Apple iPad Steps into the Spotlight

After literally months of speculation—the vast majority of it completely uninformed—Apple CEO Steve Jobs has finally taken the stage at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts to unveil the iPad, Apple’s first entry the nascent mobile tablet market—and at first glance, the iPad seems to have it all: a big touch screen, iPad and iPhone apps, games, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, heaps of storage, and Apple’s usual panache for sleek, intuitive interface. But will the iPad live up to the mammoth media hype that has preceded it?

Apple iPad (front)

In introducing the iPad, Steve Jobs positioned the device as something between a phone and a laptop: something that’s portable but still packs enough screen real estate and capability to handle browsing the Web, email, games, music, video, and other media-centric uses. Jobs noted that many in the industry believe this device is a netbook, but noted that netbooks “aren’t better than anything,” offering slow processors, small low-quality displays, and limited capabilities.

Physically, the iPad weighs 1.5 pounds, measures just half an inch thick, and features a 9.7-inch 1,024 by 768-pixel high-quality display with a wide viewing angle and capacitive multi-touch to support gestures (like pinching and swiping) and outright typing. At the heart of the iPad is a 1 GHz A4 CPU from Apple itself (through its 2008 acquisition of P.A. Semi), which Apple says is the most advanced chip they’ve ever produced: the processor it contains its own I/O systems and graphics processor. The iPad will be available with 16, 32, or 64 GB of flash-based storage, and will sport both Bluetooth 2.1 and 802.11a/b/gn Wi-Fi wireless networking. Other gizmos on board include a speaker and microphone, integrated compass, and accelerometer for detecting shakes, bumps, and tilts, and a 3-pin connector for accessories. Apple claims the iPad will run for 10 hours on a single battery charge, and the device will have a standby time of up to a month—users can charge either via a power adapter or USB. And the iPad is green: Apple says the device is free of mercury, arsenic, brominated flame retardants, and PVC.

Apple iPad front back side

Folks looking for truly mobile connectivity will be thrilled to know Apple plans to offer versions of the iPad with 3G connectivity from AT&T—yes, Apple’s same little-loved partner for the iPhone in the United States. However, Apple has negotiated some interesting pre-paid, contract-free service plans: for $14.99 a month, users can get up to 250 MB a month of 3G data service, and folks who want unlimited data service on an iPad can pay $29.99 per month. In addition to the 3G coverage, 3G iPad customers will also have access to AT&T-managed Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the United States. The 3G iPads will use new GSM micro SIMs, and will be unlocked so users aren’t trapped with AT&T…although the micro-SIMs mean they have very few other places to go, at least in the United States. The 3G model will also feature assisted GPS. Apple says the iPad’s 3G options will be data-only, but with integrated speakers and a microphone, it surely won’t be long before developers try to bring VoIP and other voice applications to the iPad. Apple hopes to have international 3G access deals in place by June 2010.

Overall, the iPad’s user interface is neither the iPhone nor Mac OS X—although it certainly owes a visual debt to both. The iPad’s additional screen real estate means the iPad interface isn’t as cramped and abbreviated as a typical mobile device; however, nor is it as complicated and control-heavy as a notebook or desktop computer that can be controlled with a dedicated keyboard and mouse.

Using the iPad, users will be able to enter text for email and other tasks simply by typing on an onscreen QWERTY keyboard, and the iPad will feature touch-enabled onscreen applications for browsing music, photos, and videos—photos will retain metadata and (of course) integrate with Apple’s iPhoto application to pick up on events, places, and recognized faces. The iPad also sports calendar, email, and contact applications, and can tap into location-aware service like Google Maps…and what would a portable media device be these days without YouTube support? Media fans will like support for H.264 video at up to 720p at 30 frames per second; users will also be able to hook up to displays at 1,024 by 768 (via a dock-to-VGA connector) or to big screens via composite AV cables at 576p or 480i.

What will users do with an iPad? Apple (and third party developers) certainly hope they will shop at the App Store. Apple claims the iPad will be able to run nearly all of the existing 140,000+ iPhone apps—users will be able to run iPhone apps in an iPhone-sized area in the middle of the screen, or double up the pixels to run the applications “full-screen” on the iPad. Jobs demonstrated an unmodified version of ESPN’s XGames SnoCross for the iPhone running on the iPad: the game is based on OpenGL graphics, and ran smoothly at high frame rates.

Developers will be able to create applications specifically for the iPad that take advantage of the device’s larger screen area and interface features via an enhanced iPhone SDK, which Apple has now released. Jobs invited partners to the stage to show off the iPad apps they’re already working on: partners included MLB.com, The New York Times, Electronic Arts, and an innovative art application called Brushes that will be available when the iPad goes on sale.

