- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO | Apple CEO Steve Jobs briefly emerged from his medical leave and walked onstage to a standing ovation Wednesday to unveil the second generation of the popular iPad. It comes with two cameras and will go on sale March 11 in the U.S.

Mr. Jobs looked frail as he appeared in his signature black mock turtleneck, bluejeans and wire-rimmed glasses.

“We’ve been working on this product for a while, and I just didn’t want to miss today,” he told an audience that included bloggers and Apple enthusiasts. “Thank you for having me.”

The next-generation tablet computer is faster than the original iPad. As expected, it comes with two cameras for taking photos and video chatting. The battery life will be the same as for the original — about 10 hours of usage or a month on standby.

The iPad 2 is also thinner 8.8 millimeters, or about a third of an inch, instead of the current 13.4 millimeters.

“The new iPad 2 is actually thinner than your iPhone 4,” Mr. Jobs said.

The original iPad, which went on sale last April, was more popular than analysts anticipated. Apple sold 15 million in nine months.

The iPad initially was used for checking e-mail, surfing the Web and watching online videos. As the number of software applications or “apps” designed just for iPad grew, however, the tablet made itself at home in offices, shops, restaurants and countless other settings.

The rush for iPads sparked dozens of copycat touch-screen devices, but so far, none has broken into the mainstream consciousness the way the iPad has. In February, Motorola Mobility Inc.’s Xoom, the most promising challenger so far, went on sale. It runs a new version of Google Inc.’s Android software, which was designed for tablets, not smart phones.

The new iPad will make it even harder for rivals to compete.

“Overall, the big message today is that Apple is offering a version 2 device while everyone else is still attempting to ship their first version 1 devices,” said Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe.

He said the iPad 2’s improvements are modest over the first one, but it will nonetheless stand out because more apps are available.

Sarah Rotman Eps, a Forrester Research analyst, said iPads should be at least 20 million of the 24.1 million tablet computers she expects people in the U.S. to buy this year.

Tablet computers existed long before the iPad, but it took Apple to build a device that made sense to consumers. Apple simplified the software, packed it in sleek, shiny hardware and sold it to a generation of gadget lovers who, most likely, already have a smart phone and a laptop that serve most of the same functions.

The new iPads will cost the same as the originals — $499 to $829, depending on storage space and whether they can connect to the Internet over a cellular network. Apple said there will be black and white versions despite its problems getting the promised white iPhone 4 models to market. The first iPad came only in black. In the U.S., the iPad 2 will work on AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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