SLIDESHOW

The iPad event in pictures

The iPad led a parade of product announcements Wednesday, and we were on hand in San Francisco to capture it all.

Year of iPad 2

With all the improvements (while keeping prices the same) plus more than 65,000 iPad app, Apple thinks 2011 is going to be the year of the iPad 2.

Steve Jobs

Apple CEO Steve Jobs—on medical leave from the company—made an appearance at Wednesday’s Apple press event in San Francisco to introduce the iPad 2. “We’ve been working on this product a while, and I didn’t want to miss today,” Jobs told reporters. Walking on stage at the start of the event, Jobs received a standing ovation from those in attendance.

Post PC

Apple considers the iPad the third of its "post-PC" products, starting in 2001 with the iPod, and continuing In 2007 with the iPhone.

iPad 2

 

At a special event in San Francisco Wednesday, Apple unveiled the iPad 2, the follow-up to the original iPad it released last April. The iPad 2 features an all-new design along with new features including built-in cameras and a new gyroscope. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the presentation that Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads during a nine-month period in 2010. According to Apple, the iPad has more than a 90 percent share of the tablet market. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again,” said Jobs in a press release.

 

Tech specs

At the heart of the iPad 2 is a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor, which should provide a boost over the 1GHz single-core Apple A4 in the first iPad. Apple says the A5 is two times faster than the previous processor, and graphics performance is nine times faster. “The graphics on this thing are wonderful,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who made a surprise appearance at the Wednesday event despite being on medical leave. Overall, the iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, weighing 1.3 pounds and measuring 0.35 inches thick. The original iPad was 1.5 pounds (1.6 pounds for the 3G iPad) and 0.5 inches thick. The iPad 2 is actually thinner than the iPhone 4, which is 0.37 inches thick.

Thin to win

The original iPad wasn't that bulky, but Apple cut the depth by one third with the iPad 2.

Black or white

For the first time, Apple will be offering the iPad in your choice of black or white. And best of all, the white model will be available at the same time as the black (something Apple has yet to figure out for the iPhone 4).

Same ol' prices

Apple offers six models of the iPad 2. The pricing of the iPad 2 falls in line with the pricing of the iPad. There are three Wi-Fi only models: a $499 version with 16GB of flash storage; a $599 model with 32GB of flash storage; and a $699 model with 64GB of flash storage. Apple will also offer three 3G-equipped models: a $629 version with 16GB of flash storage; a $729 model with 323GB of flash storage; and a $829 model with 64GB of flash storage. According to Apple’s iPad 3G Website, the 3G-enabled iPad 2 is designed to run on either AT&T or Verizon, not both.

HDMI output

The Apple Digital AV Adapter will offer HDMI mirrored video output. That means that what you see on the iPad 2 (or iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch) screen—slides, movies, photos—can also be viewed on a large screen HDTV, video projection screen, or other HDMI-compatible display, in 1080p.

Smart Covers

The iPad Smart Cover, which is designed to work both as a typing stand and to facilitate the all-important watching of movies and other video, comes in two materials— polyurethane or leather. The trick is in the folds. The Smart Cover folds in various places so you can create a stand to hold the unit upright, or tilt the iPad into a typing position. The Smart Cover can also flip back and out of the way. If you want to shoot HD video, the Smart Cover can fold in half to expose the back-facing camera. Apple offers the iPad case in five colors. The polyurethane covers come in gray, pink, green, blue, and orange. The leather covers come in black, cream, red, dark gray, and off-white. The polyurethane model costs $39 and the leather offering sells for $69. They’ll be available for the iPad 2’s March 11 launch.

iOS 4.3

When it ships, the iPad 2 will run on Apple’s iOS 4.3 mobile operating system. Apple previewed the updated OS on Wednesday, showcasing improved Safari performance, wireless media streaming in the form of iTunes home sharing, AirPlay enhancements, a Personal Hotspot option for all iPhone 4 models, and personal settings options for the iPad’s side-switch.

Photo Booth

One new feature of the iPad 2 is the addition of Photo Booth, which Apple says iPad 2 provides nine live video streams at once, previewing all effects.

FaceTime

The iPad 2 features two built-in cameras, for use with FaceTime video chat and other apps. FaceTime can be used between two iPad 2s, between the iPad 2 and an iPhone or iPod touch, or between an iPad 2 and a Mac using FaceTime for Mac.

iMovie goes universal

Editing movies on the go won't be just for iPhone and iPod touch users anymore. On Wednesday, Apple announced a new, universal version of iMovie for iOS with full iPad support, which will hit the App Store in time for the camera-equipped iPad 2's March 11 release. At Wednesday's press event, Steve Jobs brought Randy Ubillos—the company’s chief architect for video applications—on stage to present the newly-renamed iMovie for iOS. In his introduction, Jobs noted “[the app] is not a toy; you can really edit a movie on this thing."

GarageBand for iPad

During Apple’s iPad 2 event on Wednesday, the company also announced and showed off the upcoming GarageBand for iPad app, a version of Apple’s music creation software that’s part of iLife. It will be available on March 11 for $5.

Technology junction

Jobs: "It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing."

Coming March 11

The iPad 2 will be released in the U.S. on March 11, but Apple isn't taking pre-orders, so the only way to get one that day is to wait in line at an Apple Store. On March 25, it will be shipping in 26 more countries, including almost all high volume countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K.