Apple has finally unleashed the iPad, it’s newest creation sought to fill the gap between mobile devices and laptops. While it’s a truly innovative and beautiful device, many speculated features that many had hoped for were missing in action during the event that just wrapped up in San Francisco. Still, the iPad is set to turn mobile computing in an entirely different direction, and change the mobile landscape for a long time to come.
Coming in at only .5″ thick, weighing only 1.5 pounds and boasting a 9.7″ IPS high-resolution screen, the iPad packs a punch into a small and elegant package. Looking like an oversize iPhone, the iPad boasts a similar hardware design, with an aluminum casing similar to Macbooks. The brains of the device is a 1GHz Apple A4 chip, and comes in 16, 32 or 64GB models ranging in price from $499 for the 16GB version to $699 for the 64GB version.
In terms of connectivity, the iPad features WiFi and integrated 3G. AT&T was announced as the first partner for Apple in bringing 3G to the iPad, and how they’re doing so is a critical aspect to the future success of the iPad. A no-contract data-plan can be purchased via AT&T directly from the device, requiring no additional terms, contract extensions or upgrade nonsense for $29.99 per month for unlimited data. For $14.99 per month, AT&T will allow up to 250 MBs of data- meant for those who do simple web-browsing or just want to download and read ebooks on the device.
3G coverage for the iPad is a critical aspect, and choosing AT&T for connectivity on an already data-strained network could prove troublesome. Still, it’s a relatively low price for unlimited data- if it’s truly unlimited that is. Wrapping up the hardware end of things, a camera is not included and no phone-based features were demoed during the event, so it’s safe to say we’ll have to wait for future iterations to see these features. The iPad itself will start shipping at the end of March, with 3G models shipping a month later at the end of April. Models equipped with 3G will cost an additional $130, bringing the cost of the base 16GB model with 3G to $629.
In terms of what the iPad doesn’t have, beyond a camera and phone-based features, there was no mention of multitasking, Flash support or notifications- all features that were speculated to be included. Still, the device packs a punch for the first version- future models will undoubtedly have these and much more features.
In terms of the OS, it’s very iPhone-centric with the same basic interface and gestures. A key feature is the ability to run any existing iPhone application- essentially giving it access to 140,000+ apps before even being publicly available. A new iPhone SDK was released today to allow developers to tweak their existing apps for use on the iPad, as well as make sure all future apps are compatible with all of Apple’s mobile devices.
Beyond the App Store and iTunes, which have been “cleaned-up” a tad for use on the iPad, the new device also include Apple’s new “iBook Store,” which allows users to search, preview and purchase ebooks and other digital media directly from the device. A new version of Apple’s iWork suite will also be available for the iPad, turning into a full-fledge business-oriented device for those who require it.
Of course, with any completely new device like this, the potential for innovation is substantial. Like the iPhone did for cell phones, the iPad will change mobile computing forever.