Yesterday, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2, which will be available at the same price as the original iPad starting Friday, March 11 at 5pm. The original iPad sold 15 million units from April to December of 2010, and a lot of those sales went to lawyers. The iPad 2 will appeal to lawyers even more. If you want all of the nitty gritty details, check out the information and videos on the iPad 2 page on the Apple website and the article by Roman Loyola on Macworld. Or if you have an hour, you can watch the video of the entire presentation. In short, though, the iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, faster, has cameras, and works with a neat new cover sold by Apple. Here is what I think that this will mean for lawyers.
Easier to hold
Working with documents is essential to the practice of law, and I love storing all of my important documents on the iPad. But when I hold up my iPad for an extended period of time, it starts to feel somewhat heavy in my hand and I fear that it might slip out. This is the reason that products such as the FreeOneHand can be so useful for lawyers with the original iPad.
The iPad 2 has a different design than the original iPad. The original iPad has an edge on it (sort of like the iPhone 4). The iPad 2 has a back that curves up to meet the front so there is essentially no side at all, as you can see in this picture:
Also, the iPad 2 is 33% thinner than the original iPad (indeed, it is even thinner than the iPhone 4). It is also lighter than the original iPad (1.3 pounds instead of 1.5 pounds).
When I first saw those specs, I thought that they sounded good but was curious how much difference it would really make. But Steve Jobs emphasized yesterday that these seemingly small differences in design, thickness and weight work together and are significant. He said:
It's dramatic. ... When you get your hands on one, it feels totally different. ... Going from 1.5 pounds to 1.3, and you might not think that is a lot, but when you get down to 1.5 pounds a tenth of a pound is a lot, and it feels quite a bit lighter.
I have read and listened to several reports by folks who were at the introduction yesterday and got a chance to handle the new iPad, and they all say that the iPad 2 really is much easier to hold. The curved design, the thinness and the reduced weight make holding the iPad a dramatically better experience. Jason Snell of Macworld remarked in a podcast yesterday that holding the iPad 2 feels almost like holding a magazine. After holding the original iPad for a while, my hand can feel like it is holding a large hard cover book. Having a case on the original iPad (or something like the FreeOneHand) can help, but the reports make me think that with the iPad 2 it will be much easier to get by without those extra contraptions.
The original iPad is usually pretty fast, but can sometimes lag in certain tasks. For example, whenever I am doing legal research, I like to download cases in PDF Format and then read and highlight them on my iPad using the GoodReader app and a stylus. Sometimes when I am highlighting a document, or marking up a PDF by drawing a circle or an arrow, there is just enough of a slight lag that it breaks the illusion that I am actually writing on a document.
But the new iPad 2 is, in the words of Steve Jobs, "dramatically faster." It has a new chip inside called the A5 that has two processors instead of one, and a CPU that is up to twice as fast. Moreover, the graphics are up to nine times faster. According to those who handled the iPad 2 yesterday, these improvements make the iPad feel much more responsive. We'll see when I get my hands on one, but I hope that this eliminates those slight lags that I see on my current iPad. And I understand that using the Safari browser to surf the Internet is much zippier on the iPad 2.
The iPad 2 has a camera on the front and a camera on the back, just like the iPhone 4. The back camera on the iPad 2 is not as good as the camera on the iPhone 4, but I don't see that as very important. I often use my iPhone 4 to take pictures, but I can't see holding up something the size of a legal pad to take many photographs. On the other hand, the cameras let you use FaceTime on the iPad, which in my experience is a nice way to keep in touch with family when I have to travel on business. Having a bigger screen will make FaceTime more enjoyable.
Video out for presentations
The new iPad 2 can work with a $39 device that provides HDMI mirrored video output at up to 1080p and works with all apps and supports rotation. Apple has more information on this page. For lawyers, this means that you can use your iPad to give a presentation on a large TV screen and the audience can see whatever you see on your iPad.
According to a page on the online Apple Store, the new Apple Digital AV Adapter also work with the iPhone 4 and iPod touch (4th generation). (I'm not sure if it works with the original iPad.) So this should mean that you can even just use your iPhone to easily display a document, slide, etc. with other counsel or clients as long as you have access to a TV with an HDMI port. [UPDATE 3/4/11: Apparently, you can't do as much with this adapter on an iPhone. Macworld reports: "However, when used with an iPhone, iPod touch, or original iPad, the adapter doesn’t support systemwide mirroring and is limited to displaying video from apps that explicitly support video output, such as the stock Photos and Video apps and the Netflix app. In addition, that video is limited to 720p resolution. (When used with an iPad 2, the adapter lets you mirror anything and everything, including the Home screen, and supports resolutions up to 1080p.)"]
Apple (and many third party companies) made cases for the original iPad. But for the iPad 2, Apple decided that it wanted to come up with a way to protect the screen without adding as much thickness and weight. The result is what Apple calls the Smart Cover. It attaches to the iPad with magnets, covering the screen and automatically putting the iPad to sleep. It also folds up into a triangle that can prop up the iPad either slightly for typing or more for watching videos, doing FaceTime, etc. This short video does a great job of showing how it works:
The covers come in a polyurethane version in five colors for $39 each and a leather version in five colors for $69 each. I suspect that almost all iPad 2 owners will want to pick up one of these. Time will tell whether the Smart Cover makes other iPad cases obsolete, but it is great to have such a sleek option that adds so little size and weight to the iPad so that it will be even easier to carry the iPad 2 around.
Lawyers will love it
I'm just touching on the major features. The iPad 2 also has a lot of fun new features, such as the Photo Booth app (your kids will love it), and the (optional) new GarageBand and updated iMovie apps look really neat. The new three-axis gyroscope (just like the iPhone 4) will be useful for augmented reality apps. And while the original iPad only came in black, you can get either a black or white model of the iPad 2. In short, though, it looks like the iPad 2 will add a lot of useful features to a device that lawyers already love, and will address some of the few shortcomings of the original iPad.
I know a lot of lawyers who have been waiting for the next model to get their first iPad. Their time has come. I also suspect that a lot of lawyers who currently have an iPad will be gifting it to a spouse or other loved one to take advantage of the new features. I feel that I should note that John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple — two folks who tend to have very good sources and good insight on unreleased Apple products — have both guessed that Apple will announce an iPad 3 (or perhaps the iPad 2 HD), a version of the iPad 2 with a retina display like we have on the iPhone 4, in September of this year to have a new model for the holiday buying season. Will this happen this year? Well, maybe we can read something into the statement on this slide that Jobs displayed yesterday: "2011: Year of iPad 2." Perhaps that means that the iPad 2 is all that we will see this year and the third generation iPad won't come out until 2012. We just don't know.
Of course, you never know when the next great technology product will come out, and if you keep waiting for the next model, you'll never get anything at all. One thing that is for sure: I am positive that many lawyers will soon be very happy owners of the new iPad 2. And I suspect that I will be one of them.