Apple iPad tablet makes debut (live blog)

After months of speculation about a slate-like device, Apple shows off a giant iPod Touch-looking device.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
12 min read
Watch this: Apple iPad unveiled

After months of rumors and speculation about a slate-like device, Apple had its say on Wednesday. This is our live coverage from the high-profile press event, which kicked off in San Francisco at 10 a.m. PST. This page contains our up-to-the-minute updates as the announcement was made. Click here for our summary of everything you need to know about the new tablet, dubbed the iPad.

You can also see a collection of videos from Steve Jobs' introduction of the iPad here. In addition, Tom Merritt, Molly Wood, and Rafe Needleman hosted a special edition of Buzz Out Loud. Click here for the show to hear their ongoing commentary throughout today's announcement.

Members of the press check in for the big Apple event Wednesday morning outside the venue. James Martin/CNET

The scene outside San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts before Wednesday morning's big Apple event. James Martin/CNET

Inside the building, awaiting Steve Jobs. James Martin/CNET

A seat and small table on stage--that's not typical for these events. James Martin/CNET

9:53 a.m. PST: OK, we're all settled inside Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where the event should get going in just under 10 minutes. I'm with CNET reviewer Donald Bell, who will be providing some occasional commentary today. The place is packed already, and Bob Dylan is on the speakers. The stage is a bit of a different setup than we've seen at these events before, with a comfortable-looking leather chair and table set up on the left.

10:01 a.m.: Lights are lowering, and music is getting turned down. Here we go.

10:01 a.m.: Steve Jobs takes the stage to a standing ovation.

Steve Jobs takes the stage James Martin/CNET

10:02 a.m.: He says he wants to kick off 2010 by introducing a truly magical and revolutionary product today. But first a few updates to other products.

iPods are up first. Steve says the 250 millionth iPod was sold last week.

10:03 a.m.: Now he's talking about retail stores.

And another store, the App Store, is an "incredible phenomenon" he says. With 140,000 apps in the App Store, there have been 3 billion downloads over the past 18 months

10:04 a.m.: Finally, he shows an old photo of himself and Woz and says since they started the company in 1976, and now they have a company making $15.6 billion in revenue. "Apple is an over-$50 billion company now," he says.

Jobs shows a photo of he and fellow Apple founder Steve Wozniak. James Martin/CNET

10:05 a.m.: He is going to explain where the revenue comes from: iPods, iPhones, and Macs. "What's interesting," he says, is that iPods, iPhones, and Macs are mobile devices. Apple is a mobile device company. "That's what we do."

10:06 a.m.: Apple is the largest mobile devices company in the world now, by revenue, according to Jobs. He says this includes Sony, Samsung, and Nokia's mobile devices units.

10:06 a.m.: That's the end of the updates. Now to the main event.

He shows a photo of Moses holding a tablet. "I chuckled when I saw this."

10:07 a.m.: Quick history lesson: The 1991 PowerBook is on the screen now. It's the first modern laptop, he tells us.

He shows the 2007 original iPhone, too.

"All of us use laptops and smartphones now," he says. "The question has arisen lately, is there room for a third category of device in the middle?"

10:09 a.m.: In order to create a new category of devices, they have to be really good at doing some important things, he says. That includes Web browsing, e-mail, photos, watching video, listening to music, playing games, and reading e-books.

10:09 a.m.: Some people have thought that's a Netbook, he says. "The problem is Netbooks aren't better at anything," he says to loud laughter and applause.

"They're just cheap laptops. We think we have something better."

10:10 a.m.: iPad is the name.

Jobs announces the iPad. James Martin/CNET

10:10 a.m.: It's a giant iPod Touch-looking device, just like we thought. Same home button, same bezel.

10:11 a.m.: You can browse the Web with it, using the touch screen to navigate.

10:11 a.m.: It can be oriented to landscape or portrait mode.

10:12 a.m.: He shows e-mail, Facebook, and The New York Times as examples of sites to visit. The virtual keyboard is landscape.

