Apple Unveils iPad 2, New Version of Mobile OS

Apple has announced that it will ship the new dual-core iPad 2 next week.

At a San Francisco event on Wednesday, the company unveiled the second generation of the iOS-based mobile device. The new version will feature a significant processor upgrade, as well as have new multimedia capabilities. It will also be lighter and thinner than the first version, while retaining its 10-hour battery life, the company said.

Based on Apple's new dual-core, 1 GHz A5 processor, which replaces the single-core A4 of the first-generation iPad, the new model has significant improvements in both CPU and graphics performance, according to Apple. It retains the same 9.7-inch, 1,024 x 768 screen as its predecessor, but is "33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter," Apple reported. It also will include a front-facing VGA (640 x 480) camera and a rear-facing camera capable of capturing 720p/30 video.

Other new features include:

  • Built-in gyroscope.
  • Support for FaceTime personal video conferencing.
  • 5x digital zoom on the rear-facing camera.
  • Support for AT&T and Verizon 3G (on 3G-capable models).
  • HSUPA support (for 3G models).
  • HDMI video mirroring with HD output (via optional adapter).

The iPad 2 will run on iOS 4.3, which Apple also unveiled today. The latest release of the mobile operating system includes an enhanced, better-performing version of Apple's Safari Web browser with the Nitro JavaScript engine; additional options for using the side switch (such as rotation locking); and improvements to iTunes and AirPlay.

According to Apple, "The Nitro JavaScript engine that Apple pioneered on the desktop is now built into WebKit, the technology at the heart of Safari, and more than doubles the performance of JavaScript execution using just-in-time compilation. With the Nitro JavaScript engine, Safari provides an even better mobile browser experience working faster to support the interactivity of complex sites you visit on a daily basis."

In addition, iOS 4.3 adds support for "personal hotspots," allowing users to share their cellular connections with up to five devices, though the availability of this feature will vary with the user's data plan. Users can share a connection in combinations that can include up to three devices via Wi-Fi, up to three via Bluetooth, and one via wired USB, but no more than five total.

The iPad 2 is expected to be available March 11 in black or white. The base Wi-Fi model, with 16 GB RAM, will run $499. The top-end model, with 64 GB RAM and support for both Wi-Fi and 3G, will run $829. Other configurations are also available with and without 3G. Further information can be found here.

About the Author

Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters.