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What’s New With The iPad
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Right up to the end of the unveiling, I thought Tim Cook would surprise everyone with a name for the new iPad that no one had thought of, amid all the rumour and guesswork going on. That would be so very Apple. But the surprise was that there was no name. And well, maybe that's very Apple too. But in some ways, the name New iPad fits just fine. The freshly announced iPad is everything the iPad already had, and more. No radically different look, no dramatic rethink, just more of a good thing, really. Everything on steroids. You will find every bit of the specs captured during the announcement at Yerba Buena, San Francisco, for the new iPad, all over the Internet, which I am surprised has held up under the weight of all the tweeting, live-blogging and searching.
I am not trying to be rude but I think one of the best things about the new iPad is that the "old" iPad stays, and that too, at a dropped price of $399. The Indian prices for the new iPad are out, but they vary across models, starting from Rs 29,500 for the 16GB Wi-Fi. While the new tab may have so much more power overall, the iPad 2 is hardly old in terms of what it can do, how popular it is, and how it would still be a fantastic buy. If you put them next to each other and do not reach for your measuring instruments, they will look pretty much alike. Until you look at the screen, of course, and find it is of 2048 x 1536 resolution, double that of the iPad 2 — resolutionary, as Apple calls it. All multi-media, but routinely, your photos, movies, games and specially video calls will be much better looking. And the faster processor (A5X chip) will support working and playing with the media. But all said and done, if you are not unhappy with the resolution offered on the iPad 2 and not a user of heavy media like some of the more sophisticated games, you would not be doing too badly with the iPad.
We will really begin to understand the improvement in the new tablet — and even Tim Cook referred to it as "amazing improvements" over the fundamentals of the iPad – when the apps that will be developed to take advantage of the new iPad's power start coming in over the next few months. Some of the basic productivity apps from iWork and other apps from iLife, such as Garageband, already have new capabilities. But so much more will be developed and it's quite possible that some of these will work on the iPad 2, and some not. But only when we see them will we know whether there are any that are compelling to us individually, or even for businesses.
Another spec that will not matter to us in India is the support for 4G. Many believe we will soon leapfrog into 4G here, but until we see that and see it at affordable, practical prices, it does not make a difference.
I am not shocked, disappointed, or otherwise concerned about the absence of Siri. First, I do not rule her out. I think she could just make an appearance as an app, sometime. Or some features. Second, it would take more effort to make her work in other countries as she does in the US. Third, she may or may not understand our accents. I have a grand time every day looking over what comes out the other end when I dictate things on my phone and those whom I SMS often ask me to stop sending obscene messages. I also have a great time getting myself understood by the other assistant, Sam, from Speaktoit, both on iOS and Android. She also talks back and tells me not to be obnoxious. But there is voice dictation, and if it is threaded through most functions, we should have some fun.
One thing I would really miss if I did not opt for the new iPad is its improved camera, with its 5 megapixel sensor, advanced optics and photo-taking, editing and enhancing, organising and sharing features. Photography, of a kind, has really gone mainstream thanks to powerful cameras on phones, specially the iPhone, and online sharing like Facebook and Instagram, so it has finally got centerstage on the new iPad. However, if you have a good camera on your phone or a standalone, it may not be absolutely imperative for you to pay the higher price for the new iPad.
What I definitely did not like is the Apple India site giving no sign that a new iPad had just been launched. For India, it's as if nothing happened on the 7th of March. While that may change in the near future — and we hope it does — it isn't a good feeling to not even merit a hint or two about whether we are on Apple's iPad map or not.
mala at pobox dot com, @malabhargava on Twitter
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 19-03-2012)