Apple CEO Steve Jobs took a break from his medical leave Wednesday to unveil a sequel to the company's best-selling iPad. "We've been working on this product awhile, and I didn't want to miss today," said Jobs, who in January said he would take an indefinite leave from the company he co-founded and put Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, in charge of day-to-day operations. Jobs showed off the iPad 2, which will be available March 11, during a packed event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Improvements in the second-generation device largely tracked with the rumors preceding its introduction. It is one-third thinner than its predecessor - slimmer than the iPhone 4 - and 15 percent lighter. A front camera allows for video chatting, and a rear camera can shoot high-definition (720p) video.
Similar to its ancestor, iPad 2 will come in Wi-Fi only and 3G versions, each available at 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage. The models will be priced identically to their equivalents in the original device, starting at $499. But unlike the original, iPad 2 is available in two colors - black and white.
"We're going to be shipping white from Day 1," Jobs said to laughter and applause, alluding to the white iPhone 4 that was announced but never released because of unspecified technical problems.
In addition to the iPad, Apple showed off a handful of accessories and apps. Steve took advantage of his opportunity to whack rival Google, mocking that the iPad had 65,000 apps available for it, and Google's new Android Honeycomb OS only has about 100.
Instead, Apple actually announced a tiny partnership with Facebook: It's one of the sites you'll be able to automatically upload video to from the iPad's new iMovie app.