The iPad and More
The folks at Apple have done it again. They have released the amazing new iPad in both a WiFi only and a WiFi + 3G version, they have announced the impending release of OS 4.0 for the iPhone and the iPad, they have upgraded their notebook line, and they have quietly let out the word that they will have a new iPhone in the June–July 2010 time frame.
What’s New on the iPhone Front?
To make matters even more interesting, Apple, long known for its secrecy respecting new products, even after they have let word leak out about their release, managed to lose two prototypes of the new iPhone (one of which the finder subsequently sold for a reported $5,000). Given the amount of free publicity that Apple has received respecting the new iPhone as a result of the lost and/or misappropriated prototypes, one can only wonder whether the loss represents employee stupidity, simple negligence, or a brilliant strategy to garner free publicity and build up interest for the new iteration of the iPhone.
If the loss of the iPhone prototypes represents an attempt to create a stir about the new iPhone, it worked brilliantly. But then again, the release of a new iPhone has always created quite a lot of interest all by itself. Each release of the iPhone has met with people lining up at the Apple stores, sometimes even overnight, to buy them.
My predictions about the new iPhone include the following features:
- A better camera with at least 5 megapixels.
- iPhone OS 4 (see below for a brief discussion of its features).
- Improved time between charges as a result of a larger battery and the energy saving technology used in iPhone OS 4.
- Increased memory, probably maxing out at 64 GB.
Although I would like to see one more feature, I won’t predict its inclusion. That feature is a second camera pointing back to the user to facilitate using the iPhone for video conferences.
Rumor has it that the next iPhone iteration will have a slightly thicker case to accommodate the larger battery. If that proves to be true, we will live with it and consider the trade-off reasonable. Meanwhile, the makers of after market accessories will love it, as many of the cases we have for our existing iPhones won’t work with the thicker case, so we will likely need new cases for the new phone.
What About the iPod?
I have heard nothing about new iPods, but with the release of a new iPhone model in the June–July time frame, logic dictates an upgraded iPod Touch following closely on its heels. I expect that the next iteration of the iPod Touch will see the use of OS 4, a larger and more powerful battery (probably with a slightly thicker case to accommodate it) and more memory, likely maxing out at 128GB.
Apple iPhone OS4
Apple has announced that it will release iPhone OS4 this summer for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Further, that it will make OS4 available for its recently released iPad (see below) in the fall. Apple has already modified its website to include information about the new operating system. If you go to the iPhone division of the Apple website, you can check out the new OS.
The information on the website advises that we should expect more than 100 new features in the new OS, the most significant of which include:
- the adoption of technology that will allow the iBook application designed for the iPad to work on the iPhone;
- the introduction of folders that will facilitate your organization and use of apps. With the new system, you will have access to and control of up to 2160 apps (they really better upgrade the memory to facilitate that);
- better ability to multitask by allowing some functions to continue to work in the background without a significant power drain;
- modified and improved Mail allowing easier switching among in-boxes and also providing a unified in-box for mail viewing;
- improved security and additional features designed to satisfy the requirements of enterprise IT departments.
Although Apple lists another feature as one of the more significant, I am somewhat dubious about it qualifying as an improvement from the user’s perspective. The new OS will include a feature called iAd. Apple describes iAd as:
a breakthrough mobile advertising platform from Apple. With it, apps can feature rich media ads that combine the emotion of TV with the interactivity of the web. For developers, it means a new, easy-to-implement source of revenue. For advertisers, it creates a new media outlet that offers consumers highly targeted information.
You can decide whether you consider iAd a bonus or a bane, but expect that because of it you will see a lot more advertising on your iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, especially within your apps.
What About the iPad?
Apple has released the iPad. I had to wait an extra month for mine as I chose to get the WiFi + 3G version. The iPad has appealed to people of all ages and amazingly enough, outsold the iPhone in the first months following its release.
I have discussed the iPad’s features at some length in my Road Warrior column in the June 2010 issue of GPSolo magazine. Shortly after the print magazine is released, you can find it online at the GPSolo Division’s website.
