The new iPad and the new Apple

The new iPad and the new Apple

I've watched the new iPad event twice now. They hit most of the notes most of us expected -- including the Retina display, LTE 4G networking, and iPhoto for iOS. The way in which they hit those notes, however, and some of the notes they didn't hit, were just as interesting and revealed as much about the new iPad as they did the new Apple.

This is a subset of a much longer, more involved, more interesting discussion I had with Georgia and AppCubby's David Barnard earlier tonight on iPhone & iPad Live. We'll post that show tomorrow, but here's the gist:

Tim Cook remains solid as an event anchor. He's measured, methodical, and supremely knowledgeable about Apple and their products. That sounds obvious, but many CEOs don't come off that way. He's an operations guy, not a product guy, but he's better than 99% of the keynote speakers out there, and if anyone knocks him it's only be he's taken over from the best keynote speaker in the history of the industry, the late Steve Jobs. That stage was owned by Jobs. He was infectiously engaging yet, at the same time, looked as though, at any moment, he could spin around and end you with a glare. That's an impossible act to follow. That Cook turned in a solid performance, that Phil Schiller remained affable and informative, that Eddy Cue brought a little bass, was not only commendable, but given the circumstances, phenomenal.

That Scott Forstall wasn't on stage was as notable as iOS not really being on stage. After the longest beta cycle that I can remember, iOS 5.1 was announced by Tim Cook as being available immediately. There was no GM (Gold Master) build for developers to test out, and apparently none needed since there were very few new, customer facing features. The original iPad release in 2010 had Forstall on stage showing off iOS 3.2 and the new iPad interface itself -- how the built in apps had been re-built to take advantage of a 1024x768 9.7-inch display. With the iPad 2 in 2011 Forstall showed how iOS 4.2 unified the platform and brought everything from multitasking to folders to the iPad. With the new iPad this year, nothing. iOS was less keynote and more footnote. (No doubt iOS 6 will be the star of Apple's WWDC this summer.)

Same with the new Apple TV. It did get a new interface (which I'm not wild about -- more on that in the review), and a new model that is software-identical in every way with the exception of 1080p video support. However, the new Apple TV wasn't even announced as peripheral to the iPad, but as peripheral to the 1080p video. The original Apple TV got the full Steve Jobs treatment during the original iPhone keynote no less. The 2nd generation Apple TV got similar treatment during the 2010 iTunes and iPod event. This one got an "if you also want." That's going from "hobby" to "aside". Whether that's a sign the living room is still in a holding pattern for Apple, or it's the calm before an Apple television storm is hard to say.

Either way, it's more than the iPod touch got. The iPod touch now the only iOS device that hasn't received an update to the latest generation hardware specs, and the iOS device that's gone the longest ever without receiving an update -- since fall of 2010. Once positioned as a gaming platform, it briefly enjoyed a processor that out-clocked even the iPhone. Now two generations behind when it comes to internal architecture, stuck on the A4 to the iPhone 4S' A5 and the new iPad's A5X, it's hard to see where it fits in Apple's plans beyond "cheapest gateway to the App Store". Starting at $199, it's competitive with budget tablets, even if half the size, so maybe that's enough for now.

And yeah, Apple went with the A5X system-on-a-chip, which we heard would be quad-core but turned out to be dual core for the CPU and quad-core for the GPU. Apple stressed the quad-core and the GPU, and touted the graphics performance far more than the raw processing power, but the proc itself is dual. (At least that may explain the divergent rumors.)

Maintaining 10 hours of battery life with the denser, Retina display screen is impressive. Maintaining 9 hours of battery life with a 4G LTE radio is flabbergasting. Speaking of which, one 4G LTE model to support AT&T, Rogers, Bell, and Telus, and another to support Verizon, and no word on Asian, Australian, or European 4G LTE is likely to frustrate people outside North America. It's a hell of a radio, though, with HSPA+ 42mbps support as well, and the most bands ever according to Apple. That will no doubt make it tough for some to decide which network to go with.

Tethering is a huge plus as well.

Keeping the price point identical the iPad 2, given the sheer amount of new technology in the new iPad was most impressive. Those panels and those radios can't have lowered the bill of goods. Keeping the iPad 2 around at a $100 discount was just as impressive. It lowers the price differential between the cheapest iPad and the $299 budget tablets, and it makes the platform more accessible than ever to schools and Enterprise that don't need or don't want all the bells and whistles. For cash-strapped consumers, deciding between the $399 iPad 2 and $499 new iPad might be just as tough.