Jobs demoing the iPad. James Martin/CNET

10:12 a.m.: There's a calendar and address book for contacts. And maps using Google Maps, too.

10:13 a.m.: The iPad will have access to the iTunes Store.

10:13 a.m.: You can also watch YouTube, TV shows, and movies on it. Now Jobs is going to demo the device for us.

10:14 a.m.: He takes a seat in that leather chair, reclining like he's in a living room.

Jobs takes iPad for a spin. James Martin/CNET

You slide to unlock the screen just like an iPhone. He pulls up The New York Times again. Shows how you can scroll up and down, zoom with his fingers.

10:16 a.m.: He clicks the Safari bookmark bar to pick other sites like Time.com and Fandango. He stresses that you get the "whole web site" not just a mobile version of these sites.

10:17 a.m.: Now onto e-mail. There's a dropdown in-box menu on the left, while the text of emails show up on the right. You can zoom in on images in the body of the email, tap to open PDF attachments.

10:18 a.m.: Now he's pretending to send an e-mail to two of his execs at Apple, Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall.

E-mail attachments on the iPad James Martin/CNET

10:20 a.m.: Photos can be viewed in stacks organized by events, and viewed in portrait or landscape. You sort through by flicking with your finger. A bottom bar looks like a film strip you can scroll through to see all photos in an album. Can organize by faces, places, or events, just like iPhoto.

Editor's note: Meanwhile, CNET's Ina Fried notes that all the tablet chatter has Twitter on a delay. Posts are taking 8 or 9 minutes to show up on the site. Reporter Caroline McCarthy wrote up that story here.

It can also do built-in slideshows from a drop-down menu, which he's demoing now.

Photos on the iPad James Martin/CNET

10:21 a.m.: Now on to music. It has a "built-in iPod," he says.

10:22 a.m.: It plays your music and displays album artwork. You can scroll through your music library from a menu on the left. When you select an album, a pop-up window will show all the songs on that album.

10:23 a.m.: We're getting an iTunes demo now. You can buy movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, and iTunes U stuff.

iTunes on the iPad. James Martin/CNET

10:23 a.m.: He runs through the calendar and contacts real quick. But now he's showing maps.

10:24 a.m.: It works just like Google Maps on an iPhone.

10:25 a.m.: YouTube HD videos are up now. You can watch videos in portrait or landscape.

Nice resolution James Martin/CNET

10:26 a.m.: He shows how you can watch downloaded movies and TV shows, too. With movies (he picked "Star Trek"), you can jump ahead to particular chapters you want to watch from a menu that appears on the left.

10:27 a.m.: He's showing his favorite sequence from "Up" now--a Pixar movie of course.

"And that gives you an overview of what the iPad can do," he says.

10:28 a.m.: He's going to talk specs now. The iPad is 0.5 inches thin and weighs 1.5 pounds. A 9.7-inch IPS display, the same display used in the latest-generation iMac.

10:29 a.m.: It has a full capacitive multitouch screen, and a 1Ghz custom Apple chip called A4. It's the most advanced chip they've done, he says: processor, graphics, i/o memory controller on one chip. It can have 16, 32, or 64GB of SSD storage.

Jobs offers up iPad stats. James Martin/CNET

10:29 a.m.: It has 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an accelerometer, a compass, and 10-hour battery life.

The battery life elicits some enthusiastic applause from the audience.

There's also one month of standby battery life. You can leave it asleep and not use it for 30 days.

Green check James Martin/CNET

10:31 a.m.: Back to software. Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone software, is going to talk to us about the App Store now.

10:32 a.m.: The iPad can run virtually every app unmodified from the App Store. They do that by running them centered and small in the middle of the screen, or they can double the pixels to make them fill the screen of the iPad.

With Facebook, for example, you can play with the standard iPhone app version of it or click the 2x button on the bottom right and the app window blows up to fit the screen.

Facebook on the iPad James Martin/CNET

10:34 a.m.: Forstall demos a game for us. Just like with Facebook, he starts with the app window small and centered on the screen and later selects full screen.

