John Paczkowski

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Apple iPad Event Liveblog

After months of feverish speculation and as many years of wishful thinking, Apple uncrated its tablet computer–the iPad–at an invitation-only event in San Francisco this morning.

Liveblog

9:13 am PT: Quite a scene here this morning; the queue for media credentials is nearly as long as some of the iPhone 3G launch lines I saw a few years back. Moments ago, an Apple PR rep slipped through the doors of the Yerba Buena Center to ask that the press waiting outside take two big steps back. The last time that happened to me, I was at a Jesus Lizard show.

Crowd outside Apple Special Event

9:54 am: The doors open and the press enters the event hall. Initially, at least, the scene is pretty crazy. “This is like the subway in New York,” an attendee behind me jokes. More like the subway in Tokyo, I think to myself.

A Bob Dylan soundtrack plays as media and guests file in. It’s momentarily interrupted by a “please take your seats, our event is about to begin” announcement.

10:00 am: Interesting stage set-up today: Instead of an empty stage or a simple table, there are a black leather chair and side-table. Lights are dimming….

And Steve Jobs takes the stage to a standing ovation.

“We want to kick off 2010 by introducing a truly magical product, but first a few updates….A few weeks ago we sold our 250 millionth iPod…I didn’t want to let that moment pass without recognizing it.”

10:05 am: Jobs offers a quick overview of Apple’s retail operations and some of the new stores it has opened recently before moving on to the iTunes App Store. “A few weeks ago we announced that three billion applications had been downloaded from the App Store–that’s in 18 months…amazing.”
He notes, as he did in the company’s earnings release the other day, that Apple is now a $50 billion company.

Apple is a mobile devices company, says Jobs, “the largest mobile devices company in the world now. Larger than Sony’s mobile device business, larger than Samsung’s and, astonishingly, Nokia’s as well.”

10:07 am: A quick historical overview now. Jobs touches on the first PowerBook, introduced in 1991. He moves on to the MacBook and then the iPhone.

Steve and Steve

“All of us use laptops and smartphones, now. And the question has arisen lately: Is there room for a device in the middle?…We’ve pondered this question as well.”

This “middle” device, says Jobs, must be better at doing certain tasks than either the laptop or smartphone. If there’s going to be a third-device category, it must be better at browsing the Web, video, photos, music, etc.

“Some folks say this device is a netbook…. The problem is, netbooks aren’t better at anything.”

10:10 am: But we have something that is, says Jobs, “and it’s called the iPad.”

Photos of the device appear on the giant screens. Very thin. Very slick. “IPad offers the best Web browsing experience there is–way better than laptops.” There is no camera that I can see. That’s not going to go over well with folks hoping for a device that supports video iChat.

10:13 am: Further details: The “iPad is a dream to type on,” Jobs says, pointing out its life-sized onscreen keyboard. It’s also an awesome way to enjoy media. iTunes, iTunes University and YouTube HD support are built in.

10:14 am: Jobs sits down to demo the device: “Using this thing is remarkable. It’s so much more intimate and capable than the laptop.” He loads Safari and surfs over to the New York Times (NYT). The iPad loads quickly and Jobs is able to easily navigate the page, loading stories and zooming in on articles.

10:15 am: Demonstrating landscape and portrait now. “This device adapts to the way I want to use it.”

Definitely an impressive browsing experience. Fast and elegant.

Now, an overview of Mail. Also elegant. Nice split-screen presentation. Hit compose, and a nice onscreen keyboard pops up. Jobs types out a message to his colleagues at Apple. Seems relatively easy.

10:19 am: Moving on to iPad’s photo capabilities. It supports iPhoto’s Events, Faces and Places features. It also offers built-in slideshows complete with soundtracks and transitions.

Running a slideshow demo, Jobs pauses and looks out at the audience with a Chesire Cat-wide grin. He’s clearly relishing this moment.

iPad

10:22 am:: The iTunes experience on iPad is much as you would expect. Similar, if not identical, to what the software currently offers. Calendar and Contacts apps are also nice and, again, similar to what you’d find on a MacBook or iPhone.