Glass shelves in iPhoto for iOS show skeumorphism is alive and well, perhaps more so than ever with all the faux brushes and other effects. It wasn't the more graceful Aperture-like experience I hoped for, and the user interface isn't as elegant as Apple achieved with GarageBand for iOS. It does complete the iLife package (iWeb and iDVD are dead, thank you very much), however, and pushes the iPad further into the content creation space.

It does Sherlock photo editing apps, but as Avid Studio showed against iMovie, there's still a lot of room for 3rd parties to show off. (Too bad Photoshop Touch didn't stick their landing.)

Siri didn't get any iPad user interface love at all. The idea of moving Siri over to the bigger iPad screen was a challenge to begin with. As Alex Heath postulated, they went with a subset -- voice dictation rather than something more ambitious or nothing at all. That eases one of my text entry pain point, but it means Reminders will remain an app I populate solely via Siri on the iPhone 4S.

While Apple has previously referred to

Now the name. "The new iPad". The logic is sound -- it's not MacBook Air 3, after all, it's just MacBook Air. In theory it's cleaner and stronger branding. At least it would be if "The new" didn't squeak every time it turned around too fast. It's also a little awkward if a first time customer walks into a store and sees an "iPad 2" on the shelf next to an "iPad" and the "iPad 2" is the older, less-good-but-cheaper option. In a couple of generations, when the iPad 2 is a memory and it's been just "iPad" for years, it won't matter. But it does feel out of place right now. (And yes, Leanna predicted the next iPhone would be simply the "iPhone" so kudos to her for the concept, even if Apple beat her to the timeline.)

(Technically, like iPods and Macs, Apple refers to "the new iPad" as iPad (3rd generation) on product order and support pages, and it has an internal model number of iPad 3,x, so you can still be precise if you ever need to be.)

Phil Schiller was quoted rather broadly as saying the new name was a sign Apple didn't want to be predictable. That sounds like when the brilliant head chef has left the restaurant and the apprentices finally have direct access to the spice rack. It's no longer all saffron all the time, exactly the way they're told. There's more variety, more individuality, more nuance. Sometimes refreshingly so, sometimes head-scratchingly so. It may not always be as perfect, but it's even more exciting.

That rather neatly sums up both "the new iPad" and the new Apple.

Apple hasn't forgotten their roots -- they still bleed in six colors, they're just more willing to mix them up now.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

The new iPad and the new Apple


Apple will likely continue using model descriptions rather than simply the iPhone. With 3 versions, generations, of phones on sale, they need to have a way to distinguish the new version from previous year's models & why one is free, another is cheap, while a third sells for much more. Maybe Apple will adopt Good, Magical & Amazing as new designations. Those Apple guys are soooo unpredictable
Cheers !

I´m not sure the new display should draw more power than the new one, since it has the same area. The pixels are smaller, but the energy throughput should be about the same. In fact, since now we got a tiny space between pixels that was not there before, the new display could actually draw a little less power than the old one.
The naming scheme is fine if you start with it. There was never a MacBook Air 1 or 2, it was always MacBook Air. To name a product iPad 2 and follow with iPad is just confusing and it shows a certain lack of guidance and maturity, a symptom of the post Steve Jobs era.

For a post pc product, they go back to PC marketing. This is what seems odd. I do understand there will be diminishing returns starting next year. What the heck does Apple do to create hype for an ipad 4? A faster processor and perhaps front camera? Not exactly something to have an event over..
The same is happening with the iphone but it's not as bad. But it's heading there as well. Except phones usually have shorter lives and might still need that number.
What bothered me the most about the new apple is the lack of software updates. 5.1 won't exactly tempt jailbreakers. The ATV received nothing new besides a worse UI. Check out the maps used in iphoto, they're horrible.
But they hit the homerun with this ipad imo. That resolution is absolutely amazing and still at the old price. You've never seen a screen like this. Quad core graphics, better cameras, double the RAM, LTE and still the same price. That's an amazing upgrade.
It's really hilarious to see people disappointed with this. It just shows their ignorance. Does it take a redesign each year to impress the clueless these days? That's retarded. Be disappointed then, because the screen is as good as it gets for a long time...that and processor are far the most important pieces of the hardware. I doubt you ever see another update this significant.
It'd be nice if the ones crying about minor updates or disappointment would like to explain just what it is they're looking for? If debuting the best looking screen ever made doesn't impress, then what the heck will?

It needs to look different. If people can't tell I have the newest iPad what is the point of having one? They should release a new color every year just so people will be able to tell I have the new version.

While I did not expect more than Apple showed, I understand when people get disapointed at these keynotes, and it's Apple's fault. Apple marketing worked hard to build this image of the amazing magical revolutionary innovator, that would amaze at every turn, and build devices that were never seen before or since. Well, that might work at the onset, but any company, and specially Apple, is subject to R&D department of others, and in time innovations start to dwindle.
Take this retina display for instance. Apple had to wait until someone like Sharp ot Toshiba actually developed the display so Apple could call it their own. Or LTE, Apple had to wait until it was mature.

