People may be able to buy their iPads today, but they won’t actually get their hands on the much-anticipated devices until early next month, and later if they opted for 3G connectivity. But Apple isn’t without a heart, so the company revealed some new specific details about the tablet on the iPad micro-site, according to MacWorld.
Included in the informational appetizer are details regarding the 3G data plans available for the device, the iBooks application and how it will work, a small hardware change that should make a pretty big difference, and a couple other eyebrow-raising late-game additions.
The iPad benefits from having to deal with only two available data options at launch in the U.S. Because it knows exactly how much data you should have, it can provide much more useful usage information. You get access to an iPad Cellular Data Plan window on the 3G-enabled devices, from which you can modify, sign up for, or even cancel your AT&T data plan.
The iPad will let you know when you’ve got only 20 percent and 10 percent remaining of your 250MB if that’s what you’re working with, and when you’re completely out. From there, you can top off by adding more data, or even upgrade to the full unlimited plan at $30 a month. Sure beats sitting on hold waiting for an AT&T representative. There’s also evidence that you’ll be able to manage an international data plan from the screen in the future, but Apple hasn’t revealed any details regarding this yet.
The actual iBooks app won’t be installed by default on shipping iPads, probably owing to the fact that it might not be available at all on international versions of the device, at least if the lack of a mention of the app on the iPad pages in other countries indicates anything. Instead, you’ll be able to download it from the App Store.
Good news for public domain fans: any free ePub format books you download from elsewhere can be synced to the iPad via iTunes and read on your device. And Kindle fans will appreciate the ability to highlight and look-up any word in any book, either on Wikipedia, the dictionary, or via web search, just by touching and holding.
Screen Orientation Lock
I absolutely hate using the iPhone while lying in bed for a lot of things because many times, a screen lock is a software feature and isn’t necessarily available for all applications. That means that it’ll constantly switch to landscape mode, despite that not being at all what I want it to do.
The iPad solves that problem via a hardware switch above the volume controls on the side of the device that locks the screen’s orientation into whatever mode it’s in currently.
More accessibility options have been added, including the ability to switch audio to mono and route it through just one headphone for users who may only have hearing in one ear. iBooks are also apparently covered by VoiceOver, so that users can have them read to them by Apple’s emotionless robot drones.
Perhaps the biggest little detail added in the iPad’s specifications is support for AVI videos, using the MotionJPEG format. Resolution for the files supported is 1280×720, which is HD, and PCM stereo audio is also part of the deal. Best of all, the data rates supported run up to 35Mbps, which is well beyond even the Apple TV’s standards. Looks like Apple has really big video plans for this capable little device. Wonder if this has anything to do with all of its recent talks with TV studios?
So now you’re more informed about that pre-order you’ve made or are thinking about making. And now I only feel more keenly the still-distant international ship date for the device. Thanks a ton, Apple.