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iPad 2 Graphic

Lauren Biron/MEDILL

Much has changed about the iPad 2 - but many aspects remain the same. Green squares show improvements in the tablet, while purple icons represent a lack of change in the newest generation of Apple's iconic device.

Apple bears colorful new fruit: iPad 2 unveiled

by Lauren Biron
March 02, 2011

ipadtwo 2

Lauren Biron/MEDILL

The iPad 2 will work much like the original version, but a dual-core processor should speed up graphics and enhance user experience. Other added features include a gyroscope, new apps and dual cameras that can FaceTime with other Apple products.

ipadtwo 3

Lauren Biron/MEDILL

The iPad 2 is set to hit stores such as the one on Michigan Avenue on March 11.

Apple fanatics and tech junkies can start salivating freely – Steve Jobs personally revealed the iPad 2 in a media preview this morning in San Francisco, and the tablet will ship within the United States on March 11.

“We think 2011 is the year of the iPad 2,” Jobs said.

The new iPad includes a forward-facing camera for FaceTime, a rear-facing camera for photographs and video, and a dual-core graphics chip for nine times faster processing.

The company updated the tablet’s operating system to iOS4.3, allowing JavaScript to run at twice the speed. The iPad 2 also comes with Photo Booth, the popular camera system that runs on Apple’s laptops.

“Having built in all this stuff, one of the striking things about the iPad 2 is that's dramatically thinner,” Jobs said. “Thirty-three percent thinner.” That makes it slimmer than the iPhone 4.

But perhaps the biggest change for the tablet is not technological. Fans of the iconic Apple color scheme will now have the option of a white iPad 2.

“We're shipping white from day one," Jobs said.

The previous iPad was only available in black, a source of irritation for Apple purists and people everywhere who like white things. However, others considering the new tablet, such as Denver teacher Gala Camacho, 24, said the color didn’t matter.

“Black or white or pink or blue – it only attracts 11-year-olds,” she said in an interview inside the Michigan Avenue Apple Store. “It’s not something that would keep me from buying a good piece of technology.”

Jobs unveiled an HDMI output that will display the entire workspace of the tablet on an external screen. He also introduced a new style of case that magnetically clips to the screen, cleans it and puts the tablet into sleep mode.

Bloggers had handily predicted all of these new features in a typical fit of Applemania, speculating based on everything from leaked images to Best Buy barcodes. But loyal Apple customers did not seem disappointed with the new tablet. Thomas Lane, 41, of Springfield, Mo. owns both a MacBook and an iPhone, said he will be excited to purchase the lighter, thinner iPad to use for travel and work.

“It pretty much meets my expectations,” he said. “The intuitive use of Mac products is one of the biggest selling points.”

Despite the improved features, there was no hint that the iPad 2 would support Flash-based programs, which add interactive and multimedia components to many websites. Motorola’s Xoom, a leading tablet competitor named Best of Show at the Consumer Electronics Show, runs Flash and shares many of the same features as the iPad2. However, as Jobs pointed out, the Google Android app store only has 100 dedicated apps, while there are some 65,000 dedicated Apple apps.

The iPad 2 will cost the same as the original iPad, delighting artists such as Terry Tyner, of Chicago, a 50-year-old who plans to showcase his videos and music in the new tablet. The price, he said, “is beautiful.” The iPad 2 starts at $499, the same as the first generation.

The new Apple tablet will run on both Verizon and AT&T 3G networks.

In addition to the improved features and accessories on the iPad 2, another highlight of the preview was the sight of Jobs himself, who returned from a medical leave to present the new tablet.

“We've been working on this project for a while, and I just didn't want to miss this," he said.

Representatives at the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue predict that there will be a large crowd at their door when the iPad 2 becomes available in stores at 5 p.m. on March 11.