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Apple unveils iPad, updated iOS apps

Mar 7 11:13

Apple unveils new iPad

Apple on Wednesday unveiled a new iPad, the third edition of its wildly successful multitouch tablet. The new tablet sports a Retina display, a vastly improved camera, the new A5X processor, the high-speed mobile broadband technology LTE, and voice dictation support. Rather than give the iPad a new name like iPad 3 or iPad HD, Apple appears to be calling the new iPad simply “iPad” or the third-generation iPad.

Apple CEO Tim Cook declared that there is only one company that could best the iPad 2’s big screen and “superfast A5 chip,” and that company is Apple. Cook said that the iPad “redefines the category that Apple created with the original iPad,” before bringing out Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, to introduce the new iPad.

Retina display

Although the iPad’s display measures the same 9.7-inches (diagonal) as the first two iPads, it doubles the number of pixels in play; that means the screen now contains a whopping 2048-by-1536 pixels—264 pixels per inch—for a total of over 3.1 million pixels, which Schiller called “the most ever in a mobile device.”

Apple coined the term Retina display when it unveiled the iPhone 4. It describes a screen with pixel density so high that, at normal viewing distances, the average human eye can’t discern the individual pixels.

A5X and quad-core graphics processor

The iPhone 4S and the iPad 2 both leverage Apple’s custom-designed A5 system-on-a-chip. The iPad is instead powered by the new A5X chip. The new iPad also offers four times the performance of the Tegra 3 processor that powers many Android tablets, Schiller said, thanks to its new quad-core graphics processor.

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New cameras

The iPad now sports a 5-megapixel iSight camera with a 5-element lens, IR filter, and in-plane switching built into the iPad’s new chip. Schiller said the new iSight camera has automatic exposure and auto-focus, and now records HD video at 1080p resolution. Like the iPhone 4S’s camera, the iPad’s camera features automatic face detection, automatic exposure lock, and automatic focus lock. Also thanks to the new A5X chip, Schiller said, you also get image stabilization.

Apple historically doesn’t discuss details like the amount of RAM built into its iOS devices. The iPad 2 offers 512MB of RAM, doubling the original iPad’s 256MB. It’s not yet clear whether the iPad doubles the memory size again.

Voice Dictation

New to the iPad is a microphone button on the virtual keyboard, one that looks just like the corresponding icon on the iPhone 4S’s keyboard. You can use that microphone for dictation anywhere the keyboard appears.

That’s obviously short of full Siri integration.

4G LTE

LTE is a high-speed wireless broadband technology—which is as much as ten times faster as 3G Internet access. Like its predecessors, the iPad will come in both Wi-Fi-only and in mobile-broadband equipped models; the iPad will be the first iPad to offer support for high-speed LTE networks.

In fact, the iPad will support HSPA+ with a maximum downlink of 21 Mbps, dual-carrier HSDPA with a maximum of 42 Mbps, and LTE with a maximum of 73 Mbps download. Schiller described the performance of the upgraded broadband technology as “amazing.”

The new iPad will work with Verizon, Rogers, Bell, Telus, and AT&T for LTE support, Schiller said. All LTE iPads will offer 3G support. The iPad can also now serve as a personal hotspot, if your carrier supports it. Because of different technologies at play, there will be different iPads for Verizon and AT&T’s networks.

As before, iPads with cellular broadband cost $130 more than the Wi-Fi-only models.

Other details

Schiller said that the iPad still offers 10 hours of battery life, and nine hours on LTE. It’s 9.4mm thin, and weighs 1.4 pounds. The iPad will be available in 16, 32, and 64GB capacities, just like its predecessors; the pricing remains the same—$499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB. The models with LTE and 3G support cost $130 more.

Pre-orders for the new iPad start Wednesday, Schiller said, with the iPad available starting March 16 in the US, Canada, France, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, and others. A week later, the iPad will be available in 25 more countries.

Schiller also said that Apple is offering updated versions of its iWork suite for the Retina display, a new version of iMovie with support for movie trailers, an update for GarageBand that adds the ability for four iOS device users to jam together, and a new app: iPhoto for iOS.

The iPad 2

Schiller said that Apple will continue to offer the iPad 2 in a 16GB model for $399, with a Wi-Fi + 3G model available for $529.

Updated 2:23 p.m. ET to add details about cheaper iPad 2, clarify processor details, and specify that the new iPad is named simply iPad.

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Mar 7 10:58

New iPad will sport Retina display, one million pixels more than HDTV

Announced Wednesday, Apple’s new iPad impresses in many ways. But perhaps most impressive of all: the device’s new Retina display.

