Apple’s iPad 2 Event Liveblog

We’ve updated our iPad 2 liveblog with hands-on video of the skinny, blazingly fast new device. We were able to show off the snap-on cover, new apps featuring the camera, and even a bit of NOVA 2 with the gyroscope. Check it out!

We’re here at Apple’s big press event in San Francisco, right next to GDC. Everyone’s talking about what we’re going to find out about the iPad 2. Will it have cameras? Will it be faster? Will it fly? Join us live at 10:00 am PST as we find out.

Chris and I have taken our seats in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Beatles music is blasting on the speakers– almost as if these songs were now available to purchase on iTunes.

While we wait, here are a few of our favorite responses so far from our Tuesday Twitter Giveaway question: “What’s Apple’s big surprise today?”:

@coopr001 Apple’s big surprise is that the iPad 2 will also transform into the bat belt.

@zacinoff Apple’s big surprise is that the iPad 2 will tuck you in at night, and make you breakfast in the morning.

@fornate The iPad 2 surprise is that it now doubles as a food-warming plate.

“Revolution” is now playing on the loudspeakers– seems appropriate, given Apple’s history of game-changing technology. Now we’re on to “With a little help from my friends” and “Here comes the sun”.

Lights are dimming… showtime! Steve Jobs takes the stage, to a standing O from the press. We’re happy to see him, too.

Sales News

iBookstore news: 100 million books downloaded. Random House is bringing their books to iPad, you can read more about that here.

Three stores: iTunes, App Store, and iBooks Store. Steve announces 200 million accounts with credit cards and 1 click purchasing. Steve says this is the most accounts with credit cards anywhere on the Internet (but Amazon numbers are unknown).

Jobs: Apple’s paid out 2 billion dollars to app developers. 100 million iPhones shipped. Apple’s going to talk about the “third post-PC blockbuster product”

15 million iPads sold in 2010 (over 9 months). That’s more than every Tablet PC ever sold, and generated 9.5 billion bucks for Apple in 2010.

350k Apps on the App Store, 65k of them are for the iPad. Steve is now showing a collection of utility/ productivity apps for medicine, art, etc.

Steve’s now talking about Apple stores, the great glass elevators of commerce. Now, they’re showing a video on 2010: The Year of the iPad. Videos of people high-fiving on their way out of the Apple store, iPad in tow.

Video: Doctors talking about how the iPad will change how they practice medicine. CEO talking about how it’s impacting their sales. Helping autistic children– is there anything the iPad can’t do?

Speaking from personal experience: I have a cousin whose child is autistic, and he took to the iPad/ iPhone games like a fish takes to water. It’s not all PR BS.

iPad 2

Steve takes the stage again. “What about 2011? Is 2011 going to be the year of the copycats?” Not if Apple stops innovating, Steve says. Introducing: iPad 2.

What did we learn? What can we improve?

All new design:

Dramatically faster. A5: Dual-core processors. 2x faster CPU. 9x faster graphics! Same low power as A4, and “first dual-core tablet to ship in volume”

Cameras in front and back. Gyroscope from iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4.

Also, dramatically thinner. 33% thinner. From 13.4 mm to 8.8mm thick. Less than a cm! Wow. Thinner than the 9.3 mm iPhone 4.

Comes in two colors: black and white. “We’re shipping white from day one!” Audience applauds. “You pick this thing up, it almost floats.”

AT&T and Verizon models, from Day 1.

Same 10 hour battery life– but it’s still thinner, faster, and has cameras and gyroscope. Same price: $499 for the 16 gb wi-fi version. Steve says 2011 will be the year of iPad 2.

When’s it coming? March 11, a week from this Friday in the US. Two weeks later, 26 countries including UK, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, Germany, Japan.

Accessories

HDMI video out accessory cable. Mirrored video output. Audience claps. 1080p, works with all apps, supports rotation, no setup, charges at the same time. $39.

Next: “Smart Covers”. Finding a way to show off the iPad 2 design, not add weight or thickness through the cover. Covers the case, folds up as a typing stand. Automatically wakes up the iPad when you open it, close it when you cover. Magnets grasp and auto-align it. Video demo of iPad cover, using Fiona Apple’s song “Incredible Machine”.

Smart covers come in 5 polyurethane (spacesuit material) covers, and 5 leather covers.

iOS 4.3

Scott Forstall takes the stage to talk about iOS 4.3. First feature: Significantly increased Safari performance. Runs javascript twice as fast as before.

Next, iTunes home sharing. Apple TV improved, so you can use slideshow transitions.

Also, apps from the App Store can Airplay video in addition to audio.

Preference for iPad switch: mute OR rotation lock.

Personal hotspot: iPhone 4 only. Share your 3G internet connection with other devices.

Photo Booth included in 4.3. It’s a Mac app, so you may already be familiar with it. Scott’s doing a demo. 9 live video streams of his face– he chooses “mirror” and plays around with it. Move effects around with your finger.

FaceTime on iPad. FaceTime between iPads, iPhone 4s, Mac, or iPod Touch. Larger screen size means more detailed expressions and images.

iOS 4.3 will be a free download on March 11, supports newer iPhones and iPod Touches.

New Apps

Steve’s back on stage to introduce two more apps.

iMovie for iPad. Stage demo by Randy Ubillos underway now. Home screen has cinema marquee.Thumbnails are movie posters. Randy’s editing a clip of a girl swinging into a lake. There’s a precision edit tool that lets him be really precise with the shots of the girl landing in the lake.

Now Randy’s adding a jet airplane sound effect to a video of a guy going down a zipline. Pretty cool! “Ken Burns effect”: Slow zoom on faces, documentary-style. Now we’re watching the full video– looks really great and professional.

Steve’s back on stage again.

iMovie for iPad will cost $4.99 and be available on March 11.

GarageBand for iPad is the second new app. Xander Soren is doing the demo. Touch instruments: Sampler, keyboard, piano. Piano turns into a synthesizer: We all play synth!

iPad has an accelerometer built in, and it uses that to measure how hard you’re striking the keys on the keyboard. Switch octaves with buttons on the left. Switching from grand piano to classic rock organ, the look of the keyboard changes. 50s sci-fi synth, making UFO noises.

Virtual drumkit. Again, recognizes if you’re hitting the screen soft or hard.

Side note: You can see the new iPad and smart covers here.

Smart instruments (guitar): choose the chord, then strum away or finger pick. “Campfires will never be the same”. “Musical training wheels”. Recording is simple, too, Xander says. Tap, you get a count in, and it’s recording you playing.

iPad 2 GarageBand supports up to 8 tracks. Once your song is done, you can share it through email or import to iTunes.

Steve’s back, to announce a price and release date for GarageBand on iPad: $4.99 on March 11.

Conclusion

To recap: Faster, lighter, thinner. Cameras and gyro. iOS 4.3 with FaceTime and PhotoBooth. $5 iMovie and GarageBand. Same battery, same price. Black and white, and smart covers. Video ad playing now.

Lengthy video showing off all the new iPad 2 features. While it plays, some thoughts: I think we called most of the features, mainly the iPhone 4 cameras, and thinner/faster. This iPad 2 isn’t revolutionary, but evolutionary.

Video’s over, Steve’s back. Here’s the “technology + liberal arts” cross streets graphic we’ve seen at the last several press conferences. Steve now invites the iPad 2 engineers to stand up for applause.

That’s it! Hands-on impressions soon. Thanks for following our liveblog, check back for more updates from GDC soon.