Apple officially launches the iPad 2

Digg founder Kevin Rose in early January fearlessly predicted that the iPad 2 would come out by first week of February or on February 1 to be specific. Well, it was close (the month, not the day). Apple has officially announced the iPad 2 on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 (videos here).
Apple iPad 2
Despite being on medical leave since January, Steve Jobs took the center stage in the invitation-only event held in San Francisco, California. Tech people who were present during the launch reported that Apple's chief executive officer received a standing ovation.

And after so much abuzz, Apple’s latest iPad, the iPad 2, is now official. What's it made of - specs, features, availability and price? Here:
  • iOS version 4.3 (also available for the GSM iPhone 4)
  • 1GHz A5 processor - Dual Core (2x faster CPU speed and 9x faster graphics speed)
  • Storage capacity: 16GB/32GB/64GB
  • Models: Wi-Fi/Wi-Fi + 3G
  • Front and back cameras
  • Built-in gyroscope
  • 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
  • 1/3 (33%) thinner than the original iPad
  • 8.8 mm thick from 13 mm – thinner than the iPhone 4
  • Weighs 1.3 lbs
  • In black and white colors
  • U.S. networks: Verizon and AT&T
  • Price: Starts at $499 (16GB Wi-Fi model); $629 (16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model)
  • Photobooth - a free photo editing, photo effects application
  • HDMI-out
  • Improved Airplay and iTunes home-sharing
  • Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • Supports Facetime video calling

Facetime for iPad 2
There's also a new feature called the “Nitro.” It's a new Javascript engine that improves performance of the Safari browser.

And then there's the new iMovie for iPad that allows users to edit videos and make movies. It features a precision editor, AirPlay to Apple TV, multitrack audio recording and HD video sharing, among others. Costs $4.99.

The Garageband for iPad 2 has enabled touch capability on virtual instruments such as grand piano, drums, bass, organ, guitars. It features 8 track recording and mixing, guitar amps and effects, 250+ loops and is compatible with the Mac version. Costs $4.99 and will be released on March 11, same with the iMovie app.

Steve Jobs also announced that the iPad 2 has “a brand new, self-cleaning smart cover that doubles as a reading stand.” The micro-fiber cover made of polyurethane, an extremely durable and flexible synthetic material which is used to make suits for astronauts, cleans the screen every time you close the tablet. It will be sold separately for $39. The leather cover, meanwhile, will cost $69.

Apple revealed that the iPad 2 will ship on March 11 in the United States and on March 25 in other countries which include Belgium, Poland, Canada and the Czech Republic.

Going back to Kevin Rose. He was right, the new iPad 2 has a front and back facing camera. But, contrary to what he said, there's no Retina display.