As expected, Apple yesterday announced the availability of a new iPad. But that wasn’t all they had to offer. New Apple TV hardware, OS and cloud service updates, and apps rounded out Apple’s product announcements. Here’s a quick summary of what they unveiled yesterday.
Firmware upgrade for existing iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. iOS 5.1 adds improved (read: changed) camera access from the lock screen, face recognition in the Camera app, Japanese support for Siri, podcast playback improvements (that had been previously removed), call quality improvements, and fixes for more bugs that were causing battery drain. It also adds the ability to remove individual photos from your photo stream. The update is available immediately.
Movies in the iCloud. Your iCloud account now lets you access movies you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store, rounding out Apple’s cloud services to give you access to nearly all of your media purchases from connected Apple devices.
1080p HD. Select movies and TV shows are now available in 1080p HD quality in the iTunes Store.
Updated Apple TV hardware and UI. The Apple TV streaming device has been updated with a faster processor—now capable of playing 1080p HD content—and a freshened UI that feels more app-centric. Online services like YouTube and Netflix are no longer buried in the Internet menu, but exposed as tiles on the screen. The UI update is now available to owners of current-generation Apple TV, and the new-generation device ships next week. It’s still just $99.
The new iPad.While Apple appears a bit flaky on the name of the new iPad, they were very clear about all of its new features. For the exact same price structure ($499 to $829, depending on capacity and connectivity), the new iPad has twice the resolution of the previous generation devices. At 2048 x 1536, that’s a higher resolution than most monitors, HDTVs, and projectors—all packed into a screen under 10″. A quad-core graphics processor drives the new display. The device also has a 5 megapixel rear camera with image stabilization and 1080p video recording capability, a new voice dictation feature, and 4G LTE support (including a personal hotspot feature, where supported by providers). Apple claims the new device still gets between 9 and 10 hours of battery life, depending on connectivity. All this capability comes with a little additional heft, as the new device is half a millimeter thicker and 50 grams heavier then the iPad 2. The new iPad ships on March 16.
The old iPad. The iPad 2 is now available in 16GB models only at $399 for WiFi only or $529 with 3G.
iWork and iLife for iOS. Apple has updated the current iWork and iLife (Garage Band and iMovie) apps for iOS, adding iPhoto to the suite to round out a complete iWork and iLife offering for their mobile platform. These apps are all available now in the iTunes Store.