Apple iPad iBooks

Apple also took time to showcase its own ebook reader application, dubbed “iBooks.” iBooks will enable users to purchase, download, and read books from top publishers including Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Penguin—but Apple will be running its own iBook store rather than partnering with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, or any other electronic bookseller. (Of course, if iPhone apps work out of the box, Amazon’s Kindle reader for iPhone will work on the iPad, and nothing would seem to be stopping Amazon from making an iPad-specific Kindle application). Apple’s iBooks are built using the open ePub format; however, unlike the Kindle and other e-Ink based readers, the iPad offers a full-color reading experience, all driven by a touch-screen interface. And, of course, users, can change font size and even presentation fonts of their books. Pricing for books appears to range from $8 to $15.

Apple also shows a version of its iWork productivity suite for the iPad…lest we somehow got the impression the iPad was all for fun and games. The iPad version of iWork will feature versions of Keynote (Apple’s presentation app), Pages (Apple’s word processing and page layout application) and Numbers (Apple’s own spreadsheet program). Offering versions of productivity applications may go some distance towards convincing customers the iPad can take the place of a netbook computer—or, for some people, maybe even a traditional notebook. The iWork applications will produce files compatible with the Mac OS X version of iWork; however, compatibility with Microsoft Office applications and services will be an important factor: it won’t be enough to merely be able to put words and numbers in a row, iPad users will have to seamlessly be able to share documents with mainstream Microsoft Office users. Apple will also have to answer key questions on document sharing and synchronization as users try to integrate iPads into their existing computing setups. One detail Apple did share: the iWork applications will be available from the App Store for $9.99 each.

Apple iPad (flat)

How much will iPads cost? Apple plans to launch the 16 GB base model for $499; the 32 GB model will cost $599 and the 64 GB model will run $699. Customers who want 3G connectivity will need to add an additional $130 to aech of those figures, which means 3G enabled iPads will run $629, $729, and $829 for 16, 32, and 64 GB units, respectively. Pre-orders are available now.

And when will iPads be available? Apple says the non-3G units will begin shipping in 60 days (that put them hitting shelves at the end of March 2010), with the 3G-enabled units following about a month later.

Apple iPad with keyboard

Of course, Apple also plans to ship iPad accessories: perhaps the most interesting to folks who plan to be iPad power users will be a dock with a keyboard, enabling users to do prop up the iPad like a screen and do some serious text input and data entry without using the touch-screen QWERTY keyboard. A separate dock will enable users to set up the iPad as a slideshow-viewing photoframe while charging up the unit, and a separate case can also double as a convenient stand for viewing photos or video. If the market for iPhone and iPod accessories is any indication, third party accessory makers will have their own iPad add-ons ready to go by the time the iPad hits the streets.

This item was written live during Apple’s iPad announcement.

Mobile

Updating to Apple’s iOS 12 will make your iPhone a whole lot smarter

iOS 12, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, is officially here. We took it for a spin to check out its new noteworthy features, and if it truly changes our smartphone habits for the better.
Photography

Adobe Premiere Rush CC is the cloud-based video editing app you've been waiting for

On stage at Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe announced its cloud-centric, social video-editing application, Adobe Premiere Rush CC. We took some time to put it through its paces to see what it offers, how it works, and what's missing.
Mobile

Upcoming iPad may lose a few millimeters, along with its headphone jack

The new iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and Apple Watch aren't the last devices we'll see from Apple in 2018. There are plenty of rumors about a new iPad coming this year too, and it may share some design similarities with the new phones.
Product Review

Samsung’s quick and versatile Chromebook Pro is the future of Chrome OS

Before the Pixelbook hit the market, the Samsung Chromebook Pro was the first premium 2-in-1 Chromebook of its kind. It's portable, stylus and touchscreen-enabled, and came with the Google Play Store installed right out of the box.
Mobile

Put your iPad Pro to the test with these great games

Did you recently purchase a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, or are you enjoying the 12.9-inch version? If so, we've rounded up a few of the best iPad Pro games currently available on Apple's mobile platform.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

If you weren't already aware, USB-C is quickly becoming mainstream. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone.
Mobile

Preapproval for iPhone Upgrade Program now available for iPhone XR

Apple took the wraps off of its new set of iPhones, including the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the new iPhone XR. The iPhone XR is being offered as the "affordable" iPhone, and it's a little different than the more expensive models.
Computing

How to protect your iCloud account

From Chinese hacking to identity theft, it's not surprising if you're a little worried about your iCloud data. Here's how to protect your iCloud account with a few simple security steps. It will only take a few minutes, and we'll walk you…
Computing

Which is best: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme or the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

To try and help nail down the best 15-inch laptops in the world, we compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. MacBook Pro 15 in a head to head that looked at their power, design, and portability.
Mobile

Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel 3 is here, boasting top-tier specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, and some of the world's best artificial intelligence features on a phone. But can it take out the Apple iPhone XS?
Mobile

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.
Mobile

Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Mobile

Safeguard your new Apple smartphone with one of our favorite iPhone XS cases

If the iPhone XS is your next phone, then you’ll want to shop for some proper protection now. That glass sandwich design is all too easy to scratch or crack, so make sure you snag one of the best iPhone XS cases to keep it looking good.
Mobile

Here are our favorite wireless phone chargers for Android devices and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.