Since the first iPad was introduced in January 2010, Apple fans and tech junkies have speculated about the second generation of Apple's tablet. Scores of rumors were at last put to rest in California today, when Apple unveiled the iPad 2. As predicted, it's faster and lighter than its predecessor, and has two cameras. It goes on sale March 11, with the same price tag as the first iPad. What else came out of the big announcement? Here are five key talking points:
1. Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance
Since the Apple CEO went on medical leave in early January, intense speculation about Jobs's health has loomed over the company. When he showed up today, the crowd greeted him with a standing ovation. "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," said David Sarno at the Los Angeles Times. "But he's giving the long presentation from memory, with verve and humor, like he always does."
2. The new iPad has really slimmed down
"The most dramatic change... is to the iPad's weight and size," says Brian Caulfield at Forbes. It weighs just 1.3 pounds, compared to the original 1.5, and it's thinner than an iPhone. Jobs put it more lyrically: "If you pick this thing up, it almost floats."
3. And it fits into a new, smart, magnetic case
Not only did Apple introduce the iPad 2 today, they also introduced a new case for it — "a [bigger] improvement over the original case than the iPad 2 is over the original iPad," says Steve Kovach at Business Insider. The intriguing new case costs $39, comes in a variety of colors, uses magnets to attach to the iPad 2, wakes up the device when you open it, and doubles as a stand.
4. You can edit video with iMovie
Two new apps for the iPad — tablet versions of iMovie and Garage Band — were also announced. The iMovie app, which allows users to edit video and sound on their iPad, "just might be the start of something special," says Scott Stein at CNET. This could mean more high-quality apps akin to the "iLife" software that comes standard with Apple computers. The music composition app Garage Band is also quite cool, says Sarno. "It sounds pretty amazing to have loud organ music issuing from this little touchable screen. "
5. But really, the iPad 2 isn't so different from the original
It's really just an "incremental upgrade," says Larry Dignan at ZDNet. The improvements are "more than enough to put the rivals to rest," but the iPad 2 isn't earth-shattering, nor does it have the new display or USB port some had hoped for. The "iPad 2 may be more 1.5 to some folks," and there's already speculation about a groundbreaking iPad 3 coming out late this year. Even so, the competition is "mega screwed."