10:35 a.m.: All the apps you already have will work on the iPad. But developers can also modify the apps themselves to fit the screen.

"That's what we did for our apps," Forstall says.

The iPhone SDK now supports development for the iPad as well. The new SDK will come out today.

Apple's Scott Forstall takes the stage to talk apps and the developer kit. James Martin/CNET

10:36 a.m.: There's an iPad simulator included.

10:37 a.m.: Apple will feature apps built specifically for the iPad "front and center," on the App Store, he says.

Some developers who've already had a peek at the iPad SDK are going to show us what they've come up with in a few weeks. First up, Gameloft, a game developer often featured at iPhone events.

10:40 a.m.: A Gameloft representative shows a first-person shooter game that was made for the iPad. Its default is the full-screen mode. Like iPhone games, you can use the accelerometer to navigate and the touch screen to drag items around the screen.

10:40 a.m.: Editor's note: Meanwhile, Apple's stock is down more than 2 percent on the day, trading at around $200 a share (although it is a down day overall for the market).

10:40 a.m.: Now, The New York Times is getting its turn.

10:41 a.m.: Martin Nisenholtz from the NYT has been working with the iPad for three weeks.

10:43 a.m.: They've taken the iPhone app version of the NYT app and make it for the iPad. You can scroll from left to right, save articles to a reading list (which will sync to an iPhone for later reading), tap to change the number of columns, resize text by pinching, and navigate via a bar on the bottom of the screen. You can click "update" and it will automatically bring in the latest stories.

The New York Times on the iPad James Martin/CNET

10:43 a.m.: Now a painting app for the iPhone, called Brushes, is going to be demoed. The developer behind it, Steve Sprang, takes the stage.

10:45 a.m.: You can scroll from left to right through paintings, and with pop-up windows you can pick colors, brushes, and other tools. If you want to share, you can send to Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc.

Brushes app on the iPad James Martin/CNET

Brushes app in action James Martin/CNET

10:46 a.m.: Electronic Arts is getting its turn now.

10:48 a.m.: "Need for Speed," is the game they're showing. They said it took "a very short amount of time" to rework it from the iPhone to the iPad version. That means they can redo all of their iPhone games pretty quickly.

Travis Boatman, a VP for Electronic Arts, demos a car racing game on the iPad. James Martin/CNET

10:49 a.m.: MLB.com is up now.

10:50 a.m.: "We couldn't just take our existing iPhone app and make it bigger," MLB's Chad Evans says.

10:51 a.m.: You can scroll through the scoreboard on the top, see the virtual Gameday version of a game, but with a bunch of screen space you can also watch highlight videos in the same window. On the bottom you can scroll through a team's lineup, click on players and their baseball card pops in a small window.

You can also watch full-screen live video of games.

MLB's Chad Evans demos MLB.com app for the iPad. James Martin/CNET

10:53 a.m.: Jobs is back. He puts a picture of the Kindle on screen. "Amazon's done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle. We're going to stand on their shoulders and go a bit further."

The new app is called iBooks.

10:54 a.m.: You can choose books from what looks like an actual bookshelf. On the upper left is a button that leads to the iBook Store. Can download books right to the iPad. All five major publishers (Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, MacMillan, and Hachette) are on the bookstore starting this afternoon.

Bookshelf on iBooks James Martin/CNET

Now we're getting a demo of the books app.

10:55 a.m.: The user interface is exactly like iTunes or the App Store.

iBooks interface James Martin/CNET

10:56 a.m.: To read a book, you tap on it and it opens to be read via portrait or landscape. Tap anywhere on the right to flip forward in pages, tap on the left to go back. You can also pick up a page and lift it by dragging your finger right to left.

10:57 a.m.: A scroll bar on the bottom shows your progress through the book and what page you're on.

You can also change font and size if you want.

10:58 a.m.: It uses the ePub format. Not just popular books, but textbooks are coming as well.

