According to Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, their goal was to create a new class of products that lay between laptops and smartphones, and was better than either of those at performing certain tasks. Jobs listed tasks at which they wished their new product (the iPad) to excel: browsing the web, e-mail, photo sharing, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, being an e-book. In many ways this is a rather strange list. It presupposes that the current technology of either laptops or smartphones are somehow failing at these tasks. It is not clear that this is the case, but time will tell whether or not Apple have, yet again, created a new class of product.
Certainly the new tablet looks good, and it certainly is thin. Initial reviews suggest that it is fast and light, that it has excellent "touch pad" sensitivity, that it lacks a USB port, and that it has facial recognition software built into it, which might just be a fad, or could well be the wave of the future. Costs have not yet been released, but rumors suggest a price in the range of $700-$1,000, which makes it more expensive than a netbook or a Kindle type e-book reader.
Certainly the iPad contains some neat new technology, and apparently Apple got a slew of patents just before the launch, including one entitled "Proximity detector in handheld device." The abstract of this patent reads:
Proximity based systems and methods that are implemented on an electronic device are disclosed. The method includes sensing an object spaced away and in close proximity to the electronic device. The method also includes performing an action in the electronic device when an object is sensed.
That sounds pretty neat! No doubt there is more information to come on this and many more reviews will be written as more folks get to try this out, but certainly it sounds as if Apple have once again created a new market. It makes you wonder how they keep doing this time after time - perhaps there's an app for that?