9.7-inch Retina Screen & Quad-Core GPU
One of the most exciting changes to the iPad is the new quad-core graphic processor that allows for amazing 3D and a wide array of innovative eye candy. In order to take advantage of that high-powered GPU, Apple has provided the new iPad with a ‘resolutionary’ — their word, not ours — retina display that boasts 264 pixels per inch (ppi) and a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels.
New and Updated Apps for the iPad 3
Software is what defines any computing platform. Even when facing stiff competition from an emerging Android tablet market, the iPad has stood tall. The operating system (iOS) and the apps are simply the most usable, powerful and tablet-specific solutions on the market.
So it comes as little surprise that along with the new iPad, Apple and third-party developers are introducing a host of new iPad apps as well as upgrades to preexisting apps. Most of these enhancements exist to take advantage of the new retina display and the AX5 CPU with quad-core graphics. With this in mind, let’s explore these new apps, and examine how they take advantage of the new hardware.
It’s worth noting that all iPad apps will automatically scale to the resolution of the new device. The iPad and iPad 2 use a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels at 132 ppi, and the new iPad HD is simple twice that amount across the board. So why is that important? Well, it means that all of those iPad apps you already own will continue to work just as you expect them to, and apps don’t necessarily need an update in order to get the most out of the new hardware.
One more point before we dive into the apps: This evolution of the iPad isn’t happening through the hardware alone. In fact, iOS 5.1 will launch with the iPad HD as well, and of course, it will support all other i-devices. This iOS upgrade includes refinements and increased stability, better support for iCloud, and enhancements and new features for the built-in apps. We’ll discuss those aspects in the appropriate sections below.
App Store Catalog Section
On the eve of the new iPad launch, Apple added a “Catalogs” section to the App Store. The addition of a new section is a rare happening at the App Store, and the purposes of this one is to host interactive, high-resolution shopping catalogs that take advantage of the new retina display. Apple has already moved a number of catalog apps into the section, and many new items are expected to arrive shortly.
Camera is the built-in app that lets users take advantage of the cameras that have been on board since the iPad 2. The third-gen iPad boasts a five-megapixel iSight camera with a five-element, backside-illuminated lens, IR filter, plane switching and automatic face detection, exposure lock and focus lock. The redesigned Camera app takes advantages of these features, the new features of the retina display, and it has some new features of its own, such as stabilization technology.
HD Video Recorder
The iSight is a webcam too, and it can record in glorious full 1080p HD. The new built-in HD recorder app also has video stabilization technology, and that automatically removes the bumps and shakes that are otherwise difficult to avoid when recording video with the iPad. In addition, many of the HD video apps that are already available for the Apple iPhone 4S will automatically take advantage of the new iPad.
Autodesk Sketchbook Ink
Sketchbook Ink is one of the apps that Apple used to show the third-gen iPad off when they introduced it. It’ll be available in April, a couple of weeks after Apple starts selling the new iPad. The focus of Sketchbook Ink is line art, and Autodesk has developed it specifically to take advantage of the new A5X iPad processor. The demonstration was particularly impressive, and the artist was able to have fine line control with just their fingertip. In addition, Sketchbook Ink can export images at densities greater than 100 megapixels.
Newspapers & Magazines
Rather than talk about a specific app here, we want to talk about how text on the retina display will affect all reading apps, and then in a moment, we’ll look specifically at iBooks 2. Text on the new retina display is amazingly crisp and clear. In fact, there’s never been another display like it on a tablet or e-reader. This will have an immediate impact on all existing reading apps. In addition, new apps will be able to take particular advantage of the display. Eventually, even glossy-style magazines will be able to publish digital editions that are just as clear and beautiful as the print editions are.
Even though most consumers don’t have their third-gen iPad yet, the new version of iBooks is already available, and it’s designed to take full advantage of the 2,048 x 1,536 9.7-inch screen. In addition to the visual tweaks, iBooks 2 boasts new features, such as touch to highlight, and refined page search that unites both e-book and print layouts. A core goal of iBooks 2 is to “reinvent the textbook,” and it does that with support for advanced navigation, interactive animations, diagrams, 3D models, videos and images that the user can manipulate.
The iWork software is the Apple platform for advanced documents, spreadsheets and presentations for both Mac OS X and iOS. While the new iWork does include many new features and refinements, its primary goal is to take advantage of the new retina display. One way that it does that is through support of 3D charts that the user can manipulate in order to move through and around the data. For users who already own the iWork app, the upgrade to the new version is free.
The Pages app is a design studio that includes a streamlined and intuitive word processor and page layout editor. As we mentioned earlier concerning magazines and newspapers, use of the retina display has an immediate effect in that the text is simply crisper and clearer. It also provides great benefit in page layout, and the pages actually look and “feel” like pages in a real magazine. The Pages app also gets iCloud integration, including iCloud sync, and support for the full array of 3D charts.
