Apple hosted events in London and San Francisco earlier today in which CEO Steve Jobs announced the next version of its iPad tablet, which will ship on 11 March in US and 25 March in the UK (and 24 other countries). He also announced Apple iOS 4.3 - the next iteration of Apple's mobile operating system. PC Advisor's Matt Egan and Macworld.com staff were on hand to cover both cities, reporting the news as it happened.
The CEO returned from sick leave to present the Apple event in San Francisco, streamed simultaneously to an event in London. There, Jobs announced the Apple iPad 2 - a device with what Apple refers to as "a totally different design". Jobs said the new device will be dramatically faster, with a dual-core A5 processor, up to two times faster than the previous iPad's CPU. He said Apple had gone all out on graphics performance, with up to nine times faster graphics. Apple didn't mention how much RAM the iPad 2 contains, and the screen resolution is the same as the original iPad.
iPad 2 has the same battery life as the original iPad, according to Apple, and will run Apple iOS 4.3. Apple iOS 4.3 will be free download for all Apple iPad, iPhone and later iPod touch users, on 11 March.
Jobs described the iPad 2 - which will have front and rear cameras - as "the first dual core tablet to ship in volume." It will also have a built-in gyroscope, and is dramatically thinner than the original iPad. Indeed, it is thinner than the iPhone 4. With the two cameras on board, users can now enjoy video conferencing via the iPad 2 as well as the iPhone 4, using Facetime.
The iPad 2 is also significantly lighter than its predecessor, and comes from day one in white and black. Given all these improvements, it's impressive that Apple has brought the new iPad to market at the same price point as the original iPad: it's also available in the same model lineup - 16GB, 32GB, 64GB models with or without 3G.
Describing the iPad 2, Jobs said: "It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing."
Apple also demonstrated iMovie - Apple's film-editing software application and music editor GarageBand - on an iPad 2.
iMovie for iPad has a precision editor, multitrack audio recording, new themes, AirPlay, the ability to share your videos in HD with popular sites, and is universal, so it will also run on iPhone.
Garage Band for iPad offers touch instruments. It is compatible with the Mac version, and in this latest version allows you to strum your iPad like a guitar. It also offers guitar amps and effects, 8 track recording and mixing as well as 250+ loops, and you can e-mail AAC files of your songs.
At the event Jobs demonstrated an add-on HDMI-out accessory for iPad2, with which users can present up to 1080p content direct from their iPad 2. He also showed off a thin, see-through case that is flexible and held in place by magnets. The case is made of polyurethane.
Describing the Apple iPad at the event via a video message, Apple designer Jonathan Ive said: "I cannot think of a product that has defined a new category, and then redesigned in such a short time."
Jobs started the event by announcing that Apple has sold more than 100 million iBooks, and that with the addition of Random House, there are now more than 2500 book publishers using the iBookstore to sell e-books via Apple iPhone and iPad devices.
Jobs also revealed that Apple has now paid out more than $2bn to developers of apps for iOS devices, and shipped it's 100 millionth iPhone. He revealed that Apple sold more than 15 million iPads in 2010 alone - and the Apple iPad didn't launch until March of that year. This generated a staggering $9.5bn in revenue, and gained more than 90% market share. There are now 65,000 dedicated iPad apps on the Apple App store. Jobs attributed some of the iPad's success to the Apple Stores: "Without these stores, I don't think we would have been successful either."