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Apple’s CEO Tim Cook took the stage in San Francisco today to announce the next version of the iPad, as well as iOS 5.1 and a new AppleTV. The new iPad features a retina display and a faster processor. The wireless version will now support 4G LTE networks for significantly faster download speeds while on the go. The design of the new iPad looks virtually identical to the iPad2.
The new AppleTV now supports 1080p playback and also comes with an updated user interface.
iPad: Retina Display, Faster Processor, Better Camera
The central focus of today’s event, of course, was the next version of the iPad. Apple, in Cook’s words, wants to “redefine the category that Apple created with the original iPad.”
As expected, the highlight of the new iPad is a high-resolution display — the kind Apple likes to call a Retina Display. It features a 2048×1536 resolution (that’s 3.1-million pixels at 264ppi) and is, according to Apple, the “most ever in a mobile device.” Apple also notes that the new display also offers significantly better colour saturation.
Inside the iPad, a new A5X processors now offers quad-core graphics performance that is, according to Apple, four times as fast as a comparable NVIDIA Tegra 3.
The new iPad will also features a significantly better camera (5MP, IR filter, face detection, etc.). The new camera will allow you to shoot video in 1080p. Maybe even more importantly, the camera software now uses stabilisation to ensure your movies aren’t too shaky.
The new iPad will be 9.4mm thin and weighs 1.4 pounds. It will retail starting at $499 for the 16GB version. It will be available on March 16th in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and Japan and will go on sale world-wide on 23 March.
4G for the iPad
Surprisingly, the new iPad will also offer support for 4G LTE wireless networks. These next-generation networks offer faster download speeds, though until now, Apple had been somewhat conservative about moving to these faster networks as there has generally been a trade-off between battery life and speed. Apple, however, says that this new version will offer the same battery life as the previous 3G iPad (10 hours of battery life, 9 hours on 4G).
The 4G version is coming to Verizon, AT&T in the U.S. and Telus, Rogers and Bell in Canada. Prices for the 4G iPad will start at US$629.
The 4G version of the iPad will, it is worth noting, also support regular 3G networks.
Users will also be able to turn the 4G iPad into a personal hotspot — if the carrier supports it.
In addition to the new hardware, Apple also talked about the app ecosystem for its tablet. Cook, of course, couldn’t help himself and had to take a stab at Android. Specifically, he noted how Twitter on a Galaxy Tab “looks like a blown-up smartphone app” while the iPad version was clearly designed for a tablet.
New AppleTV & iTunes in the Cloud
iTunes in the cloud, which was mostly focused on music until now, now offer support for movies as well. Users will be able to re-download any of the movies they have purchased on any device. These movies will be encoded in 1080p.
The reason for this is that Apple’s latest version of the AppleTV, which the company also announced today, finally supports 1080p as well. The new AppleTV also features an updated interface that makes use of the extra pixels. Just like the old AppleTV, this new version will cost US$99. It will be available next week and you can pre-order starting today.
Siri Comes to Japan
In addition to all of this, Apple also today announced that Siri, it’s voice-enable personal assistant, is coming to Japan as part of the company’s iOS 5.1 update (which is also rolling out today).
The Post-PC World
Cook also used his presentation to talk about Apple’s vision of the post-PC world. In his view, it seems, the iPod started this trend, followed by the iPhone and, of course, the iPad. “Apple,” he said,”has its feet firmly planted in the post-PC future.” These devices, according to Apple, made up 76% of its revenue last year and the company sold a total of 172 million of them. In the last quarter alone, Apple sold 62-million iPads.