Need to Know: Apple iPad 2

iPad 2

Today the rumours came true along with the hopes and dreams of numerous Apple fan bois as Apple's much worshipped chief executive unveiled the iPad 2.

Read on for a digest of what you need to know about Apple's second tablet device.

What was all the fuss about?

Ever since Apple announced the first iPad back in January 2010, the rumour mills began about what the second generation of the device would bring.

We all knew it was coming and speculation on the new features had been rife but today we finally got to see the new device in action and here about why it should topple all the rival tablets launched over the past few months.

New features then?

Well, not all of the rumours proved true but the dead certs were definitely there.

The iPad 2 will come with a dual-core processor, bringing it up-to-speed with the likes of the BlackBerry PlayBook and Motorola Xoom. Apple also claimed the new graphics would boost performance by a factor of nine.

It will feature two cameras, one front facing and one back mounted, to allow for video calling through Apple's own application, FaceTime. It will also be 33 per cent thinner than the iPhone 4 and weigh a little bit less than its predecessor 0.2 pounds lighter to be exact.

Battery life will supposedly stay the same, even with the increased power, and the price in the US will also remain at the $499 starting point.

So what was missing that we expected?

We did really expect a retina display. Apple already has this on the iPhone 4 and is a real winner in our eyes, but unfortunately it decided to plump for the original screen.

We also thought the size might differ as there is such a variety out there now but again, Apple thought its original dimensions were the ones to stick with. Why fix something if it ain't broken we guess?

We are, however, very disappointed by the lack of USB port which would have made our lives as business users so much more productive. Also we have queries about the $39 HDMI cable the company is touting. Does this mean we won't be able to use a standard HDMI? We will let you know when we do.

How about the operating system?

We already knew iOS 4.3 had been released to developers but today we got some more details on the improvements it would bring to users.

Top of the list was improvements to JavaScript. Scott Forestall, one of the company's vice presidents, claimed it would twice as fast, allowing for big improvements on its Safari browser although, we're sure this isn't a massive priority for many who will use alternative browsers.

The switch on the iPad will also become more multi-functional thanks to the new iOS, enabling it to be defined as either a mute button, a lock or a rotational lock, rather than just the current mute capability. Not a big change but something many iPad users have asked for.

Finally, there is a big focus on what Macs do best audio and video editing. Both GarageBand and iMovie will be coming to the iPad 2, with multi-track recording and HD sharing capabilities. Definitely a bonus for portable artistic types.

Why was everyone so excited about Steve Jobs?

It was a shock and surprise to see him there, that's why! The chief executive has recently taken indefinite medical leave and has handed over power of the firm to chief operating officer Tim Cook.

However, he turned up on stage claiming he "didn't want to miss this event" as Apple had been working on the product for a long time.

So what about Jonathan Ives?

This week had been just as much about whether the British designer of the iPad and iPhone was set to jump ship to return back to our shores in order to spend more time with his family.

But Apple wanted to calm down the negative press it seems and presented a video of Ives waxing lyrical about how this year would be the year of the iPad 2. He was also sat front row and centre at the event, but was not invited on stage.

Worth all the hype?

The device, as with most Apple devices, looks shiny. It adds a number of new features iPad users were crying out for, the new iOS is a definite plus and even the cases are some smart use of technology.

But the feeling is there isn't the wow factor as with the first device. Everyone else has dual core tablets now with cameras and good graphics. Can this really compete when the market is flooded?

But this is Apple we are talking about. It has a dedicated fan base and once you get one of it's oh so pretty products in your hands, it is hard to put it down.

We will let you know if it is worth the hype once we get our hands on a review sample.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.