I spent much of the day yesterday mulling over all of Apple’s announcements regarding the new iPad. What struck me most of all, was how closely the rumor mill pegged this announcement. So how good was the reporting surrounding the new iPad in the weeks leading up to it’s introduction? Let’s take a look.
Just as predicted, the new iPad sports a incredibly dense 2048×1536 pixel display. This works out to 264ppi, which according to Apple, at a viewing distance of 15 inches or less, makes pixels indiscernible to the human eye. Okay, the rumor mill got one right on the nose. What’s next?
How about a new processor? The new “A6″, which was rumored to be quad-core never made an appearance. Instead, what we received was the rumored dual-core A5X. Seemingly splitting the difference between the two rumors, the A5X does not have quad-core processors, as had been reported with the mythical “A6″ chip, but instead has “quad-core graphics”, to better power the new Retina display. So, it seems that the rumor mill, and I, were half right and half wrong regarding the new processor. In one sense, I was totally wrong. Let’s call it a draw.
As for RAM, so far there is no word on how much Apple has packed in the new device, but as rumors suggested, I would wager that Apple bumped it from 512MB to 1GB to better assist the new graphics.
The device’s cameras were the next item of speculation ahead of the introduction. Many rumors claimed that Apple would be building in improved cameras on both the front and the rear of the device. Little was mentioned at the announcement regarding the front-side camera– it appears to be the same as the iPad 2’s. Reports had predicted that Apple would be building in an 8 Megapixel camera on the rear of the device. The new iPad does have an improved camera, but 8MP it is not. No, we’ll have to settle with 5MP in this year’s model. Nonetheless, the camera can shoot 1080p HD video, and has built-in stabilization. Not bad.
The last major bit of speculation regarding hardware, came in the form of next-generation 4G LTE networking. Only until just prior to the new iPad’s introduction was it all-but-confirmed that the device would have 4G LTE networking. In the months leading up to the announcement it was much less certain. Besides, Apple’s inclusion of the network technology raises an important question. Will the next iPhone have 4G LTE built in? I personally do not think the technology is small enough, or power-efficient enough for Apple to put it in an iPhone yet, but the company has already set up expectations to the contrary by building it into the new iPad*. Time will tell I suppose.
There was an abnormal amount of confusion regarding the design of the new iPad. Some claimed it would be thinner, others claimed it would be thicker, but ultimately no one knew what it would look like until days prior to the introduction. I vehemently, and incorrectly, argued that the new iPad would not be thicker– I was wrong. However, the device turned out to be less than a millimeter thicker, which would be unnoticeable by most. Also, to my surprise, the new iPad is ever so slightly heavier than the iPad 2. Again, only by a minuscule amount – .1LBS
What we got, was an iPad that is ever-so-slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2, with more gradually tapered edges than the design it replaced.
Other Odds and Ends
Just as I had suggested, Apple echoed their iPhone marketing model, and moved the iPad 2 down to an entry-level position and lowered it’s price to $399. Apple claims they made this move to aggressively push the iPad in the education market. Fair enough.
All other half-baked rumors surrounding the new iPad’s pricing and storage capacities fell through yesterday. Apple maintained the same 16/32/64GB storage capacities at the same $499/$599/$699 price points as the previous two generations of the device.
Also, I predicted that Smart Covers were here to stay for awhile. Unsurprisingly, it seems that nothing has changed regarding Smart Covers. Last year’s covers will work just fine with this year’s iPad, and is in fact, what Apple is still selling today alongside the new iPad. This made perfect sense to me, especially considering how big a deal Apple made them at last year’s iPad event. Late-breaking reports about a clunky, Smart Cover-esque case coming from Apple look particularly foolish now.
Of course, the flimsy reports of an 8 (or 7.85)-inch iPad fell apart yesterday as well. I do not think the time is right for Apple to roll out a new-sized iPad. The market is still gobbling up this current-sized iPad, and developers would have to retool** all of their iPad apps to work with the new, smaller screen in addition to the 9.7-inch screen we all know and love. Perhaps with time, but that time is not now.
Siri did not make a large appearance at yesterday’s announcements as I had hoped. The new iPad will not have the voice-controlled assistant built in. Seemingly splitting the difference between rumors once again, Apple did build in speech-to-text instead*. The system-wide keyboard now sports a new “microphone” key, which, when pressed, invokes an iPhone 4S-like dictation feature. You speak, and it writes. That is, sadly, the extent of Siri-like features for this version of iOS on the new iPad. I still hold out hope that Apple will build Siri in at a later date. I love that lady.
It seems that the Apple community was largely prepared for yesterday’s announcements. Nothing ultra-surprising was announced, but all of it was welcomed nonetheless. The biggest selling point for this new iPad is the new Retina display- reporters with initial hands-on experience with the device are already raving about it.
Naturally, with this nicer screen, came a requirement for more graphics horsepower. The new iPad has that as well, along with new, faster, 4G LTE networking and a better backside, “iSight” camera. Not too bad for the same $499 starting price.
Now It’s Your Turn
What do you think about yesterday’s iPad announcements? Surprised? Disappointed? Will you be buying one? We can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!
*I plan to write more on this subject in the coming days.
**Arguably, developers will have to retool their apps for this new Retina display anyway. I still think it’s a matter of timing, as much as anything else, before we see the iPad in a variety of sizes.