04 March 2011
Apple yesterday announced the iPad 2, an enhanced version of its iPad tablet computer. This is of particular interest to me because I'm now writing a book about the iPad, called iPad for the Older and Wiser. I'll add more details to this site in due course, but you can already pre-order iPad for the Older and Wiser at Amazon.
So what's new with the iPad 2? Firstly, there are two cameras. One is on the same side as the screen, so it can film you while you're using the iPad. This is useful for video calling, something for which the iPad is a natural fit. The other camera faces away from the device, so that you can take pictures using it, and see what you're photographing on the iPad's screen. That will be a helpful addition, although probably not as useful as it is on the iPhone because the iPad is a bit big to hold up in the air as you try to frame the perfect picture. Perhaps we'll see specialist iPad tripods emerge though, which will make it easier to use this camera, especially for shooting HD video.
Apple's proud that the new iPad is thinner. While it is remarkable how much computing power they've squeezed into a device that thin, I don't think this really matters to most people. The original iPad was remarkably thin, and there comes a point at which it doesn't really matter how much thinner it gets. We probably don't want the iPad to get too thin, anyway, otherwise it'll start to feel insubstantial and fragile.
The new iPad can also process faster than what we will now start calling iPad 1. It has a multicore chip, which means its processor can do two things at once. That doesn't necessarily mean it will do, though. Depending on the apps you use, they might need to be rewritten (by their creators) to take advantage of the extra processing capability. Combined with the reported improvement in graphics speed on iPad 2, we might start to see richer and more immersive games as a result of this. We should also expect to see operations like search, bulk calculations (if you use it for work) and PDF processing speed up over time as the apps we use catch up with the technology.
Although Apple has often had a gap of several months between a press announcement and its product release, the iPad 2 will be in the shops in the US next week and is scheduled to follow in the UK shortly afterwards. The iPad 1 will continue to be sold, and its price has been reduced. This seems like a smart move: the iPad 1 remains a great device, and will satisfy many people who don't want to pay the extra for the video cameras.
The iPad 2, though, opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. The video filming could work well, if a tripod becomes available, and the video conferencing will, I'm sure be a hit. The Nintendo DSi never really made the most of its built-in cameras, but with Apple's open ecosystem of thousands of developers, I'm sure we'll see some innovative and fun apps taking full advantage of them before too long.
What do you think about the iPad and iPad 2? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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