Apple launches iPad

Apple has launched iPad, a new touchscreen device similar to the iPod Touch, which will include an e-book reader, with content from publishers including the New York Times and Penguin Books.

A new software kit will also enable the development of better “universal apps” by marketers.

The iPads will use a new high-responsive Multi-Touch display, allowing users to physically interact with applications and content. It is just 0.5 inches thick and weighs just 1.5 pounds— thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook. The screen is 9.7-inches and has an LED-backlit display. It will use special adaptive charging technology to deliver up to 1,000 charge cycles without a significant decrease in battery capacity over a typical five year lifespan.

iPad comes in two versions — one with Wi-Fi and the other with both Wi-Fi and 3G. Apple and AT&T announced breakthrough 3G pre-paid data plans for iPad with easy, on-device activation and management. No UK carrier has yet been announced.

The iPad will include 12 new innovative apps designed especially for the iPad, and will run almost all of the other 140,000 apps in the App Store. iPad will be available in late March. Marketing agency BMB has signalled its intent to make the Carling iPint app available on the device. Every app, including any of the 140,000 apps already available on Apple AppStore, will work in both portrait and landscape, automatically animating between views as the user rotates iPad in any direction.

A new Software Development Kit (SDK) for iPad will be available so developers, including marketers, can create “amazing new apps” designed to take advantage of iPad’s capabilities. The SDK includes a simulator that lets developers test and debug their iPad apps on a Mac, and also lets developers create Universal Applications that run on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

A new newspaper reader program from The New York Times and games by video game maker Electronic Arts have been designed for the iPad, while Major League Baseball has demonstrated how it plans to use the iPad to enhance its own digital offerings.

Apple claims that the precise Multi-Touch interface will make surfing the web on iPad “an entirely new experience, dramatically more interactive and intimate than on a computer.” It includes an “almost full-size “soft” keyboard” and users can import photos from a Mac, PC or digital camera and then see them organised as albums, and enjoy and share them in slideshows. They can also watch movies, TV shows and YouTube, all in HD or listen to new music from the iTunes store. The device will sync with personal music and video collections in the same way they can using iPods and iPhones.

Apple also announced the new iBooks app for iPad, which includes Apple’s new iBookstore, the best way to browse, buy and read books on a mobile device. The iBookstore will feature books from major and independent publishers, including Penguin, Macmillian and Harper Collins.

Apple has also introduced a new version of iWork for iPad, the first desktop-class productivity suite designed specifically for Multi-Touch. With Pages, Keynote and Numbers users can create formatted documents, presentations with animations and transitions, and spreadsheets with charts, functions and formulas. The three apps will be available separately through the App Store for around $10 (£6) each.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executve, says: “iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

iPad will be available in late March worldwide for a suggested retail price of $499 (£310) for the 16GB model, $599 (£370) for the 32GB model and $699 (£435) for the 64GB model. The Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad will be available in April in the US and selected countries for a suggested retail price of $629 (£390) for the 16GB model, $729 (£450) for the 32GB model and $829 (£515) for the 64GB model, though international pricing and worldwide availability will be announced at a later date. iBookstore will be available in the US at launch.

To read Joe Fernandez’s analysis on this story click here

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