The tech world sits, watches, waits as Tim Cook walks on stage of what is his second major keynote as the new head of Apple to unveil the long-rumoured third incarnation of the world's most popular tablet. The iPad 3 has been heavily rumoured arguably ever since the iPad 2 finally made its way out to the world, such is the tenacity of Apple fanboys (we've fuelled the fire from time to time, it has to be said), but this evening the curtains have finally been lifted and we can welcome the device with welcome arms, fingers, voice.
Starting the keynote with the announcement of an update of Apple TV (still no news of that Apple-branded TV range) that now incorporates the 'Genius' recommendation App previously reserved for music, the new Apple TV also supports 1080p and will also be able to automatically sync with photos taken on the iPhone – no biggie there. Still, a welcome addition to Apple's ever-growing empire, but still not the reason most of us have tuned in on this cold, dreary Wednesday evening. No, the new iPad is next on the agenda.
And it's more or less what we had expected, apart from a frankly ridiculous name – 'the new iPad'. God forbid we question what Apple's marketers are up to. Revealing many of the features, form factor and look of the third iPad to co-exist alongside the reams of speculative rumours of the past few months, the new iPad features a 'Retina Display' so far triumphed by the iPhone 4S, capable of displaying a staggering 2048 x 1536 pixels (more pixels than the human eye can see, so we're told), a new quad-core A5X processor and a 5MP camera with 'auto-exposure' and 'auto-focus'. One rumour almost odds-on to be making it to the tablet is implementation of iPhone 4S's personal AI assistant 'Siri', so to see that Apple has in fact excluded Siri-like functions from iPad 3 (aside from a 'voice dictation' feature) is a big surprise. Perhaps Apple is waiting to include it somewhere down the line in a firmware update?
Sometime during the announcement of the iPad 2 a year ago, Apple flaunted the iPad 2 had twice as much graphical power as the original iPad. Now, thanks to the A5X chip, the new iPad is said to have four times the power, more than likely to ignite the competition in the hand-held gaming stakes, recently given added significance with the launch of the PlayStation Vita. Epic's Infinity Blade: Dungeons – announced during the conference - was one of the games demonstrated on-stage and, having seen the footage of the game already, shows Apple's third iPad has a mountain of memory behind it if you deemed it necessary to question the fact beforehand – Epic's president Mike Capps announced how the “new device has more memory and higher screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PS3” and that Dungeons and the Unreal Engine “[unleashes] the power of the new iPad”. Applications such as iMovie and GarageBand are also expected to be updated for the release of the tablet.
Coming in a slightly thicker (8.8mm to 9.4mm) and heavier (1.3lb to 1.4lb) package than its predecessor, the new iPad will be at retail from 16 March at the same price as the iPad 2's current retail price - £399 for 16GB WiFi, up to £649 for 64GB WiFi/3G – while that particular model is slashed to £329 for the 16GB equivalent. You’re going to want to add a hefty £100 onto the aforementioned prices if you're want to take advantage of the new iPad's 4G LTE capabilities, though with UK networks currently not using 4G connectivity, we wonder why you would, expect maybe to future-proof your new piece of gorgeously sleek, stylish tech.
Who are we kidding? The iPad 4 will be out by then! And so continues the Apple cycle...