“For the first time, an iPad has a higher resolution than even the display behind me,” said Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller, who was brought on stage to introduce the device. As rumored, the iPad’s display sports a 2048 by 1536 pixel display—over three million pixels, a million more pixels than a 1080p HDTV—with 264 pixels packed within each inch of the device’s 9.7-inch display. The display also features 44 percent better color saturation than the previous model.

Apple first introduced the concept of a “Retina display” in the iPhone 4, which packed 326 pixels per inch into its 3.5-inch display. Rather than refer to a specific level of pixel density, the term defines how the average person sees a screen—at a certain distance away, the human eye can no longer distinguish the individual pixels on a device.

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Mar 7 11:33

iPhoto for iOS arrives on the App Store

Apple’s mobile suite of iLife apps is now complete. On Wednesday, the company rolled out iPhoto for iOS, which joins mobile versions of GarageBand and iMovie in the App Store.

The $5 app arrives on the App Store Wednesday. While Apple executives demonstrated the mobile image editor to show off the improved display on the latest iPad, iPhoto is a universal iOS app—like GarageBand and iMovie, it will run on the iPhone as well as Apple’s tablet.

During Wednesday’s press event, Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller pitched iPhoto as the next step after the Camera and Photos apps that come included with the iPad. While those offerings let you capture and view photos, respectively, the mobile version of iPhoto offers more browsing and editing capabilities.

Gesture-based controls

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Mar 7 11:55

Apple updates iMovie, GarageBand, iWork for iOS

An Apple event wouldn’t be much fun without some software updates, and the company had them in spades on Wednesday: Apple showed off new features for GarageBand, iMovie, and the iWork productivity suite, all of which complement the newly announced iPad.

GarageBand received several new features, including Smart Strings (your own automatic string orchestra), a Note Editor for fine-tuning your recordings, support for iCloud song syncing, and expanded sharing options (SoundCloud). Additionally, users can now jam wirelessly with their iOS-using friends using Jam Session. Connect up to four iOS devices over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and play; Jam Session will synchronize the tempo, key, and chords automatically.

iMovie for iOS now sports Movie Trailers, a new feature carried over from iMovie ’11 on the Mac. Users can choose from nine templates (including genres like Fairy Tale, Superhero, and Romance), fill out a quick intro, and arrange clips within a storyboard. You can also sample soundtracks created especially for the app by Academy Award-winning composers (Hans Zimmer is highlighted in Apple’s own press release) and played by the London Symphony Orchestra. Films can be saved in 1080p and streamed via AirPlay to an Apple TV or shared to YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook.

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Mar 8 04:30

Tim Cook outlines vision of post-PC world

Apple usually lets its products do the talking. But to kick off Wednesday’s iPad launch event, Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage to outline his company’s vision for what he calls the post-PC world and where Apple’s tablet fits into that world.

You can watch Apple’s event in its entirety via streaming video. But we’ve transcribed some of Cook’s comments on Apple’s strategy and excerpted them below, so that you can see how the newly unveiled iPad fits into the overall vision outlined by Apple’s top executive.

When we’re talking about the post-PC world, we’re talking about a world where the PC is no longer the center of your digital world, but rather just the device. We’re talking about a world where your new device, the devices you use the most, need to be more portable, more personal, and dramatically easier to use than any PC has ever been.

At Apple, we have three blockbuster post-PC products. The iPod reinvented the music player and changed the way people listened to music and played games. The iPhone reinvented the phone and changed all of our expectations of what a phone could be and how easy and fun it should be. The iPad—the revolutionary device that defined a whole new category. In many ways, the iPad is reinventing portable computing and is outstripping the wildest of predictions.

Apple’s strengths

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Mar 8 03:15

Behind the scenes with iMovie trailers

Along with Apple’s iPad announcement on Wednesday, the company released updates for pretty much every major iOS app in its wheelhouse. Now, this isn’t all that surprising, given that most of Apple’s apps needed a graphics update to take advantage of the iPad’s Retina display. But hidden amongst the tweaks and pixel perfections, some apps also received new features—including iMovie.

In a world…

iMovie may not have the flashiest updates of the bunch, but it does gain a neat new feature from iMovie ’11 on the Mac: movie trailers. Now, when creating a new project, you can choose to instead create a trailer with one of nine different templates: Retro, Romance, Scary, Superhero, Swashbuckler, Narrative, Fairy Tale, Expedition, or Bollywood. You can swipe through and preview these for a better idea of what the trailer formats are like—be prepared for child spies and adventuring backpackers.

Each template prescribes a running time and a number of actors needed to properly fill out the story, though creative types can surely work around this. (I hear sock puppets and green tennis balls make great stand-ins.)

