I thought I would write some opinions on yesterday’s iPad 2 announcement. These are my personal opinions and may not have any great value.
I think in terms of the hardware, much of what was announced was expected. It seems that cameras were pretty much guaranteed given the desire to get FaceTime on as many devices as possible. From what I’ve seen, it is not exactly clear what the resolution of the rear facing camera is, but given that I don’t think one would want to take photographs with an iPad, the main driver would be the ability to do FaceTime where you show your surroundings as video. We have become very used to Apple producing thinner and lighter devices, but I suspect that rather like when the iPod Touch came out, it will feel “impossibly thin”. Again the improvements to the processor and the graphics are somewhat expected, although it would appear that the graphics is significantly enhanced (which may be a precursor to a future enhancement to a screen with increased resolution).
In terms of my experience with the iPad, the addition of the cameras and Face Time would have changed my use in the past. Until recently I had been working away from home and every evening would bring up iChat on my MacBook for when my partner might contact me. Consequently I would eat my evening meal with the MacBook on the table in front of me while usually watching a video podcast or streaming a television programme recorded via my Elgato EyeTV USB stick on my MacMini. The only reason for not using the iPad was iChat. If I were in the similar situation with an iPad 2, the MacBook would stay in the study and it would be the iPad that would be carried around with me in the evening, except when wanting to do more serious computing work.
In many ways, I think the software enhancements are as important as the hardware upgrades. The extension of “Home Sharing” to the iPad so that it can stream media from iTunes libraries (just like the Apple TV 2) will certainly be useful to me, particularly with video podcasts. I’m now typically watching these through my Apple TV streamed from my MacBook, but I also have them synced to my iPad. However, as I only sync my iPad about once a week, one loses track of what has been watched rather easily. Simply not syncing but streaming from a single iTunes library will be far more consistent. Indeed, I can see that in the future if one only uses an iPad at home, then syncing will only really be necessary for software upgrades. In my case I often travel with the iPad, but the only time to sync will be before and after travelling.
The improvements to AirPlay are also significant though not unexpected. This gives much more flexibility to push stuff on to the television via Apple TV or video through an Airport Express (which I use a lot).
The inclusion of the new iMovie application for the iPad was inevitable given its existence on the iPhone 4 and the presence of the cameras on the iPad. Garageband signals that Apple definitely doesn’t think of the iPad as just a device for consumption, but then many other application developers clearly see the ability of the iPad to be a useful creative device, as is evidenced by the many musical instrument applications and other creative tools.
I shall not be in the market for an iPad 2 — it is less than a year since I bought my iPad when it came out in the UK, and I shall probably be looking forward to the iPad 3, but the software enhancements will benefit me and all the other iPad owners.
The one sad aspect is that according to the Apple website, the new version of iOS is not available for the iPod Touch second generation. This means that in my household with an iPad, and a first and second generation iPod Touch, I shall be running three different versions of iOS. Perhaps fragmentation isn’t only an Android problem!