10:24 am: Demoing Google Maps now. The iPad supports Google Street View and the implementation is very slick.

10:25 am: Moving on to video. Jobs calls up an HD clip from Google’s (GOOG) YouTube and displays it in both portrait and landscape. That finished, he fires up iTunes and loads “Star Trek” to demo the device’s video features, scrubbing, etc. Then he shows us a clip from Pixar’s “Up.” Tap to go full-screen. “Isn’t that wonderful?”

10:27 am: Watching that is nothing like actually having one in your hands, says Jobs.

  • iPad is one-half-inch thick, weighs 1.5 pounds, and comes with 9.7 inch IPS display–“very high-quality display”
  • Full capacitive multitouch
  • 16GB-64GB flash storage
  • iPad is powered by our Apple’s custom silicon–“We did it inhouse and it just screams,” says Jobs.
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, accelerometer, compass.
  • Battery life: 10 hours.

“And in addition to 10 hours of battery life, iPad offers a full month of standby time,” Jobs notes. “It’s also a good environmental citizen,” he adds, noting that it’s a very green device.

10:31 am: Jobs invites Scott Forestall to the stage to talk about apps on the device.

“We built the iPad to run virtually every app in the App Store right out of the box,” Forestall says.

Evidently, a built-in pixel-doubling feature automatically scales iPhone apps to full-screen iPad apps.

10:35 am: Forestall runs an unmodified racing game from the App Store. He first demos it in the screen size of an iPhone. Then, using the pixel-doubling feature, he blows it out to full screen. Very slick.

“So you can buy the iPad, take it home, hook it up and download all your iPhone apps and run them with no problem at all,” he says.

Forestall announces a new iPhone software development kit specifically geared to the iPad. He notes that iPad-specific applications will be featured “front and center” in the App Store.
He then invites Gameloft’s Mark Hickey to the stage to demo some new games the company has developed using the new SDK.

Hickey notes that the iPad’s additional screen space is a boon for developers, particularly those building games. He demos a first-person shooter that showcases this. “We’re now able to interact with the game world in ways that we weren’t able to before.”

10:40 am: Next up, the New York Times. Martin Nisenholtz takes the stage to talk about its iPad effort.

After talking up the Times iPhone app, Nisenholtz segues to the the paper’s new iPad app: “We think we’ve captured the experience and essence of reading the newspaper.”

The app is largely what you’d expect. Tap to resize text, zoom, breaking news updates, video. “This is everything you love about the paper and everything you love about the Web.”

10:44 am: Now, a painting application called Brushes that was famously used to create a New Yorker cover.
The app is impressive enough on iPhone; it’s even more so on the iPad. It supports “playback” of paintings, and as the presenter notes, brings us one step closer to a real virtual painting studio.

Brushes

10:46 am: EA’s Travis Boatman take’s the stage. The topic of his presentation: Need For Speed.

“Building for the iPad is a little bit like holding a high-def TV screen a few inches from your face,” he says.

The iPad version of Need for Speed boasts a number of touch-activated enhancements: Tap on the car to view its interior, tap on the rear-view mirror to look behind you.

10:52 am: Up next: MLB.com’s Chad Evans. He demos the outfit’s iPad-optimized app, which uses the device’s additional screen space to display video excerpts and MLB TV.

MLB TV can be streamed like and enhanced with onscreen stats and data. “This big display really allows us to create a much more immersive experience,” Evans says.

10:52 am: Forestall returns to the stage to make another brief plug for the SDK before Jobs takes over for him.
“Let me show you another one of our apps that we’re very excited about,” Jobs says. “An e-book reader.”

Behind him a photo of Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle appears. “Amazon did a great job with their reader and we’re standing on their shoulders here….Today we’re announcing the iBooks store,” says Jobs, adding that it will be supported initially by Penguin, Simon & Schuster and a number of other big publishers.

