It’s difficult to get excited about Apple’s product announcements due to the overwhelming flow of rumours and leaks in the tech press leading up to the events, and the new iPad managed to be about as surprising as the iPhone 4S. There wasn’t a single hardware feature announced today that hadn’t already been blogged about extensively over the last few weeks, including the Retina display, A5X chip and even 4G LTE. This is made worse by false rumours of crazy, magical features that are really unlikely but also so cool that we can’t help but hope they turn out to be true. Tech journalists’s wet dreams and brain farts for iPad feature ideas quickly spread across the blogs and news sites to become facts from a source familiar with the matter.
I don’t remember major product announcements from Apple being this underwhelming in the past – new features were actually a surprise. Blog posts and news articles used to be focussing on the innovation of the new features rather than the we-told-you-so’s I saw being posted after the announcement today. I don’t know whether this is due to tech journalists getting better at digging for details or if Apple is gradually becoming a leaky ship rather than the water-tight vessel it used to be.
But just because the features were expected, doesn’t mean they were any less impressive. I would have bought the new iPad if the only improvement was the Retina display. A resolution higher than the HDTV in my living room on a screen smaller than 10″ is going to look amazing. Every time I test an app on an old iPhone 3GS I cringe at how we used to think that display looked good. I can’t wait to have that same feeling about the iPad 2.
The A5X chips is also a mouth-watering prospect. We’re currently working on some pretty exciting OpenGL based apps at The OTHER Media, but we are finding that we are running out of GPU power on the iPad 2 to really create the effects we want. I can’t wait to have four GPU cores to throw polygons at.
The other two major features, LTE and iSight camera, don’t really float my boat. My existing iPad 2 is Wi-Fi only and, as far as I am aware, there aren’t any 4G carriers in the UK yet. And I never felt particularly comfortable holding a big slab of glass and metal at arms length to take a photo, I don’t think a 5MP camera will change that. Especially when I have an iPhone 4S in my pocket with the same camera.
The last thing that surprised me about today’s announcement was that not a single tech journalist or analyst managed to correctly guess the new iPad’s name. I never thought it was going to be called iPad HD, and actually thought iPad 2S was more likely than iPad 3 if they stuck with the same form factor, but I was shocked when Apple displayed this slide during the keynote:
The new iPad doesn’t have a name! It’s just the new iPad. It seems Apple want to phase out the numbers and move towards a system more like that used with the iPods and Macs. But while the iPad 2 still exists, the current iPad will clumsily be known as “The new iPad”. This could cause all sorts of problems, like when you want to sell your iPad on eBay in a years time do you list it as a ‘Used new iPad’? Or if Apple want to sell a ‘Refurbished new iPad’. People might ask their friends who have just bought an iPad 2, “Is that a new iPad?”, to which they would probably incorrectly answer “Yes”. Will the next iPad be called “The new new iPad”?
I’m guessing that once the masses are aware there is a new iPad and the iPad 2 is long forgotten, the new model will just become known as the 3rd generation. In fact, Apple are already using this term when you buy an iPad from the online store:
Now if Apple would be so kind as to bring the UK online store back up, I would like to pre-order my new iPad.