The years of the iPad

There were a few things I took away from Apple’s event today. First and foremost – welcome back Steve! Walking on stage to “Here Comes the Sun” has to be the best possible way to reenter the spotlight, and he looked healthy and strong. Even if you have some issues with how Steve has acted in the past (as I have), it’s great to know he’s ok.

A few things were missing today – this was a totally iPad-centric presentation, no iOS 5 previews in sight. That means either that another event is coming soon or they’ve eliminated the spring preview. Hopefully the former, since who wants to wait until June? Also missing: MobileMe upgrades, which by this time we’re almost positive will be arriving soon. You can’t even buy it online from Apple, though there’s a two month free trial, so they have some leeway before introducing the next version.

But that’s not the main course. No “One more thing” this time around – we just launch into the feature presentation. The iPad 2 has arrived, and it’s definitely better than rumor sites postulated. Yes, it’s a speed bump with a faster processor and (we hope) more RAM, cameras and better graphics. Except there’s much more too it this time – no one thought to break the rumor that the iPad is now thinner than Apple’s own “world’s thinnest smartphone.” It absolutely blows my mind that they could make it this thin and still keep battery life and such processing speed. Also, the new case team has outdone themselves this time with some really enticing smart covers. All in all, this looks like a killer upgrade. I know it’s probably the RDF talking, but I can’t imagine anything else on the market catching this anytime soon. Pricing is right and functionality is finally here with laptop-quality power.

I’ve been waiting for the perfect product to get my mother, who happens to be deathly afraid of all technology. She’s endlessly confused by file storage, desktops, windows, and just about everything else associated with traditional computing. That all could change with the iPad 2. Facetime alone would justify the purchase to easily talk to her when I’m away at grad school. As a professional musician, I imagine she’d get a kick out of GarageBand too. This really is THE product for the tech-challenged market, and Apple gets it. There is no shame in making a device more accessible to ordinary people, and the massive sales figures are proof. Jobs loves to talk at every keynote about how Apple is all about the intersection of tech and the liberal arts, but no one seems to pick up on it except the consumer who doesn’t want to install Cyanogen or dual-boot Ubuntu. It’s a great description of how Apple sees its place in the world, and they’ve been welcomed with open arms. If you still have any doubts, take the time to watch this. Just make sure you bring a tissue box.

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