Live blog: Apple’s iPad 2 event from San Francisco
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Technology reporter David Sarno was at the event and blogged it live. Here are the highlights from the iPad 2 rollout.
9:38 a.m.: All eyes of gadget lovers are on Apple on Wednesday morning as the tech giant is expected to unveil a new version of the iPad in San Francisco.
9:49 a.m.: The auditorium at the Yerba Buena center is filling up quickly. No hint of the nature of the event yet, except the giant Apple logo on the big screen. There are hundreds of people here, most of whom have laptops and at least one handheld device, sometimes two or three.
10:04 a.m.: Steve Jobs is here. He tells the audience, ‘We’ve been working on this product for a while and I just didn’t want to miss the day.’
10:05 a.m.: Jobs says users have downloaded over 100 million books in less than a year and that Random House is bringing their 17,000 books to the iBookStore. They have 2,500 publishers distributing through the iBooksStore.
10:06 a.m.: Jobs says Apple has 200 million credit cards on file, and Jobs believes this is the largest cache of credit cards and accounts anywhere on the Internet. Developers have earned over $2 billion for the App Store, Jobs says. That applies to the 350,000 or more apps that are available for the iPhone, iPad and iPad touch. Jobs also said Apple has shipped 100 million iPhones.
10:07 a.m.: Jobs says ‘2010 was the year of the iPad.’ He said they’ve sold 15 million iPads -- more than any tablet PC ever. He’s says the iPad generated $9.5 billion in revenue for Apple last year, the best start for any product Apple has ever launched. Jobs also gets a dig in at competitors, saying they are ‘flummoxed.’
10:16 a.m.: On retail stores, Jobs says, ‘Without these stores, I don’t think we would’ve been as successful last year.’
Now Apple’s showing a video about the iPad. They’re repeatedly saying its the one of the best things they’ve ever done, showing crowds waiting in line for the original, doctors using them in hospitals, kids
using them in schools, and in a variety of other settings. They’re definitely hitting the theme of the iPad’s success as hard as they can. Often at this point in shows, Apple is already showing the next generation of a device, rather than reviewing what happened in the past. Could this be a clue that the new version won’t be as explosive as some of their product launches are?
10:17 a.m.: From a few rows back, Jobs did not look more or less thin than he has at events over the last year or so. To the untrained eye, he looks more or less the same. His voice is resonant and his usual excitement is visible.
10:23 a.m.: The iPad 2 is a completely new design. It’s got the new A5 chip with a CPU that is twice as fast, and graphics that are up to nine times faster than the previous version. It also has front and rear cameras, as expected.
There’s a gyroscope in the device, like there is in the iPhone and the iPod touch.
‘Having built in all this stuff, one of the most startling things about the iPad 2 is that it is dramatically thinner.’ It’s 33% thinner, Jobs says. The audience applauds this.
‘The new iPad 2 is actually thinner than your iPhone 4,’ he says. ‘It feels totally different.’
10:25 a.m.: The iPad 2 will come in both black and white. ‘We’ll be shipping white from Day One,’ Jobs says -- a wink at the fact that the white iPhone 4 was announced in July but has still not shipped.
Cellular versions of the device will support both the AT&T and Verizon networks.
Jobs notes that ‘with all this extra stuff in it, and dramatically thinner,’ the iPad still has its 10-hour battery life. A lot of his competitors offer substantially less battery life, he says. ‘We’re really happy to keep that, and never let that go.’
10:28 a.m.: The price of the iPad 2 will be the same as all models, Jobs says: $499 for the entry-level Wi-Fi-only iPad 2, and $829 for the 64-gigabyte iPad 2 with a 3G cellular connection (plus a monthly fee).
It’ll ship on March 11 in the U.S. On March 26 it’ll ship to 26 more countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, and France.
10:32 a.m.: The iPad 2 will have the option for a $39 cable that delivers HDMI mirrored video output, so anyone can plug it into a large video screen or high-definition television. People like this because you can use the iPad to give presentations on larger screens; you just plug and play.
There’s also something called ‘smart covers.’ They went to a lot of trouble to make ‘a beautiful design’ and covered it up with this case, and also added thickness and weight, and made it tougher to use accessories.
This time they’ve designed the case alongside the product -- it’s more of a cover that fits over the screen, but doesn’t wrap up the whole device. A little like a window shade. The cover also doubles as a stand to prop up the device. It’s attached to the iPad with magnets that ‘grasp and auto-align’ the cover with the screen.
