Yesterday, Apple announced the 2012 version of the iPad. Instead of calling it the "iPad 3" or the "iPad HD" or something like that, Apple is just calling it the iPad. That makes sense to me. I use an iMac as my home computer, and the computer has been called the iMac for a very long time even though it is updated from year to year. It is sort of like saying you drive a Honda Accord, without needing to say the "Accord 9" or something like that, although of course you often do need to know your model year to get service, accessories, etc.
I ordered the new iPad last night, to be delivered on March 16 when it becomes available for purchase. I look forward to trying it out myself, but based upon what Apple announced yesterday, here are the reasons that I think that lawyers will love the third generation of the iPad:
Retina display. This is the new feature that we expected, but even though it is not a surprise, I am sure that this will be the best part of the new iPad. The original iPad and iPad 2 have a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi). The new iPad doubles that for four times as many pixels: 2048 x 1536 resolution at 264 ppi. Those are just numbers, though ... what does it mean in real life? As I mentioned last week, remember that a fancy 1080p HDTV has a 1920 x 1080 display, and even though that screen is probably 30 to 50 inches or more, you really can't see individual dots very much. The iPad display has got a million more pixels than an HDTV, and they are packed together MUCH more to fit the considerably smaller iPad screen. As a result, text will look amazingly smooth, photographs will look stunning, and videos will look amazing. Ryan Block of GDGT saw the new display yesterday and wrote:
Let me put it this way: when I pulled up a nice, high resolution photograph on the iPad 3rd-gen, I genuinely could not tell the difference between what I was seeing onscreen, and a nice, beautifully shot, well-printed, glossy photograph. It was seriously to that level. It's the best display I've ever seen. Anywhere, period. And it makes a meaningful difference to the experience -- it's not just a spec.
The iPad is all about the screen. You view the screen, you touch the screen -- the iPad is nothing more than a screen. This resolution on a screen will be amazing and make the iPad so much more pleasant to use.
Faster. The new iPad needs to have a faster processor to handle the vastly improved screen, and it does. My hope is that the overall experience of using the iPad will also be faster because it means that the iPad will be more responsive. I'll have to test this to see how it works, but my hope is that all apps feel faster including, for example, apps like Note Taker HD that let you use a stylus to take handwritten notes on an iPad. More speed would make that app and others like it feel more like you are directly writing on the screen.
4G LTE. Additionally, if you buy the iPad model that has a built-in radio, it now works not only with 3G networks but also with 4G LTE networks, which means even faster web browsing, downloads, etc. I almost always have Wi-Fi available so when I placed my order last night, I didn't pay the extra $130 for this feature. Instead of paying a monthly fee to AT&T or Verizon for the iPad, I just pay for the AT&T iPhone tethering plan and use that with my iPad for the rare times that I need it. But I cannot deny the usefulness of having that radio – my first iPad was the 3G version and it was great to just always be on the Internet. If the 3G model is right for you, you can now also use 4G LTE if you are in a city that supports the service.
Voice dictation. One of the things I love about Siri on my iPhone 4S is the ability to dictate an e-mail, which is often so much faster than using my thumbs to type (and I'm a pretty fast thumb typist). The new iPad doesn't support all Siri features, but it does support voice dictation, so you don't need to use a third party app like Dragon Dictation to accomplish this. Writing e-mails and editing documents are a huge part of my daily use of the iPad, and having voice dictation will make those tasks easier.
New and updated apps. Apple announced the new iPhoto app, making it easy for you to improve photos on your iPhone or iPad, and Apple updated the iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) and the iLife apps (GarageBand, iMovie) to take advantage of the Retina Display and get new features.
Other details. The new iPad has a vastly improved camera, but I can't imagine that using a large iPad as a camera is important to most lawyers so I don't see this as a very big deal, although I suppose it is nice. [UPDATE: As several have wisely pointed out in the comments, the improved camera will be helpful for attorneys who want to scan documents.]
The new iPad weighs about two ounces more than the iPad 2 (but still less than the original iPad). It is also a little bit thicker than the iPad 2, although much less than the original iPad. All other things being equal, I'd prefer a lighter, thinner iPad. I'm sure that Apple needed the extra bulk to keep the amazing iPad battery life of up to 10 hours, even with the larger screen and more advanced processor.
The price remains the same as before, so you can get the entry-level new iPad with 16 GB for $499. Add another $100 for 32 GB or an extra $200 for 64 GB; add an extra $130 for the 3G/4G LTE radio.
If you want to save some money and you don't mind getting the 2011 model instead of the new 2012 model, you can now get the 16 GB version of the iPad 2 for only $399. You can compare the iPad 2 with the third generation iPad on this page.
The bottom line. I'll have to wait until the third generation iPad is in my hands before I can post a full review, but I suspect that it will be a nice upgrade for any attorney using an iPad, especially if you are still using the first generation iPad. And for new attorneys who have yet to get their first iPad, the third generation iPad looks to be a real treat. There will be a lot for lawyers to love in the new iPad.