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January 2010

Apples "latest creation" revealed!

At last, the cat's officially out of the bag: today Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPad to the world, kicking off yet another groundbreaking product line.  This fabled device did not fail to impress me, and despite the furiously churning rumour mill ending up spot on regarding many claims, there were still some surprises.

In case this is the first you're hearing of the iPad, imagine an oversized iPhone.  It is a very small and very portable computer, on which most of the input is given via a wonderfully responsive touch screen. 

Apple iPad

Features worth boasting about:

Price: Starting at $499 US, Apple has certainly exceeded my expectations.

The top of the line model at $829 is itself below the previously rumoured price point.  In the US, apple has negotiated a deal with ATT providing data plans for the 3G capable models at under $30 per month.  The best part though is that these models will be sold unlocked (not tied to a specific 3G carrier), and that the data plans will be contract free. Hopefully we'll see similar offerings here in Canada, and with Bell and others moving into the formerly exclusive to Rogers 3G market, I'd guess we will.

LED and IPS on all models!  The displays in this device are all built on the same technology Apple had been using in it's 24" display, and more recently, it's iMac line.  These displays provide accurate colour reproduction, crispness, clarity and viewing angles matched by very few displays in the field.  I'm a huge fan of this technology, and I was very happy to see it being included across the board.

The Apple A4 - Apple has returned to designing their own CPUs, with the "1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip" handling the iPad processing.  I would hope to see vastly increased reliability with this return to proprietary processors (like Apple's G4 and G5 CPUs which preceded the current Intel lineup), and from the reports of graphics capabilities and battery life, Apple also appears to have a very efficient powerhouse here.

What's missing?

What would be the fun of releasing the 'perfect' machine first time around?  My guess is that this version will be tantamount to a very advanced prototype (think original iPhone), and we early adopters will be the beta testers.  I could be wrong, as much of the technology involved in this device has already been proven in the iPhone, but here's a quick list of what I see as missing features:

First: No camera.  This will be a guaranteed addition at a later date, imagine Skype on the iPad!

Second: No multitasking, at least not yet.  With a processor this powerful, it should be theoretically possible, but apparently there are still some hurdles to overcome on this front.  We did not see an announcement of the next iPhone OS, so expect this feature in the near future.

Third: Still no programmable dedicated buttons.  If I could have one feature added to my iPhone, it would be a button or two I could program to do whatever I wanted: take a photo, open a blank email, trigger audio recording, etc.  Likely this would rely on apps running in the background, so it would be dependant on the aforementioned multitasking, but I have a suspicion the lack of dedicated buttons has been a design decision: keeping things simple.

Steve Jobs said to watch for international release in June and 60-90 days in the US depending on the model.  Apple's website of course has full details here: http://www.apple.com/ipad

Jake

Apple Documentaries

Three Apple related documentaries air this week on CNBC -

Welcome to Macintosh was an amusing history of the company.  Packed with amusing dialogue with current and former (original) employees, it was an enjoyable watch, and a good breif history of the company and the products.  It originally aired Jan 4, and re-runs several times this week.  

MacHEADS airs Jan 5, and as you might guess is a look at mac fans, and their unique subculture.

Planet of the Apps airs Jan 7 and promises an in depth look at the booming business of Apps.  What's an App?  Apps are the tiny yet incredibly useful programs that make the iPhone indispensable to people like me.  *Side note - Lake Superior State University has included App in its 2009 "List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness".  -I say they're just jealous ;-)

More on Welcome to Macintosh and MacHEADS here

More on Planet of the Apps here