10:33 a.m.: Cases are $39 for polyurethane and $69 for leather.
Now, with the new AirPlay version, more apps and even websites will be able to stream video and music to the Apple TV from the iPad.
There’s also going to be a personal hot spot -- so you can share the iPhone 4’s 3G Internet connection with any other devices that need WiFi. That’s a big change for Apple and AT&T, which haven’t allowed the iPhone to be used as a WiFi connector. For one thing, it can mean a lot more data traffic on AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks.
10:42 a.m.: Scott Forstall is showing off the Photo Booth app on the iPad. It’s pretty much the same as the Mac Photo Booth program. ‘You can see that Photo Booth is incredibly fun on the iPad 2.’
Now comes FaceTime -- the video chat feature Apple created for the iPhone 4 last year. You can make video calls between iPhones, iPads and Macs with the Facetime program.
Again, there are not terribly many brand-new features on the iPad 2 so far. Mostly what we’re seeing are incremental improvements and additions of features Apple previously invented for other devices. This is all to bring the iPad up to date. Other tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, have had cameras and video chat for quite a while.
10:45 a.m.: Steve Jobs is back on stage. There are going to be two new apps introduced Wednesday, except that the first one is, again, an existing app ported over to iPad: It’s iMovie. That’s Apple’s movie editing program that they created for the Mac and later added to the iPhone 4.
Randy Ubillos, Apple’s chief architect of video applications, takes the stage to give a demo.
10:48 a.m.: The iMovie app looks like a pretty cool editing app. You can grab all your video clips, audio tracks and photos, and load them into a movie you’re editing -- all with your fingers. It sort of makes the old kind of mouse-based digital movie editing look archaic, and at the same time brings editing back to a tactile experience, much like cutting and taping actual film or tape, like in the good old days. Randy Ubillos is doing all this with one hand -- he’s holding the iPad 2 with the other. With two hands it seems like you could do things even more quickly.
10:53 a.m.: iMovie will cost $4.99 in the App Store.
10:56 a.m.: Now they’re showing off the other new app (ahem -- not new, per se): Garage Band for the iPad.
The well-loved Mac music composition program does, however, take on a whole new dimension when it becomes touch-based and you can actually play the piano and other virtual instruments on the screen. The accelerometer, they’re saying, can tell if the user strikes the virtual keys hard or soft, and the sound will mirror that.
You can switch the keyboard to other looks and sounds -- like a class organ with draw bars that affect the tone. It sounds pretty amazing to have loud organ music issuing from this little touchable screen. Are real instruments in trouble?
10:59 a.m.: They’ve got ‘smart instruments’ designed for nonmusicians. For instance, an acoustic guitar that has preselected chords -- so you can pick a chord like a C and just strum the virtual strings -- the notes all come out in nice melodic sounds because it’s as though you’re holding the fretboard correctly for the chord, even for people who don’t know what a fretboard is.
11:08 a.m.: Steve Jobs is back on stage. In truth, his voice is a little weaker than in the past, almost muffled. And there’s not as much of a spring in his step. But he’s giving the long presentation from memory, with verve and humor, like he always does.
It seems like he’s wrapping up the presentation now, after about an hour has passed. They’re showing a video of the iPad 2. It will probably just review most of what they’ve already told us. Already there are the typical adjectives Apple uses to describe itself: ‘Amazing,’ ‘incredible,’ ‘blockbuster,’ ‘breakthroughs.’ Apple spares no superlative for its own products.
11:18 a.m.: Steve Jobs is wrapping it up. He has one last speech.
‘It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,’ he says. ‘It’s the marriage of technology of the liberal arts that makes our hearts sing.
‘A lot of folks in this tablet market are rushing in and looking at this as the next PC,’ he says. Hardware and sofrware are designed by different companies, and the makers are focusing on speed and hardware specs.
‘Our experience in every bone in our body says that that’s not the right approach,’ he says. ‘These are post-PC devices that need to be easier and more intuitive than a PC, and the software, hardware and applications need to intertwine in an even more seamless way than on a PC. We think we’re on track with this.’
Jobs ends with a slightly more emotional note than usual. He asks all the people that worked on the iPad 2 to stand up for a round of applause.
‘As always, I’d also like to thank everyone’s families: They support us and let us do what we love to do.’
That’s the show, folks. Thanks for tuning in.
-- David Sarno
Photos, from top: Steve Jobs speaking at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; The profile of the new, white Apple iPad 2; Musical features of the new iPad2.