In-depth

Need to Know: Apple's iPad

Got questions about Apple's latest release? Here's everything you need to know about the new Apple iPad tablet computer.

Steve Jobs has finally revealed the much-awaited Apple tablet, the iPad.

While it might look like a massive iPhone, it's not - not quite, anyway.

So what is this iPad thingy, anyway?

The iPad is Apple's take on the tablet computer. It's really the first such consumer-friendly tablet to hit the market from any major manufacturer. The devices are common for business and industry, and many laptops feature swiveling touch screen displays, but the iPad is pretty unique, for the time being.

iPad

It's hard not to think "big iPhone" when looking at it, as Apple has kept the design similar to its iconic handset. It's just 1.5 pounds in weight, and half an inch thick, with a 9.7in touchscreen display.

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It will run Apple's own chip, a 1GHz A4. Connectivity will be either via 802.11n Wi-Fi or 3G. Apple is promising 10 hours of battery life, and a month on standby.

That all sounds great. Is it?

The iPad is missing a few bits. Like the iPhone, it doesn't run Adobe's Flash. This is a bit of a problem for a device which Jobs claims lets you "hold the internet in your hands." A lot of the internet uses Flash, especially many ads on websites - so claims that this will solve publishing's woes might be a bit far-fetched.

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Also like the iPhone, it doesn't allow multi-tasking. You can pretty much only run one thing at a time.

Apple also failed to include a camera, USB port, or SD card reader - all of which are a bit problematic for people wanting to use it to display photos, which is a shame, as it looks rather good at that.

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Being a tablet, it also has no keyboard... but that's how it's supposed to be.

So... how do I type on it?

The iPad has a touch screen keyboard, just like the iPhone. Flip the device horizontally, and the keyboard flips to offer a wider keypad. Typing looks pretty easy, but you'll have to balance the iPad on something - Steve Jobs looked pretty awkward sitting on a couch, balancing it on his knee.

Apple will also offer a docking station for the iPad, which will hold up the device like a standard screen and include a full-size, mechanical keyboard.

iPad dock

What does it do?

As it runs essentially the same shiny OS as the iPhone, it also runs iPhone apps - so anything that works on the handset, will work on the tablet too. Apple's SDK has also been updated, which means developers can design apps specifically for the iPad.

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That means you can expect a whole host of games - the announcement showed off some cool driving ones - as well as things like Facebook apps.

iPad apps

Apple also unveiled a tweaked version of iWork, so you can type, make presentations, and get into your spreadsheets, all using the touch screen. It didn't explain exactly why you'd want to do that, however.

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