The iPad displays content in portrait or landscape orientation. The IPS (in-plane switching) display technology provides a wide (178°) viewing angle. The iPad uses multitouch technology, just like the iPhone and iPod Touch. The iPad sports a 9.7" screen, weighs in at about a pound and a half (add a tenth of a pound for the 3G version) and measures 9.56" x 7.47" x .5". Apple claims up to a 10-hour battery life for the iPad.
The iPad comes in two different versions: WiFi and WiFi plus 3G. You also get the choice of 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB with each version. As the iPad has no slot for a memory stick or memory card, what you get when you open the box represents the memory you will have to work with; accordingly, you will probably want to get a unit with at least 32GB and preferably 64GB.
The iPad comes with the same docking connector as the iPhone and iPod. It has no other ports for data or charging, so whatever you connect to has to go through that dock. In addition to the iPad itself, Apple offers a number of accessories to make it work better (although adding the accessories does make it somewhat less convenient to carry.
[insert image of iPad here]
The list of accessories includes a dock, a keyboard dock, a case that folds up to make a stand for you to use the iPad with its virtual keyboard, and a VGA adapter that will let you connect the iPad to a projector or other VGA device. You can also use the Apple Wireless Keyboard with the iPad. Apple also offers a camera connection kit allowing you to connect to a digital camera and download pictures to your iPad. The iPad Dock and the Keyboard Dock provide access to a dock connector port for syncing or charging, and an audio line out port for connecting to powered speakers via an optional audio cable. The iPad Docks also support other iPad accessories.
The WiFi iPad requires a hotspot for Internet access. The WiFi plus 3G version works through wireless hotspots and gives you the option of 3G connection. Apple has set up a data plan with ATT providing the choice of 250 MB of data per month for $14.99 or unlimited use for $29.99. The plan requires no long term contract, so you can cancel usage whenever you want. You can also turn it on and off if you want.
The iPad runs apps from Apple’s App Store. Although Apple says that almost all the apps in the store will run on the iPad, some (many) of them will require modification to take advantage of the screen size and features the iPad offers. So far, all the apps that I have used that were written for the iPad do decent job of taking advantage of the iPad’s real estate and other features. The apps written for the iPhone all display using a small portion of the screen (approximately the size of the iPhone’s display), leaving the rest of the screen black. The iPad software affords the opportunity to double the size of the display, but generally that provides a blown up and pixilated presentation of the screen. Yes, they work, but the experience is not satisfying. Hopefully the developers of my (and your) favorite apps will release iPad friendly versions in the near future.
The iPad’s larger screen provides a much better Internet experience than the iPhone or the iPod. It also offers a better viewing experience for movies and pictures.
Apple’s iBook App lets you download and read books from Apple’s new iBook store (you can also access the materials offered by Amazon using the Kindle App or the Barnes & Noble material using their App). The iPad makes a very satisfactory ereader. In fact, I prefer it to the other ereader devices that I have seen due to its backlighting, high resolution, and the color display.
The iPad comes with three amounts of memory. What you get when you buy it is what you have, as you cannot add more memory, and the system does not accommodate memory cards.
The biggest missing features other than memory are the lack of a USB port and the absence of webcam for video conferencing. I hope that the next iteration of the iPad will have a webcam.
The iPad’s pricing structure follows:
WiFi + 3G
You can learn more about the iPad on the Apple Web site. Apple has special section of the site for the iPad.
MacBook Pro Line Refreshed
As it does every so often, Apple has refreshed its laptop line, by upgrading the MacBook Pro. The line has three sizes of computers, 13",15", and 17". The 15" and 17" upgrades make the biggest performance differences as those models now use the Intel Core i5 processor (and you can upgrade the 15" model to an Intel Core i7. The 13" models continue to use Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors running at speeds ranging from 2.26 to 2.66 GHz. The i5 and i7 processors provide significantly more power than the Core 2 Duo and reportedly run up to 50 percent faster.
Apple claims that the 13" MacBook Pro provides up to 10 hours of operating time from one charge of the battery and that the 15" and 17" provide 9 and 8 hours of operating time, respectively.
The new computers offer upgraded displays and graphics as well.