iPad launch: Improvement rather than innovation

The technology industry held its breath and prepared for something amazing last night as Apple unveiled what everyone has been referring to furtively as the iPad 3, but we’ve now learned is just, well, the new iPad.

It’s impossible not to wonder what Steve Jobs would have made of Apple’s latest effort to lead the tablet game. The launch proved to be a showcase of incremental improvements rather than the game changing innovations we'd come to expect from the company under his stewardship.

That’s not to say the new iPad isn’t good. It’s got a little extra weight and thickness, but this accommodates a very good looking high definition retina display, a five mega-pixel camera, voice recognition that isn’t Siri, a more powerful processor than its predecessors and 4G connectivity; provided you’re in the US that is.

Little doubt that the killer feature is the new retina display. Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of Worldwide Marketing, said: “[It has] text sharper than a newspaper. Photos will look incredible. Fonts look amazing. [It has] the best mobile display that has ever shipped.”

Interestingly, Apple has eased its data download limit for apps downloaded over mobile wireless networks, presumably to accommodate the data requirements of apps utilising the iPad’s new high resolution display.

Previously the cap was 20meg, above which users would be prompted onto a WiFi connection. But Apple has now more than doubled this to 50meg, good news for developers keen to take advantage of the new high-def features on the iPad; perhaps not so good for already creaking 3G and brand new 4G mobile networks.

David Dixon, Senior iOS developer for one of the leading UK app developers Mubaloo, followed up on a number of correct predictions his team made to DeveloperTech earlier this week, sharing their reaction to the announcement.

Dixon’s team correctly predicted there would be no thunderport, and neither is there an SD card slot. 4G LTE compatibility was also expected and has been delivered.

The Mubaloo developers were excited to see their high definition prediction upheld in style, with Apple unveiling the 2,048 x 1,536 pixel retina display.

“This will undoubtedly take the look and feel of our apps to a whole new dimension as well as opening up incredibly exciting opportunities within the development of our 3D modeling within apps,” said Dixon.

“We expected the iPad to go thinner but actually it has become slightly thicker at 9.4mm deep compared to the iPad 2 at 8.8mm,” he added.  “It has also become slightly heavier, but considering the improvements across the screen, camera and processor we are not sure many people will notice the 0.11 pound increase in weight.”

The announcement of the Apple TV set top box with 1080p video and updated interface is one Dixon’s team was expecting.

“This is fantastic as the new interface, coupled with the news that iCloud now allows you to store movies in the cloud, points towards the release of a future Siri-enabled Apple TV,” said Dixon.

“Overall, there is no doubt that Mubaloo’s iOS developers are thrilled by the announcement,” he added. “That is not to say it is without challenges, especially around the image sizes, but the challenges will be worth the effort for the improvements the new iPad facilitates will allow.”

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