So the speculating and rumour churning is finally over. Apple have finally unveiled their tablet device and it’s called the iPad. Much like a giant iPhone, it’s, to be honest, more or less exactly how everyone expected it would be, with a huge 9.7 inch touchscreen and a ton of apps running on an updated iPhone OS. Prices start from a staggeringly affordable $499 (£309) up to $829 (£514) and will be available to buy in just over 2 months time, with 3G enabled models available within 90 days.
So what do we know about the iPad? Well, quite a lot actually. Apple’s announcement today saw the company’s main-man Steve Jobs talk the world through its device, revealing a host of great features and the gear behind all the magic.
First up, the iPad’s size. It’s difficult to ascertain how comfortable the iPad is without touching it, but we do know it’s only half an inch thick despite the massive touchscreen (sadly not OLED) and that it is also surprisingly light.
Then moving swiftly onto the hardware. The processor inside is an Apple A4 chip, running at 1GHz. No Qualcomm outsourcing here, this is an Apple inside job through and through. Onboard, users will have a choice between 16GB or 64GB of storage, with Bluetooth, 3G, a speaker, GPS compass, N-Standard Wi-Fi and a microphone also included. There’s 10 hours of battery juice from a single charge even while watching video, as well as a 30-pin dock connector on the side for plugging in add-ons such as a fully mechanical keyboard. The iPad will also sync and back data up with your computer via USB.
Browsing the web is a huge part of the iPad experience. iPads are fully unlocked, so you’ll be able to pick up data packages from any micro-SIM selling network. No UK details on that until June, but US users can get unlimited data deals from AT&T for $29.99 a month. Inside the Safari browser, a massive QWERTY keyboard hits the touchscreen, looking very responsive in Jobs’ hands. All of the pinch and swipe gestures iPhone users are familiar with are onboard, and with a guesstimated resolution of 960×640 (UPDATE: The resolution has been confirmed as 1024×768) with IPS and LED backlighting, it all looks very sleek. YouTube for instance, will be capable of running in high-definition. There was suggestion however that Flash may not be compatible, as Jobs hit a site with a missing plug-in logo.
Just like the iPhone, apps are a big part of the iPad experience. A fully featured iTunes store (not a portable version) is available to browse. While Apple have released a brand new SDK for developers to get cracking with, Jobs assured that thanks to the high resolution of many existing apps, most will be able to be scaled to fit the new device without any problems.
Touchscreen gaming is going to be a big draw. Gameloft and Electronic Arts both showed off quick demos at the show, so you can expect a ton of gaming apps to become available for the device upon release. The strong battery life should see you through a gaming session comparable to a console experience if done correctly.
E-books, unsurprisingly, also feature on the iPad, but with some cool added functions. The iBook store will let users buy books at $14.99 a pop. Fonts can be changed, sizes altered, and animations and videos included from publishers if they desire. Though there is no clarification whether or not you’ll be able to import your old e-books, five of the world’s top publishing houses are already onboard, so expect Amazon’s Kindle to have its tail dangling between its legs right now. Likewise, the New York Times demoed a very impressive app, with certain areas of a story automatically updating as breaking news comes in.
All play and no work make you highly envied, so Apple have also thrown in iWork, which includes new versions of Numbers and Pages for getting your spreadsheets and text documents done on the go. Keynote also gets included, with multi touch controls used to manipulate slides. The iWork apps will cost $9.99 each.
For the green-conscious among you, you’ll be happy to hear that the iPad plays nice with the environment. There’s no arsenic used in the build, and it’s all housed in a recyclable aluminium shell.
Enough to sate your appetite? We’ll have a load more info on the iPad in the coming hours, so keep checking back!