began, the audience enjoyed the best of the Beatles, and watching VIPs mill about. In the shot below, the eagle-eyed will spot acting CEO Tim Cook, design head Jon Ive, Pixar wizard John Lasseter, and Walter Isaacson, the celebrated biographer of Einstein and Franklin who is allegedly writing the book of Jobs. Jobs himself has not been spotted.
And here's the crowd. See if you can spot our friends Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal and Ed Baig from USA Today.
Here's the venue where the whole thing went down, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Related story: iPad 2 hands-on: Slimmer, faster and lighter
More stories on the iPad 2, and what to expect today: