We’ve been waiting, preparing and speculating about this product for – quite literally – years. Shrouded in secrecy, it’s been the main focus of the Internet rumour mill for far too long. Today, Apple finally unveiled the product they’ve been working on – The Apple iPad.
In this article, we’ll be outlining several of the most important and impressive features of the device, and getting you fully up-to-speed (complete with some gorgeous pictures!). Are you as excited as we are? Read on for all the details!
The Physical Hardware
The iPad itself has a 9.5 inch screen (height), and looks similar to an oversized iPod. The screen has a 1024-by-768-pixel resolution – perfect for browsing the web and reading eBooks. It comes bundled with either a 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive, and this determines the difference in price. It only weighs 1.5 pounds, or 1.6 for the model with 3G.
Though many people are calling it simply a large iPhone, this really isn’t the case. The larger screen size has been put to good use in applications across the board – particularly in Mail, which would seem to be far more user friendly than the iPhone version. The large software keyboard appears easy to type on, and is almost the size of a standard laptop keyboard.
Other hardware features include an accelerometer, digital compass, built-in speakers, an ambient light sensor, and a microphone. As you’d expect, it’s very environmentally friendly.
The Operating System
This was the main undecided factor surrounding the iPad, and one that remained a mystery until its unveiling today. It isn’t running OS X as we know it, and resembles the iPhone OS we’ve come to know and love. This means that all applications will be distributed through the App Store, in the same way as the iPhone. Good or bad news for developers, depending upon how you look at it.
It’s capable of running almost every iPhone application currently available – either in a scaled down mode, or resized to fit the full screen resolution. Hopefully this will mean than an app purchased for one device will also work on the other.
Connectivity & Syncing
The iPad has a standard iPod dock connector, so you’ll be able to connect it to sync with iTunes as normal. Two different versions are available with wireless connectivity – one solely with Wi-Fi, and another with the addition of 3G. The model with 3G is slightly more expensive, does not require a contract, is unlocked for any micro-sim, and will be shipping 30 days later than the Wi-Fi only model.
Data plan pricing for the USA has been announced as $14.99 for up to 250mb per month (a seemingly awful deal, aimed at those just reading books), or $29.99 for unlimited data. These are with AT&T, though you’ll be able to use any data package from any carrier. The iPad also contains Bluetooth, which will let you connect to wireless headphones, or a wireless Apple keyboard.
The iPad also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a VGA adapter will allow you to connect it to an external display.
Battery Life & Charging
Battery life is quoted as 10 hours, though this is likely a “best case” scenario. It will vary dramatically depending upon what you’re using the device for – playing games will obviously drain it faster than reading an eBook.
If you don’t use the iPad at all, it will last for one month in standby mode.
One of the major new features introduced today was the iBook Store, and the associated iBooks application. This is Apple’s eBook reader software, and it looks excellent (with several design cues taken from Delicious Library:
The accompanying book store will allow you to purchase and download eBooks directly onto the device. It’s creating a direct competitor to the Kindle, and adds welcome competition to the market. The app has numerous options to change the font and layout of your book.
Apple also announced a completely redesigned version of iWork, created specifically for the iPad. It’s capable of viewing, creating and editing documents created in Numbers, Keynote and Pages. Everything is done through drag-and-drop multi-touch, setting a new standard for what can be achieved with a touch interface.
These apps are priced at $9.99 each, and will be available through the App Store.
It does everything you’d expect. Mobile browsing with Safari, gorgeous multi-column email in Mail, Maps, iTunes music and video, Photos, a stunning interface to YouTube, Maps, Notes, a completely redesigned Calendar, and Spotlight search across the whole device.
Apple have a great video that I’d recommend watching to gain an overview of how the device works, and what the interface of each app looks like. You can also read an in-depth look at each feature on the iPad Features page.
A number of different accessories are available, most notably a keyboard dock, and a case. The former is a dock for charging your iPad, integrated with a full-size keyboard. This will make typing on the device a far more enjoyable experience – particularly important considering the iWork suite is available for the iPad.
The case also looks interesting, protecting the iPad and holding it in a position that’s more appealing for typing.
Pricing & Availability
The iPad has come in at an unexpectedly low price, starting at only $499. This price increases if you’re looking for more storage, or would like 3G connectivity:
The iPad with Wi-Fi only will be shipping in around 60 days, with an additional 30 day wait if you’d like the 3G version. This is fairly reasonable, and hopefully Apple will be able to meet these shipping dates (and the associated demand!)
As with any product announcement, we’re bound to feel hard done by in a few areas. These would seem to be:
- No camera or video conferencing
- No multi-tasking
- No super-cool fingerprint security (I can hope, can’t I?!)
What Do You Think?
We’ve waited a long time for this gadget, and it’s certainly going to gather a huge amount of press and media attention in the run-up to it’s launch. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one and trying it out, but what do you think?
Is your Apple gadget lust satisfied, or are you left wishing that the iPad had turned out to be something else entirely? Most importantly, will you be handing over your hard-earned $499?
Please share your thoughts!