Apple’s new iPad is finally here, and like the iPad 2 last year, the changes are more incremental improvements, rather than a complete overhaul or redesign, as some speculated.
While no new features were added — as Apple did when it added a front-facing camera and a gyroscope to the iPad 2 — the new iPad has better graphics, better cameras and a better display, all of which will be of interest to developers looking to get the most out of the device.
Upgraded front and back cameras:
The iPad’s cameras have always been one of the device’s weakest links, but no longer. The new iPad will have an iSight camera on the front and a full HD 1080p camera on the back. It will also automatically add video stabilization for home movies recorded with the device. For developers of camera and video editing apps, the combination of a large screen and a decent camera setup could spark more demand for their apps on the iPad. Apple has already updated iMovie and brought iPhoto to the iPad.
One of the biggest, and most highly anticipated improvements was the new iPad’s retina display. The device has a 2048 x 1536 resolution, and shows 264 pixels per inch. That’s 3.1 million pixels in total — a million more than an HDTV.
A5X chip, quad-core graphics:
As Apple’s SVP of Marketing, Phil Schiller said before launching into game demos on the new iPad, “developers can do things with their apps that are just mindblowing.” The A5X quad-core chip is a significant upgrade even over the iPhone 4S’ dual-core A5 model. According to Apple, games on the iPad have access to more memory and can have better resolution than games developed for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Epic demoed a new Infinity Blade title, Infinity Blade Dungeons to show off the potential of the new device.
Hardware wise, the new iPad is largely unchanged. The device is slightly heavier, but keeps its 10 hour battery life. The new iPad will also support 4G, but the heavier power draw reduces batter life to nine hours. Pricing also remains the same — ranging from $499 for a 16 GB wifi-only model to $829 for a LTE 64 GB model. Pre-orders are open today, and the device ships on Mar. 16.