The problem is defining what is unrealistic. I bet that no one in the week prior to a keynote can define that. Afterwards it gets pretty easy.

For all the hype that went into this and not so much from Apple but from sites as this one it turned out to be really a non-event.
Sure they increased a few things on the iPad but I thought after a year that they would have introduced some mind blowing features that would have kept the distance between them and the other manafactures at least a year apart, but this was'nt to be.
The electronics of this new form of computing is going to have to get smaller with a lot more horsepower if there going to ever win people over since I'm not sold on the fact that Tim was try to convey on Wednesday that this a a game changer. It isn't I am sorry to say.

"Increased a few things" is a bit of an understatement (did you expect it to be able to fly, perhaps ? :))
The unmatched resolution on that display will set them apart for a while, I think, especially at that price. And what a year for sales its been!

Did you really want them to name it the iPad 3 with 4G? Or the iPad 4G without the G? or iPad G3 4G? or iPad HD + or HD Extreme?

What's so wrong with plain iPad 3?
It would be highly marketable, and in line with everything else Apple has been doing.

Don't get me wrong. But the hardware upgrade is great. Far ahead pass the other tablet makers. The one real disappoint was not real new software features. As with new gestures or something that Samsung or Motorola would never think about adding to their devices. The hardware dot always have too be top of the line. It's always seem too be the user interface what techies and regular users seem to enjoy most.

Whatever new software features you're waiting for will have to wait till iOS6. My gut tells me this will be a big release.

There are two features I want... and Android has always had them (I think)... multiple email signatures for multiple email accounts and the ability to attach files from the email application. No jailbreak, no hacky programs -- I want the real deal. It seems so obvious when looking at the way iOS handles emailing...
For real -- is that asking for too much? If they want to be the "go-to" for business users, these are pretty pertinent features to have if you ask me (or my affiliates).

so i can see it now:
Question: So u got a new iPad?
Response: Yes, i got the new iPad.
Question: So which one, the iPad 3?
Response: No, the new iPad i told you...
Question: Not the iPad 3, you took the deal on the iPad 2, great... but if it was me i would have got the new iPad 3.
Response: ughh

Why should this be any different than when they release new a iMac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air? They don't have identifiers. I would imagine if that kind of conversation occurs (which actually happened to me today), people say "I have the late 2011 edition".

The same thing they did with MacOS. I sure as hell would line up to get the iPad X, or X2. By the time you get that far away, people don't remember the iPad 2, since they'll all be so antiquated, and probs broken, so you actually can refresh the naming scheme. Right now, you've already got an iPad AND an iPad 2 in the wild, which makes for a hell of a lot of confusion by the idiots they're hoping to sell to (the intelligent people have already picked a tablet, apple or not).

I truly hope that Apple does not tease iOS 6 in June and make us wait four months to get it along with the release of the next iPhone. That was ridiculous and gruesome. Put the hardward and software updates together, for goodness sakes! By the time we got iOS 5, it was terribly old news in an every evolving smart phone landscape.

"The new" iPad sounds awkward because we're used to iPad plus number. When Apple switched the naming system from Powerbook to Macbook, I thought the new name sounded atrocious. It's just change. In reality, the new iPad makes sense. I'm a huge Apple fan, obviously. I've already had a few friends ask if I'd ordered the new iPad - not that they were intentionally using the name. It's just what people say.
I prefer iPad numbering, but that's because it's what I'm used to. Then again, my Mac Mini isn't a Mac Mini 9 (or whatever version the latest is). It's just a Mac Mini.

I can't help but think with that picture of the retro Apple logo - and the "2012 - a lot to look forward to" stuff that Apple is teasing that there's changes ahead. That it's reimaging itself.

I am surprised by the number of people extolling the greatness of the new ipad. Do not get me wrong, the display appears to be stunning ("appears" because i am yet to have eyes on one) and it has a new quad core gpu (needed fpr the display). Other than that it appears to have only been brought up to a level of spec in line with other tablets. Its gotten a little thicker around the middle and put on weight.
This thing will sell like hot cakes because of Apples great marketing dept/budget and the hype generated by the media but imo a new screen, gpu and rear camera do little for this product.

I ordered one and although the display is nicer, i generally wanted the latest version and would have bought it with the older IPAD2 display.

Next up - the Macs will get retina displays.
I ordered my third gen iPad and hopefully will be here Friday. I will give my first-gen iPad to someone else in the family - who would be happy with any of them.

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