iPad 2: Super Sequel

on Wednesday, Mar. 2nd

If there is one bit of frustrating news out of Apple today regarding the iPad 2 it’s this: that those of us not at the launch event today will have to wait until the 11th to get our hands on one. While the “Friday after next” release date is swift by any realistic standard, the hype surronding the second coming of Apple’s tablet computer suggested we might get one of those classic Steve Jobs moments. You know, the one’s where he says those magic words “and it’s available today.”

If you’ve been holding off to get the second generation (like a certain reporter I know) then you’re not likely to be disappointed with the highlights of this hardware refresh.

  • Front and rear facing cameras
  • New dual-core A5 processor
  • 33% thinner body- making it thinner than the iPhone 4.

That last stat is a doozy and bears repeating: the new iPad is thinner than the most recent version of the iPhone. Jobs calls the device “mind blowing”, and I’ll cop to that fact. Everyone was expecting a refinement of the engineering, but at the rate we’re going Apple designer Jonathan Ive is going to find some way to make this stuff work out of thin air.

Apple showed off spiffy new cases and some iPad ports of video and audio editing software, but didn’t haul out a bunch of partners as it sometimes has in the past. Which is a shame, as I’m keen to see how augmented reality apps (like Word Lens) look on this thing. Given that Apple appears to have scheduled this announcement in San Francisco to drown out the Nintendo keynote address at the Games Developer Conference literally next door at Moscone Center I was expecting more on that front.

Nintendo’s new 3DS portable system is pushing AR apps as one of their big selling points. The new hand held system will come with an AR game packed in. From a hardware standpoint the iPad2 is set up to be a spectacular augmented reality device. The rear camera and faster processor will allow for some serious data overlay action.

Sure, the press corps invited to the event has seen AR apps before, but they’ve also seen iMovie and Garageband. Perhaps AR isn’t destined to catch on in the mainstream, or maybe Apple wanted to avoid the kinds of live embarrassments they’ve had in the past when the internet service at the Yerba Buena Gardens (where they hold these events) gives out in the middle of a demo.

That missed opportunity to kick Nintendo (who is a direct competitor in the mobile gaming space) before it can get out of the gate is a bit of a surprise. What isn’t a surprise is that the Cupertino kids are setting the stage for another big opening day. Online sales won’t start for the iPad 2 until the day it is available in stores, and unlike the last iPhone release there’s no way to reserve a iPad 2 for in store pick-up ahead of time.

Well played, Jobs. Well played.

Corey McCall with the video game controller that measures the level of excitement in the player. Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

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