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Apple Event Announces iOS Apps, Updated Apple TV, and “The new iPad”

Well, another Apple Event has come and gone. As per usual at these events, things started out with the requisite Apple cheerleading…

  • iPad “reinvented” portable computing.
  • “Post PC” Devices making up 76% of Apple’s sales.
  • 25 billion apps downloaded from the App Store.
  • Apple stores all around the world – turnout is astronomical.

and so on. If you want to hear all that for yourself, you can view the whole presentation on Apple’s Events site.

Finally, though, Tim Cook and Company got down off the soapbox and started talking about the things we were looking for: new hardware and software.

New iOS

Cook started out by talking about Siri and how it’s easily his favorite feature. He then went on to mention that the service will now be available in Japan today – in iOS 5.1. Other announcements were made (we’ll get to those in a sec), and the only other mention was that the stock apps were updated to take advantage of the new hardware.

Updated AppleTV

Cook went on to talk about the App Store, then iCloud, and how iCloud now allows you to sync movies… 1080p movies, at that. But, at the moment, there was nothing of Apple’s that played back 1080p video… until they announced the new AppleTV.

Shape-wise, it’s still the same black square that they introduced last year. Inside, however, there have been a lot of improvements. Output is full 1080p and the interface is much more streamlined. You can get your iTunes playlists via iCloud, along with photos, and access to other apps. There’s even a feature that recommends moves based on others you’ve rented – not an entirely new concept, but a nice one to have. Current AppleTV 2 users should be able to get most of these features in an upcoming software update, but if you want 1080p, you’ll need the latest version.

The new AppleTV will run $99 and will be available next week.

The new iPad

Over the last few weeks, you couldn’t visit a tech site without some sort of speculation on what the features of the latest iteration of the iPad would be. Well… the waiting is over.

  • Retina Display – 2048 x 1536, to be exact. Yep… that’s more pixels than your standard HDTV, packed into the standard screen size of an iPad. That’s brings it to about 264ppi, and so they’re calling it a “retina display.”
  • A5X processor – This evolution from the A5 is a quad-core model, which manages to drive 4x the number of pixels as the iPad 2’s A5, yet manage to keep battery usage the same.
  • iSight Camera – This brings the camera into sync, spec-wise, with the iPhone 4s. The iPad’s camera can now shoot 5Mpx images and record video in full 1080p. Adding to the quality is a 5-element f/2.4 lens with built-in image stabilization.
  • Voice Dictation – Unfortunately, Siri did not make it to the iPad, but the same voice-recognition technology did. When typing in text, there’s now an microphone key. Push it and the Siri-style voice recognition types it in for you.
  • 4G LTE – With speeds up to 73 Mbps, this latest iPad can now run you up against your data cap faster than ever! Apple’s partnering with providers worldwide, but here in North America, the providers are AT&T, Verizon, Rogers, Bell, and Telus – apparently with a version of the iPad for each carrier’s spectrum type. World travelers take note: worldwide 3G service is now compatible worldwide, so you can remain connected wherever you are (as long as you can get a signal). There’s even an option to use it as a “personal hotspot,” provided your carrier supports it.
  • Many Things the Same – Despite all the upgraded hardware, battery life remains at about 10 hours, nine if you’re using a wireless data plan. The price points for the new models are the same as they were for the corresponding sizes for the iPad 2:
    – 16GB Wi-Fi – $499
    – 16GB Wi-Fi +4G – $629
    – 32GB Wi-Fi $599
    – 32GB Wi-Fi +4G $729
    – 64GB Wi-Fi $699
    – 64GB Wi-Fi +4G $829

They’re also keeping the 16GB iPad 2’s around and knocking a hundred bucks off – $399 and $529 for the Wi-Fi and the Wi-Fi+3G models, respectively.

Oh… and one other thing… note that we haven’t referenced Apple’s latest tablet as the “iPad 3.” Neither did Apple. Throughout the presentation – even in slides –  and on Apple’s Web site, it’s generally referred to “the new iPad.” It appears Cupertino is dropping the numeral at the end of the name of the iPad. It is yet uncertain whether they’ll do the same with the iPhone or other iDevices.

iOS App Updates

Along with updating the stock iOS apps to take advantage of the new iPad Retina Displays, Apple released updates to its iWork suite. More “splashy,” though, were the updates to the core “iLife” apps.

Garage Band got several new features, including “Smart Strings”, a note editor, iCloud functionality, and sharing via something called “Jam Session” which lets you collaborate with other Garage Band users via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

iMovie got the “trailer” function from the desktop version, the ability to import Garage Band tracks, and a few interface tweaks.

Both these are free updates if you own the previous versions or $4.99 a pop if you don’t.

Apple also added the “missing” iLife app to iOS – iPhoto. This app effectively brings all the editing and adjustment features of the desktop version onto your iOS device. Extra features, such as the ability to find similar shots and sharable “photo journals” are just icing on the cake here.

Like it’s iLife siblings, iPhoto is also $4.99.

No more things..

