Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Apple today unveiled the "New iPad" and a new Apple TV; pre-order taken now, available on March 16

This post was written on the fly – apologies for any typos or other mistakes. I'll try and clean it up later in the day.

The surprises were few today at Apple's iPad introduction event, but the products unveiled – the new iPad, a new AppleTV. plus new software products and updates – all appeared to be on the upper end of the rumor scale.

The new iPad will, indeed, sport a "retina display" with double the resolution of the previous models: 2048 x 1536. Also, 4G LTE will be available as an option, running on AT&T, Verizon, Rogers, Bell, and Telus and networks.

I'm sure there will be those who express disappointment in the new iPad, but when you find them don't forget to call them idiots as I bet they are the same people who said the iPhone 4S was a disappointment, as well.

Apple will sell millions of these despite the lack of a new design, despite the lack of a price cut. The reason is simple: Apple has managed to up the most important specs for their tablet – the processor, the camera, the memory – while retaining the ecosystem that customers are now comfortable with.

The two big upgrades are the A5X processor with quad-core graphics, and the new display. The processor upgrade is absolutely necessary in order to support the higher resolution display and the larger files that will result from it. Apple usually doesn't like to play the spec game, but CEO Tim Cook mentioned the processor almost immediately.

The new, higher resolution display will cause some publishers some worrying thoughts: will my publications look good on this new tablet? For those who have thought that taking the cheaper, easier way out ... well, it was bound to happen, right?

The new 2048 x 1536 resolution shouldn't really be a production issue. An 8 x 10 photo, at 300 dpi is 2400 x 3000 pixels, after all. So for those with replica editions, your future issues should look great! But those previously released issues ... better get working on reissuing those.

One consequence of the new resolution is that Apple has increased the maximum 3G download app size limit from 20MB to 50MB.

There were lots of other goodies Apple announced at today's event – new iWork and iLife updates– but it was probably the introduction of iPhoto for iPad that will be the most important for media workers.

Photographers are already noticing that the iPad has become a great tool for proofing shots taken in the field. The new iPhoto, with its ability to handle hi-res shots up to 19 megapixels, will be an invaluable tool – and a far better one that than the crippled app released by Adobe. That app, Adobe Photoshop Touch can only handle photos up to 1600 x 1600 – nice to play around with, but hardly a professional grade tool. I criticized Adobe when it was first released, reminding readers that the new iPad would make it obsolete one week after its launch. (OK, I was wrong, with the new iPad being available March 16, it will be obsolete a couple weeks after launch.)

I suppose the lack of any additional major surprises is good news, overall, for publishers. Dealing with higher resolution apps, new requirements from vendors, may be more than enough for now. Today's event did not introduce any new operating system, and new developer requirements, etc. Apple CEO Tim Cook didn't even bother talking about new categories inside the App Store like Catalogs – way too minor to be mentioned.

But the impact, if any, of new higher resolution tablet publications won't really be noticed until they begin being released. My guess, it will be minimal. But, like the anticipation of the iPad itself, we'll see soon enough.