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Apple Unveils iPad 2 at San Francisco

Steve Jobs, who is currently enjoying a “sick leave” due to his condition, reappeared today at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco to present Apple’s newest invention: the iPad 2.

Firstly, there are a couple of new processors. The main CPU is a Samsung A5 dual core processor. That will be up to nine times faster than the original iPad. Secondly, there’s a new graphics processor that’s two times faster than that of the iPad 1.

Secondly, it’s thinner — 33% thinner. Thinner than the iPhone 4. Thinner than a supermodel on a diet. It’s 8.8 mm, as opposed to 13.4 mm for the original iPad. And it’s slightly lighter at 1.3 lbs.

It will also come in white, from day one, and the 3G version will be available on Verizon and AT&T from day one. And when is day one? March 11 in the US, March 25 in other countries.

Front and rear cameras will be built in. How well will they work? We’ll have to wait and see. Photo Booth, the Mac app that lets you take fun pictures of yourself, is included.

Also, the iPad is now HDMI compatible, which means you can plug it into your TV or a large screen. That, says Jobs, will work with “every app.” It’ll cost you an extra $39 for the HDMI cable converter.

Also notable, says Jobs, is what hasn’t changed. The battery life is still in the 10 hour range. And the price is the same: $499 for the basic 16GB Wi-fi version, heading up to $829 for the 3G model with 64GB.

Apple has also made a couple of cool new iPad 2 cases. They have magnets on them that attach automatically to the screen. The iPad 2 will automatically wake when the case is opened, and the case folds back to put you in prime typing position. Cost: $39 for the plastic version, $69 for leather. Sorry, folks, this will not work with the original iPad: the case connects to magnets that are inside the iPad 2.

Finally, something us iPad owners have been asking for since iOS4 came out: you can tell the iPad 2 whether the button on the side will lock the rotation or mute the device. Thanks, Apple!

And that’s it for the hardware. Jobs moves on to software: the slightly tweaked iOS4.3, and an improved version of Air Play, which lets you share media (such as songs and slideshows) between the iPad and other devices. iTunes sharing is built in — so you can stream your whole music library to your iPad, at least when your iPad and your computer are on the same network. FaceTime is now available on the iPad. The video editing software iMovie also gets a significant update, and will be available in an iPad version for $4.99. Also, there’s Garage Band, which looks very cool and will let you plug in your guitar to the iPad.

(Photos courtesy of Mac World)

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