The iBooks Store interface begins with a simple bookshelf view. Tap the screen and it loads a more iTunes-like view. Purchase a book and it’s added to your bookshelf with a slick little animation.

The reading experience seems very appealing. Much more book-like. From where I sit, the pages look like they’re written on paper.

“We use the e-pub format, the most popular open-book format in the world,” says Jobs. “We think iPad is going to be a very popular e-reader not just for bestsellers, but for textbooks as well.”

10:58 am: And here’s another new product announcement: A new version of iWork tweaked for use on the iPad. Jobs invites Phil Schiller on stage to demo it.

“We have a completely new version of Keynote, a completely new version of Pages and a completely new version of Numbers–all optimized for multitouch.

iBooks

Schiller demos Keynote first. Creating presentations appears intuitive and simple–a slide navigator on the left, tap to load individual slides in the main window, drag to rearrange.

Nice use of multitouch gestures to enhance the app. Pinch to resize photos, tap to insert animations and transitions. These are all fairly advanced techniques and the device seems to handle them well.

11:05 am: Moving on to Pages now. Also impressive, though creating a written document on a tablet device like the iPad seems like it might be a drag. A nice tool for editing, though. Simple controls.

iWork

11:07 am: Moving on to Numbers. This application also makes good use of multitouch gestures and boasts a data-entry keyboard along with some 250 built-in functions. The software’s gesture capabilities makes Excel look antediluvian.
Powerful and fast.

So what’s Apple going to charge for iWork? $9.99 each, says Schiller, who notes that all three applications are compatible with their Mac versions.

Jobs returns to the stage, grinning. “Isn’t that great?” he asks for what’s easily the 10th time. iPad, he says, will synch to Mac or PC via USB.

11:14 am: Evidently, there will be two iPad models–one with Wi-Fi-only and one with Wi-Fi and 3G. The 3G device will come with two plans: 250 MB per month for $14.99, unlimited data for $29.99.

And who’s the carrier? AT&T.

A small groan ripples through the audience.

Jobs allows that AT&T is also throwing in free Wi-Fi at its hotspots. He follows that up by noting that there are no contracts for the iPad. You can cancel at anytime.

iPad

All iPad 3G models are unlocked and they use new GSM micro SIMS, so chances are they will just work, Jobs says, after noting that Apple hasn’t yet worked out international carrier deals.

11:16 am: Now a quick overview as a wrap-up. Jobs touts the overall tablet experience along with the new iBook app and iBook Store. “This is an amazing product with tremendous breadth. What should we charge for it?…When we set out to develop the iPad we not only had aggressive UI goals, we had aggressive price goals, because we wanted to put this in the hands of as many people as possible….IPad pricing starts not at $999, but $499,” Jobs says to a huge round of applause.

$499 for 16GB base model.
32GB for $599.
64GB for $699.
Adding 3G requires an additional fee.

Apple will ship Wi-Fi models in 60 days and 3G models in 90.

11:20 am: Apple has created new accessories for the iPad: A standard dock and a second dock with a keyboard attached to it. “Keep one of these in your den and you can write the next “War and Peace” on it.” The final accessory, a new case that doubles as a stand.

Running a video now. It features a number of Apple execs enthusiastically talking up the iPad.

iPad Pricing

11:25 am: Let me circle back here for a moment to pricing. Adding 3G to iPad requires an additional $130. So we’re talking $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB and $829 for the 64GB version.

Designer Jon Ives on the iPad: “In many ways iPad defines our vision, our sense of what’s next.”

11:32 am: Jobs returns to the stage and recalls the “middle device” scenario he mentioned earlier today. “Can we create this new category? The bar is set pretty high, but we think we’ve got the goods.”

“This is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” he adds. “The reason the iPad is going to be so great is because Apple has always strived to be at the junction of technology and liberal arts.”

And with that he concludes. Lights go up and Dylan begins playing over the speakers again.

iPad Event Slideshow

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Steve Jobs introduces the new iPad.

Steve Jobs introduces the new iPad.

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