The Numbers app is a spreadsheet solution with support for formulas, dynamic tables, dynamic charts and templates. This new version also has support for stunning 3D area, bar, line and pie charts. Users will now be able to create professional print-ready documents right on their iPad. The app also has numerous table features that take better advantage of the new screen, and it has better control for multiple spreadsheets on a single screen. Numbers also has iCloud integration and iCloud sync support.
Keynote is a tool for creating presentations, similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. On iOS, Keynote has always been limited by the graphic power of the first-gen iPad and then the iPad 2. Now, creators have an array of new options, and they’ll actually be able to create presentations that are aesthetically worthy of publication in a professional magazine. In addition to support for 3D charts, Keynote also provides the ability to animate them. It also boasts a wide range of new sophisticated transitions, and it has iCloud integration and iCloud sync support.
The iLife software is a suite of applications designed by Apple to edit, organize and publish music, movies and photos. The new version is already available, ahead of the third-gen iPad launch. The three core components of the iLife suite are iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand. They each include iCloud integration and support for iCloud sync, and we’ll dig into the specifics in the appropriate sections below.
GarageBand is an app the lets users create music and podcasts. One of GarageBand’s most distinctive features is its selection of virtual software instruments, which allow the user to record music by playing virtual instruments. Although great, this feature has always been limited to some degree by the lack of clarity on the iPad 2 and first-gen iPad screen. With the retina display, the instruments are precise, and that’s particularly helpful in some scenarios, such as strumming guitar strings.
The iMovie app by Apple is video editing software. Originally designed for editing home movies, iMovie has evolved into a sophisticated video editing suite. In the newest version (iMovie 1.3), the biggest addition to the technology is movie trailer creation. The iMovie app also includes a major update aspect that takes advantage of the retina display, and it includes features specifically for use with the new screen. Like all iLife apps, for those who already iMovie, the new version is a free upgrade.
Apple iPhoto, a digital photography suite, is software that has only been available for the Mac, until now. This version allows users to sort, search and edit photos with just gestures. Although designed specifically for the third-gen iPad, it will work on the iPad 2, and the first-gen iPad in limited fashion. In addition to iCloud integration, it also has support for photo journals. According to Apple, iPhoto for iOS is so sophisticated that it will be the portable tool of choice for professional photographers.
An aspect of iCloud, Photo Stream is a cloud-based service that automatically pushes your one-thousand most recent photos to the cloud, and it doesn’t count against your storage limit. With iOS 5.1, Photo Stream gets a number of refinements, including being able to delete photos, which gives you some control over which photos are available.
FaceTime is Apple’s video calling software for iOS and Mac OS X. It’s a built-in app with iOS, and with the iPad, it uses the front-facing camera. It also has the option for switching to the rear camera, the iSight on the new iPad, which lets the party on the other end see what you’re seeing.
The iTunes U service provides an educated-oriented iTunes experience. The service controls, manages and distributes access to educational content, including audio, text and video. The new version of iTunes U fully supports the higher resolution of the new iPad retina display for all existing content.
Apple Cards is a free, but not built-in, app that launched with iOS 5, and it supports all versions of the iPad. The app lets you snap a photo with the iPad, design a card around it, and then have the card automatically printed and mailed. Each card costs $2.99 when mailed in the US. The advantage of using the new iPad over previous versions is that the image used as the card base is MUCH higher quality.
Sky, Blinkbox and Crackle
Sky is a UK digital satellite television service, and soon after the Apple iPad announcement, it announced that it would be broadcasting all video, including major sports coverage, to the iPad app in 1080p. During the launch event, Apple reps specifically referred to Blinkbox and Crackle when discussing services that would offer 1080p streaming immediately. Both are popular on-demand streaming services for movies and television programs.
Sky Gamblers Air Supremacy
Sky Gamblers Air Supremacy by Namco Bandai is one of the two video games that Apple used to flaunt the new iPad’s power. Sky Gamblers is a 3D dogfighting game that uses a combination of touch and gyroscopic controls. An example of the gyroscopic control is shaking the iPad to cause the pilot to eject. During one battle scene, there were at least 50 enemy fighters on screen, and the new iPad continued to run smooth.
Infinity Blade: Dungeons
The other game was Infinity Blade: Dungeons, by Epic Games and Chair Entertainment. The game boasts stunning 3D graphics, and although details were few, it looks to be a Diablo or rogue-like game with an emphasis on dungeon crawling. It uses a dynamic camera system, and boasts a cinematic-intense presentation. As the developer from Chair said, the iPad HD has more memory and a higher resolution than either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
The good news is that Siri is coming to the iPad HD. The bad news is that it isn’t a full-blown implementation, and it doesn’t perform voice recognition. However, it does perform voice dictation in American, British and Australian English, French, German, and Japanese, a language just added to the iPad repertoire. Don’t give up hope: A full Siri implementation is in the works, and it will be available in a subsequent iOS update.