Well, that about wraps it up for this Apple Event. Are you pumped about the new display? Disappointed that there’s still no expandable storage? Something else invoking a strong reaction? Post your opinions in the comments below.

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  • I decided to sleep on it before commenting – just to let some of the hype wear down on the cool stuff and to soften some of my knee-jerk reactions to other stuff. For the most part, though, I found the whole thing “mildly interesting” and came away with more positive reactions, than negative.

    I like that the AppleTV and supporting infrastructure was bumped to 1080p. I’m in the process of upgrading my home theater to and I was originally looking at a Mac mini running Plex for my movies, but now the AppleTV is also an option to investigate.

    The iOS update seemed kind of “meh” to me (I installed it on both my 3rd Gen. iPod Touch and my iPad 2 just to see), but the thing that irks me most is that now I have to delay my plans to get an iPhone 4s until the jailbreak community catches up.

    “The new iPad’ is kind of a mixed bag for me. If the change to the Retina Display is as much of a quantum leap for the iPad as it was for the iPhone, that’s just going to be freakin’ sweet!

    While I couldn’t care less about the camera on the iPad (that’s why I have a DSLR) I’m just picturing horror scenes in my head of concerts or other events with people holding iPads over their heads trying to film it. People taking pictures and movies with their phones look dorky enough, but it’s at least small. Now picture it with something the size of an iPad. Yeah… spaz-tastic.

    I’m sure some people will find the Dictation function a welcome addition. Bully for them. However, never much cared for voice dictation software, mostly because I’m constantly editing in my head as I go – this sentence alone took three re-writes. So they took out the parts of Siri I could use (setting reminders, searching for information) and left the one I couldn’t. Darn.

    As for the data plans… while I have a hard time justifying the need for a wireless data plan outside the one on my phone, I do find this to be a positive in that it at least opens the possibility/probability that we’ll also see 4G capability on the next iteration of the iPhone.

    As for the updated/new apps… I’m cool with most of them. I’ve not been a fan of iMovie’s current interface – on iOS or OS X – and with the above-mentioned issues with using the iPad as a camera, it just doesn’t interest me. Garage Band’s new features have me seriously considering actually purchasing – which is something considering I’ve bought MAYBE $25 worth of apps over the last 3 years, three of which were $5 apps.

    As for the new iPhoto… I love iPhoto on my Mac – the full screen version is one of the very few things that I actually LIKE about Lion. And the way it seems to be presented in iOS is just as cool-looking. That said, I’m not likely to purchase it, simply because I take WAY too many high-res pictures, in RAW. My iPad would fill up after one shoot. For the extremely casual shooter, though, I could see this as a nice tool.

    So, yeah… Some high points. Some lame points. But overall, not bad.

  • With my MacBook dying I’m hoping Apple releases MBPs with Retina Displays soon.

    An iPad would be nice, but maybe not right now.

    As for the Apple TV, it still lacks a TV tuner. Not bad value for the money, but a Mac Mini is a much better option in my view.

  • I know what you mean, Mike! It took me 2 1/2 hours to get separate orders for the new 3rd gen. iPad, as it is known by, and one for the 3rd gen. Apple TV! Everyone and their grandmother must be ordering iPad’s today and tonight.

    I’m a HUGE fan of high-end displays and to have an LED-backed IPS display on both the iPhone and iPad is already awesome, but to get this super high-resolution, high pixel density, so-called “Retina” displays on both will be nothing short of stunning.

    I also can’t wait for my Apple TV 3rd gen. No more converting videos, no more tied to iTunes, because when you have iOS 5.1 and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion playing together, the results will be seamless AirPlay mirroring between your Mac and Apple TV. In other words, we can just start up that good ol’ VLC player, click the AirPlay button and off it goes the content, wirelessly, to your HDTV or projector. No more cables needed. No more waiting for conversions to finish. No more wasting space by having two versions of a video/movie. And no more losing ANY picture or audio quality, which is always the case when converting, no matter how subtle it may be. Oh yea, and all at full-blown 1080p HD, which in my projector’s case makes a BIG difference! (the diff. between 720p and 1080p HD that is)

    When Tim Cook ended the keynote by saying “this year’s produts will be incredible, and we’re just getting started”, I sincerely hope that he means that IPS displays (and hopefully also “Retina”) are on their way to at least some of the MacBook Pro’s/Air’s. Or make it an option. I’d pay at least $500 for it without a second thought.

  • I have to say, I really wasn’t considering one, but I keep looking at the retina display on my iPhone 4 and just can’t image seeing it in action at iPad scale. I’ll definitely be trying it out in the store. It’s definitely in the maybe camp, but already having an iPad one which is still completely useful for almost all my needs does lessen the desire for a “the new” iPad.

    Overall, I think “the new” iPad will be a hit, as retina displays are really a sight to behold, and book readers everywhere will just love the crisp fonts. Of course, I may just wait for some refurbs to pop up and save a few bucks in a couple months.

    Time will tell… in the meantime…. happy iPadding!