iPad 2: The crowd expected to be surprised. But not quite like this

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

David Phelan witnesses the birth of the iPad 2 – and the re-emergence of Steve Jobs

All eyes were supposed to be on a black slab of metal and glass last night as Apple Inc unveiled its newest, shiniest, and potentially most lucrative, gadget the iPad 2. But if one man could overshadow his own launch party it was Steve Jobs, whose ill health led Apple fans to believe he would fail to appear in his customary jeans and polo-neck.

Less than two months after the Apple CEO announced that he would be taking indefinite medical leave of absence, with the technology community and Apple shareholders alike fearing the worst, he strode on to the stage at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Centre looking thin but otherwise healthy.

"We've been working on this product for a while and I didn't want to miss today," Jobs told the crowd after a standing ovation, bearing little sign of the pancreatic cancer and liver transplant he has endured in recent years.

His appearance made material the hopes and rumours that had been circulating San Francisco and the internet before the product unveiling. The event was beamed live to venues all around the world, including the BBC in London.

As for the product, it wasn't exactly clear who was salivating more in advance of its unveiling: the computer company's executives preparing to unveil Apple's latest gadget, or the legions of geeks. Going by first reactions, both groups appeared pleased.

The iPad2 will go on sale in the US on 11 March, its forms ranging from a 16 gigabyte version with WiFi technology to a 64GB model that features WiFi and 3G connectivity.

It is the successor to the first iPad, that, last January, created a new in-between category of gizmo: a tablet computer with an inviting touchscreen interface and virtual onscreen keyboard. Initially it won mixed reviews, with many writing Apple off for creating a product nobody would want. It was also criticised for lacking a camera and for just being a large iPod touch. It may have looked underwhelming, but it went on to sell massively (15 million and counting). Users were won over by the slick, responsive touchscreen and an interface so simple a baby could use it.

Even while people were wondering what exactly it was for, manufacturers from Samsung to HP, BlackBerry to HTC, scrambled to release their own tablets. Most have yet to go on sale and this announcement may have put Apple back in the lead – especially as the new iPad hits the shops on 25 March for the same price as the original.

First touch: A neat step forward, but no giant leap

You might be forgiven a sense of déjà vu. It is only 13 months since the original iPad was presented by the man in the black turtle-neck, but its successor has nonetheless been a highly anticipated arrival. So, first impressions: it is noticeably lighter in the hand, a third slimmer, and the increased processing power that promises to be up to twice as fast does make a difference.

The 9.7in screen remains identical, but that camera has arrived. Two, actually: one front, one back. They are configured for video rather than stills, so video calling between iPad, iPhone and Mac is now possible.But the biggest reaction was reserved for an accessory: a screen cover that auto-attaches magnetically and in perfect alignment to the front, and folds to support the iPad 2 while you type.

Hopes that the new iPad would have better connectivity than its predecessor, making it easier to move documents and photos, were dashed. At least there’s now an HDMI out cable so you can play back apps on a compatible television. Overall, it’s a gentle improvement rather than a radical overhaul.

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Essex

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before