Apple added a few bells and whistles in iOS 4.3, including iTunes Share and the optional restoration of an orientation lock switch, but fundamentally the iPad OS is the same. Between Android Honeycomb's widget support, the HP TouchPad's neat interplay with WebOS phones and the Blackberry Playbook's powerful multitasking, the iPad is looking more like an oversized iPod Touch than ever. Here's hoping iOS 5 brings the necessary overhaul.
Dave Schumaker of gdgt zinged Apple with a pithy Tweet: "'The iPad is a true post-PC device.' First thing you have to do when you turn on an iPad? Hook it up to a PC." Even if you never sync a single piece of media from a computer to an iPad, you still need iTunes on a PC or Mac to keep the tablet's software up to date. This needs to change.
With MobileMe removed from retail channels, a revamped free version seemed like a safe bet for Apple's iPad 2 event. The rumor mill was predicting a digital locker for multimedia, and maybe even wireless syncing to iTunes, but no dice.
Want to connect your iPad to a television through HDMI? That'll be $39 for the Apple Digital AV Adapter. Want to transfer photos directly to the iPad without going through iTunes? That'll be $29 for the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit. Maybe I'm a bit spoiled to complain about these things given that the iPad 2's main competitor, Motorola's $800 Xoom, doesn't come close on pricing for the tablet itself, but $68 for a pair of connectivity dongles seems a little unfair.
iPad 2 and the iPad Smart Cover are made for each other. Literally.4 We designed the iPad Smart Cover to work side-by-side with iPad — and on top and underneath it, too. Smart magnetic technology built into each really pulls them together. The iPad Smart Cover falls perfectly into place and stays put to protect your iPad screen, yet doesn’t add bulk to its thin, light design. Open the Smart Cover and your iPad wakes up instantly. Close it and your iPad goes to sleep automatically. And here’s another smart part: It transforms into the perfect movie-watching, game-playing, web-surfing stand. It comes in 10 bright colors — including five in rich, aniline-dyed Italian leather. Choose your favorite, and your iPad will be smart all around.
An iOS 4.3 update ships with the new iPad on March 11 (and will be generally available for all recent iOS devices at the same time). The biggest new feature here is an upgrade to AirPlay. Apple is now opening up AirPlay to third-parties, so that any app in the App Store will be able to wirelessly stream to an Apple TV. It won’t be fast enough to work with games. However, for any app that uses video or photos, it will be great to be able to easily and wirelessly shift the display to an HD TV.
In general, the new features in iOS 4.3 are not specific to the iPad 2. Home Sharing, for example, allows any iOS device to access your Mac’s entire iTunes Library. No downloading is required (you’ll need the just released iTunes 10.2). The Personal Hotspot feature doesn’t apply to the iPad at all; it’s just for the iPhone 4.
According to the iPad specs page, the new video mirroring feature will also work with Apple’s existing VGA adapter. Very nice. Whenever I give a talk, the projectors are always VGA. It’s good to know that I won’t need any adapter-to-adapter kludge to get this to work.
According to the Apple Store listing, the Digital AV Adapter will also work with the iPad 1, iPhone 4 and latest iPod touch — for “video out” but not for mirroring. I assume this means you can only use the new adapter with these other devices for the sort of “video out” you can already do with other adapters (e.g., movies and photo slide shows). I expect mirroring support will be added to these other iOS devices in their next generation.
On reflection, the new Adapter doesn’t entirely eliminate what I can do with jailbreak mirroring software. Jailbreaking allows me to display my iOS device screens on a Mac, which is convenient for recording video of the display. Still, Apple’s new Adapter and mirroring support is a big step forward.
The iPad 2 is noticeably thinner than the previous version of the tablet, at 8.8 millimeters, or about a third of an inch, rather than the previous 13.4 millimeters. It also has a more rounded back than the original iPad.
Once you pick up iPad 2, it’ll be hard to put down. That’s the idea behind the all-new design. It’s 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter, so it feels even more comfortable in your hands.2 And it makes surfing the web, checking email, watching movies, and reading books so natural, you might forget there’s incredible technology under your fingers.
The iPad 2 includes a faster chip than the first iPad — Apple's new dual-core A5 processor — which is meant to enhance its overall performance and graphics capabilities.
Two powerful cores in one A5 chip mean iPad can do twice the work at once. You’ll notice the difference when you’re surfing the web, watching movies, making FaceTime video calls, gaming, and going from app to app to app. Multitasking is smoother, apps load faster, and everything just works better.