Today is the day that Apple fans have been craving for the past few months, and depending on what is released… perhaps years.
The event began with the man himself, Steve Jobs, giving a few updates regarding the state of the company as we speak. 50 million visitors to the 284 Apple stores worldwide last quarter. 140,000 iPhone/iPod Touch applications in the App Store and over $15 billion in revenues in 2010 alone. So what was announced?
Only the much rumoured Apple iPad Tablet device!
The Apple iPad
It’s finally here, after years of anticipation, rumour and excitement. The Apple iPad tablet is officially announced. Today! Clearly based on the iPhone OS, they say and I quote “it’s better than a laptop, and a smartphone, at browsing, mail, videos, music, photo, eBooks”.
In terms of how it looks, well. Imagine this, an iPhone… ZOOMED. Features the usual button centred at the bottom of the device and has a 9.7” screen and a super slick design, again much like the iPhone. Unfortunately, still no flash support for online media but there is HD YouTube playback. A sizeable popup on-screen QWERTY keyboard means that no doubt this will be a delight to type on.
There is obviously the usual Safari and Mail apps which look quite impressive. Other applications include Photo, which for mac owners looks extremely similar to the iPhoto display. Within the Photo app, there is a places feature, in which you can attach photos to places where you have perhaps been on holiday etc.
There is also an impressive maps app in itself which includes Google Street View. Looks great on the display I must say. The iTunes store is built where you can preview and buy songs and other media. Plus it has something extremely similar to the usual iTunes interface from which you can tab to music, TV, movies etc. Looks all pretty neat and easy to use. Lastly, in terms of applications, there is a new-look calendar. It seems this is intended to be the ideal mobile entertainment and collaboration device.
In terms of other features, there is 16Gb to 64Gb of internal flash storage, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 802.11n. The usual accelerometer doubles up as a compass. A built-in speaker and microphone which will be useful I’m sure. Battery life, 10 hours of HD video playback no problem. However, the most astonishing thing? Over a month of standby time!
In terms of iPhone style applications, it can run all the current 140,000 applications in the small, or full screen. The small screen option is useful for text-based apps as they apparently look a bit silly when they are blown up to the full screen, all a bit overwhelming. Facebook apps run perfectly, gaming apps are better suited to the iPad than the iPhone no doubt. Games look pretty good I must say, decent graphics and performance.
Of course, the iPad wouldn’t be complete without being a competent e-reader. And developers working with newspapers, publishers etc. have been working hard to create special apps for the iPad that differ a little from the iPhone apps which have been extremely popular. This example, the New York Times, has created a fantastic looking app which is set out just like a real newspaper. Drop down menus which are an essential part of the iPad’s functionality, are used here to navigate between articles. Superb.
Now, iBooks. Something that is really the defining feature which sets this apart from the iPhone. Several of the worlds largest publishers have chipped in for this and the results are fantastic. The UI is magnificent with all your books and artwork placed upon a virtual shelf. You can buy the books from the store for around £12 ($15) and once you load the book you will be delighted. A truly authentic experience something which I’ve been looking for in e-readers for a while now. You flip through the pages slowly or quickly and the display is nice. You can even change the font.
Another defining feature is iWork. Something that didn’t even come close to being available on an iPhone app. However, the interface differs entirely from the desktop version. Presentations, Spreadsheets and Documents, or Keynote, Numbers and Pages as Apple like to call them. It’s easy to use and looks great as always. Templates, presets and again, drop down menus to add in photo libraries etc. Fantastic. It’s more than an iPhone app, it is what I would call proper software of incredible substance. I Love it and this could be perhaps one of the main reasons why I would consider purchasing an iPad.
In terms of pricing, the Apple iPad tablet device ranges from $499 to $699 which is fairly modest, to say the least. However if you want to add in, what my opinion is an essential addition, 3G connectivity, it will cost you an extra $129 for each model. There is also a model between which starts at $599. I would imagine that when coming to the UK, this will equate to about £450, £550, £650 plus £100 for 3G.
My verdict: I must say this is a little underwhelming. Of course, it looks great, performance looks nifty and it’s graphically of high quality. But it doesn’t seem to have the wow factor which most new Apple devices have when first announced. Whilst sat here I feel as though I’m excited for the sake of being excited. Just because everybody else is. Not because this is a fantastic, revolutionary device. On the other hand, the iPhone is a fantastic device, extremely impressive and this only improves on that whilst keeping it’s best features. Therefore it gets a definite thumbs up and I will most likely be buying one.