But he moves on quickly without giving any detail about textbooks.

iBooks on the iPad James Martin/CNET

10:59 a.m.: Now Jobs is talking about iWork, and invites Phil Schiller, senior vice president of product marketing, to give more details.

11:00 a.m.: The iWork team has reworked the software for the iPad, including a brand new version of Keynote to make presentations with touch input only.

Also new versions of Pages and Numbers.

11:02 a.m.: Schiller is demoing those for us now.

Demo of Keynote presentation software. James Martin/CNET

11:09 a.m.: First he runs through all the multitouch features of Keynote. Then he moves on to the way you can create page layouts with Pages by scrolling, do automatic text wrapping by putting images on pages with text already on them, and change column numbers with popup menus. With Numbers, you can also create a spreadsheet with just touch input. You can drag spreadsheet columns by dragging, and add rows of data. By clicking on a column, a pop-up calculator appears to input numbers or calculations.

11:10 a.m.: A quick sidenote while they wrap up that demo: We still haven't heard anything about a cellular connection for this device. Jobs has only indicated that there's Wi-Fi so far.

11:11 a.m.: Back to iWork: Schiller says each iWork application will cost $9.99.

11:12 a.m.: Jobs is back to talk about iTunes. The iPad syncs via USB to a Mac or PC. That will sync your photos, music, contacts, everything--just like an iPod or iPhone.

11:13 a.m.: Now on to wireless networking. All iPads have Wi-Fi. We're also going to have models with 3G, he says. (I guess I spoke too soon.)

11:14 a.m.: It's a "real breakthrough," he says. Two plans: 250MB of data every month for $15.

The second plan: unlimited plan for $30 per month. AT&T is the provider.

Free use of AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots is included too.

11:15 a.m.: Customers don't have to go to an AT&T store to activate it. They can do it right on the iPad. There is no contract; both plans are pre-paid. This also elicits some excited applause.

International 3G plans won't be available until June. All iPads are unlocked. They use GSM micro SIMs.

11:16 a.m.: This summer, there will be "even better deals" for international customers, Jobs says.

11:18 a.m.: The price is coming up now. If you listen to the pundits, we're going to price it under $1,000, he says.

We had a very aggressive price goal, he says.

11:18 a.m.: It's $499.

11:19 a.m.: To start, anyway, at 16GB.

iPad starts at $499. James Martin/CNET

Pricing is: $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB. To get 3G, add $130 to each. So 3G costs are: $629, $729, and $829.

11:20 a.m.: They'll start shipping Wi-Fi models everywhere in 60 days.

The 3G models will be shipping in 90 days.

11:21 a.m.: There are accessories for this thing too. A charging dock you can use to display the iPad in portrait. Also a keyboard dock, so you don't have to use a virtual keyboard all the time.

"When you really need to do a lot of typing, this is the way to go," Jobs says.

Keyboard that also serves as an iPad stand. James Martin/CNET

An iPad stand. James Martin/CNET

11:22 a.m.: A black case is available, too, that can flip open to be a stand for viewing the device.

He's showing us one of their standard marketing videos featuring designer Jonathan Ive, Phil Schiller, and co.

Editor's note: Meanwhile, CNET's Ina Fried just posted a story noting how people must be banging their heads on a wall in Redmond. The company has been working on tablets for 10 years.

11:30 a.m.: The video's over, and Jobs is back.

11:31 a.m.: He says that because 75 million people already own iPod Touches and iPhones, that's all people who already know how to use the iPad.

11:32 a.m.: He says 125 million credit cards are already hooked up to iTunes and the App Store, so they're scaled and ready for new customers.

11:34 a.m.: There's a hands-on area where we can go and check out the iPad for ourselves.

11:35 a.m.: And that's it. Thanks for following our blog today. We'll have lots of follow-up coverage and analysis, so please check back with CNET throughout the day.

The iPad is now up on Apples' site at http://www.apple.com/ipad/.

One note, though: You can't order it yet from Apple. There's just a button to be notified when it is available for order

Up close with the Apple iPad (photos)

See all photos