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Mar 8 06:30

Apple's new A5X chip may be for iPad only, analysts say

Apple delivered a performance breakthrough Wednesday with its new A5X processor for the iPad, but it’s possible that this chip won’t make its way into the next iPhone, analysts say.

The chips used in the first two iPads, the A4 and A5, both made their way into a new iPhone soon after. But the A5X, with its heavy focus on graphics, may not be ideal for smartphone use, and Apple may wait for a more power-efficient chip built with a new manufacturing process.

The A5X has two CPU cores, just like the A5, and it was the superior graphics performance of the A5X that Apple played up at its launch event for the new iPad in San Francisco. The new chip has four graphics cores, which should boost multimedia performance and allow for smooth operation of the iPad’s higher-resolution, 2048-by-1536-pixel display.

Apple may have purpose-built the A5X specifically for the new iPad’s improved screen, said Linley Gwennap, founder and principal analyst of The Linley Group, who emphasized he was still sorting through the information about the new chip Wednesday.

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Mar 8 09:35

Does Apple still need to set a cellular data limit for over-the-air downloads?

In the days leading up to Apple’s Wednesday iPad announcement, developers were just a little bit nervous over the rumored Retina display. Crisp graphics should normally be something to celebrate, but, as pointed out by The Next Web, Apple’s 20MB over-the-air cellular download limit would suffocate universal apps needing to incorporate Retina-quality graphics.

On Wednesday, Apple quietly raised this limit to 50MB, giving developers added wiggle room for such maneuvers. But even so, these limits put app-makers in a tight spot. While few are likely to choose 3G or LTE over W-Fi when installing an iPad app, the same is not true for iPhone users, who often grab programs on the go.

Universal apps, which bundle graphics assets for both the iPhone and iPad into a single package, will be hardest hit. Last week, The Next Web’s Matthew Panzarino spoke with the developer of Consume, a stat tracker app, who reported that adding Retina graphics would balloon his app to almost twice its size, from 18.3MB to 35MB. If we assume other apps follow a similar scale, that would put a Twitter program like Tweetbot up around 32MB; most games I own would be lucky to come under 100MB.

The 50MB limit is more reasonable than 20MB, for sure. But at this point, it seems odd that Apple still caps data in this way. It made sense to set an initial 10MB cap when the App Store first launched in 2008: Everyone on AT&T had unlimited data plans, and the cellular service’s 3G network was still relatively new with large gaps in coverage areas. Apple waited a year and a half before expanding the cap to 20MB in February of 2010; by then, users had run up against limits not only when it came to getting apps, but when wanting to download to a podcast or a music video from the iTunes Store. The move may also have been in part a preemptive Retina graphics strike, as the iPhone 4 was released later that year.

Even 50MB is too low a limit for downloading some iOS apps over a cellular connection.

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Mar 8 02:00

iPad hotspot feature will be available on Verizon, not AT&T

Consumers trying to decide between Verizon and AT&T on their new 4G-enabled iPad have an additional consideration to take into account: Only one of those companies will be offering Apple’s Personal Hotspot feature at launch. That capability allows users to share the fast 4G connection on their iPads with other devices, such as a laptop or smartphone, via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB.

As first reported by The Verge, the Verizon iPad will offer the Personal Hotspot feature that Apple touted at its iPad unveiling this week, while AT&T will not.

“We are working with Apple to enable this feature in the future, but we currently do not offer it,” AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told Macworld via email.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The Personal Hotspot feature first appeared in the U.S. when Apple announced the Verizon iPhone 4 in January of last year, though the capability had existed in iOS since 2009. Though AT&T was Apple’s original partner for the iPhone, the carrier didn’t enable tethering for its iPhone customers until March 2011.

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Mar 17 09:00

Which accessories work with the new iPad?

If you're in the market for a new iPad, there's a good chance you'll want a protective case or some other new accessories. But whether this is your first iPad, or you're upgrading from an older model, you're probably wondering whether existing accessories—those originally designed for the iPad 2—work with the new model. Perhaps you're planning to purchase some gear in a local store or online, or maybe you've already got a few add-ons you'd like to reuse.

We spent much of Friday testing the new iPad with accessories originally made for the iPad 2, and for the most part, the news is good—the new model works with many existing iPad add-ons. But not all. Here's the scoop.

A-OK

As we discussed last week, the new iPad is exactly the same height and width as the iPad 2, but ever so slightly—0.03 inches, to be exact—thicker. The lens for the new iPad's improved camera is also a fraction of an inch bigger. But the second- and third-generation iPads are otherwise physically identical—all the buttons, switches, jacks, and ports are even in the same locations. The two models are also electrically and mechanically identical insofar as accessories are concerned.

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