It was the morning of January 27, 2010 that the late Steve Jobs walked onto stage at an Apple special event to unveil the iPad. It was a day long-expected by the world’s media. For month’s there had been rumors Apple was working on a tablet computer that would change the world. Leaked images had appeared on the web showing a partially covered prototype unit displaying Google Maps. Shortly afterwards, Steve was overheard saying “This will be the most important thing I’ve ever done”. There was a fervent buzz in the air.
As Steve unveiled the iPad for the very first time, he told the audience: “The iPad is really thin. It’s half an inch thin, and it weighs just one and a half pounds. That is thinner and lighter than ANY netbook.” Alongside its impressive dimensions, the original iPad featured a 9.7-inch LED display with a resolution of just 1024×768. It was powered by an A4 chip, designed in-house by Apple, along with 256MB of RAM. It didn’t include a camera and was charged by the traditional 30-pin Dock connector. Its operating system was based upon the iPhone OS (at the time version 3.2). It included most of the same apps but with updated interfaces designed to take advantage of the larger display. Launched alongside the iPad were several brand new apps. iBooks introduced a new way of reading books on an Apple device. It supported the common ePub format, PDFs plus a brand new format called iba, that enabled authors to include multimedia and interactive content, exclusively on the iPad. Other new apps included Pages, Numbers and Keynote, enabling users to edit and create documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
The WiFi-only version of iPad went on sale April 3rd, 2010, selling more than 300,000 units in its first weekend alone. One month later, when the iPad with WiFi+3G launched, it had already sold one million, making the iPad the first commercially successful tablet computer.
The iPad may have changed how we interact with computers, but at its announcement and subsequent launch, it was derided by critics who couldn’t understand it’s appeal. “Is this thing even worth reviewing?” Said Paul Thurrott at http://winsupersite.com/product-review/apple-ipad-hands-first-impressions. He continued, “anyone who believes this thing is a game changer is a tool. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.” He wasn’t alone, after watching Steve Jobs unveil the iPad, Orange County Web Design Blog gave their disappointed verdict: “What an utter disappointment and abysmal failure of an Apple product. How can Steve Jobs stand up on that stage and hype this product up and not see everything this thing is not and everything this thing is lacking?” The criticism continues to this day, as tech authors and commentators continue to misunderstand the appeal of the iPad. Shortly after the launch of the iPad Air, The Inquisitor reported that: “…things were different this time around, as Apple launched its new iPad Air to lacklustre crowds.”
Shortly after the iPad launch, Apple announced iPhone OS 4 for the iPhone. It was later renamed to iOS 4 at the WWDC 2010 conference, and shipped with the iPhone 4 that September, but it wasn’t until October of 2010 that iOS 4 came to the iPad. When it did, it finally converged iOS into one release for all devices. Soon afterwards, Apple announced the iPad 2 at a special media event on March 2, 2011. The iPad 2 was lighter at 1.33 pounds, thinner, included both front and back cameras and came with faster CPU and GPU chips. It was an instant hit, and continues to be sold at Apple stores in 2014.
It was March 2012 when the iPad 3 was announced at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. It featured a vastly improved screen with a Retina Display of 2048×1536 pixels. iOS was updated to version 5.1, which came with iCloud, iMessage, the Reminders app and Newsstand. iOS 5 also enabled used to sync with iTunes wirelessly, and didn’t need to be activated via a computer tether.
Just seven months later, on October 23 2012, Apple announced the fourth generation of the iPad. It was updated to include the new A6X process and Lightning connector – two innovations that were earlier introduced with the iPhone 5. It was a surprise move, halving the time between iPad updates, and left many recent customers feeling frustrated. Also announced alongside the iPad 4 was the iPad mini. This was the first considerable change to the iPad line-up, featuring a smaller 7.9-inch LED display. It’s reduced size and thinner bezels meant the iPad mini could be comfortably held with just one hand, its lighter weight (0.68 pounds) also made it considerably more portable. There was just one caveat. The iPad mini didn’t have a Retina Display. That finally came in 2013, when Apple announced the new iPad mini on October 22, 2013. During the same keynote, Apple also announced the iPad Air with an all-new design. It weighed just 1.03 pounds, and had a thickness of only 7.5mm. Inside was the 64-bit A7 chip with M7 motion processor and a new GPU that boasted double the speed of the fourth generation iPad. Externally it mirrored the design of the iPad mini with reduced bezels down each side of the display. It was an instant hit, selling out completely in hours. Critics praised it for its reduced weight and size. Patrick Goss from TechRader summed it up by saying, “It’s a joy to hold the iPad Air. From the clever construction to the fast processor to the improved user interface, Apple has found an answer to every criticism we had of the device and then some.”