In Apple’s first major product announcement in the post-Steve Jobs era, the company on Wednesday introduced the latest version of its best-selling iPad tablet, which sports a higher-resolution display, better cameras and faster wireless connectivity.
The product, dubbed simply “the new iPad,” will go on sale March 16 at the same $499 to $699 prices as earlier versions. Pre-orders began Wednesday through Apple’s website.
In a media presentation in San Francisco, Chief of Marketing Phil Schiller announced that the new iPad will have an updated LCD display that is four times the resolution of the iPad 2. Called “a retina display” for its density of pixels, its dots on the screen will not be distinguishable by a user viewing from distance of 15 inches.
The new device also will be compatible with faster 4G wireless cellular networks offered by AT&T and Verizon. With the new networks, users will be able to stream video or download apps at much faster speeds than with the older, slower 3G networks. Verizon’s 4G network has been deployed and turned on in Utah, while AT&T’s has not.
The iPad will also be equipped with a new 5-megapixel back camera similar to the one used in the latest iPhone 4S. The earlier iPad 2 was widely criticized for its weaker set of back- and front-facing cameras.
The new iPad will be powered with a faster A5X quad-core graphics processor in order to meet the demands of the higher-resolution screen. Schiller said the device will have the same 10-hour battery life as the older iPad versions.
In order to take advantage of the tablet’s new 2048-by-1536-pixel screen, developers will have to program their apps to run in the new native resolution, though Schiller said older apps will be scaled up and should look better.
Reaction to the announcement was mixed.
“I’m not jumping out of my chair [because] it was all pretty expected,” said Matt Haliski, 29, a Web developer for a Salt Lake City-based advertising firm, who nevertheless spent his lunchtime Wednesday buying a new version online. “But it addressed the two issues I had — the resolution and camera quality.”
Apple also announced new updates available as of Wednesday to its iPad apps for Garage Band, iMovie and a new iPad version of iPhoto that will be designed for the new screen. And Apple’s productivity suite, which includes the word processor Pages, the spreadsheet Numbers and the presentation application called Keynote, all are updated, as well.
During Wednesday’s event, Apple also announced a new version of its Apple TV box, the $99 device that streams shows and movies to a TV set. The new version will support 1080p high-definition video and run on a newly designed user interface. Also, the iPad 2 will be sold at a new lower price of $399 for the 16GB, Wifi-only model.
Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, who launched the media presentation, said that the company sold 172 million iPhones, iPods and iPads last year, representing 76 percent of Apple’s revenue. He also said that the company’s 362 worldwide stores received 110 million visitors in just the fourth quarter of last year. There are two Apple retail stores in Utah, one at The Gateway mall in downtown Salt Lake City, and a newer store in the Fashion Place mall in Murray.
The new iPad announcement was the company’s first major product debut since Apple’s former CEO and co-founder, Jobs, died Oct. 5 from complications due to pancreatic cancer.
Last month, it was reported that Apple had a cash reserve of $100 billion. In trading Wednesday, Apple’s stock closed at $530.69, up 43. cents, after being down nearly $3 earlier in the day.
Google+: +Vincent Horiuchi
The new iPad
There are nine models of the new iPad, with different costs, access capabilities and storage capacities:
Wi-Fi only, 16 gigabytes of storage, $499
Wi-Fi only, 32GB, $599
Wi-Fi only, 64GB, $699
Wi-Fi and 4G cellular connection, 16GB, $629 (separate models for AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks)
Wi-Fi and 4G cellular connection, 32GB, $729 (separate models for AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks)
Wi-Fi and 4G cellular connection, 64GB, $829 (separate models for AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks)
Source: The Associated Press