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Apple unveils iPad for March launch

UPDATE: Electronic Arts, Gameloft join San Francisco event to show off games, internet, video, music and eBooks tablet

Apple's Steve Jobs has unveiled the company's much-rumoured tablet device, the Apple iPad, at an event in San Francisco.

Boasting similar features the the iPhone, the device is targeting a space between the smart phone and laptop markets, and will allow users to access web content, play games, music, video and eBooks, as well as browse photos and support multiple applications.

"iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price," said Jobs. "iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before."

The hardware is 0.5 inches thick and weighs 0.7 kilos. It has a 9.7-inch IPS display with multitouch sensors, a 1GHz Apple A4 chip, 16-64GB of flash storage, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 30-pin connector, speaker, microphone, accelerometer and compass.

Apple claims the iPad will have a 10 hour battery life.

Like the iPhone, the iPad features an accelerometer and keyboard, with users swiping functions, tapping and pinching to manipulate the screen.

Scott Forstall, SVP of iPhone Software joined Jobs on stage to show off software support for the iPad. He said that the device can run almost all of the 140,000 applications currently on the App Store, in either 1:1 pixel in the centre of the screen, or by doubling up to full screen in low resolution with a "2x" button.

Forstall demoed ESPN game Snocross, and said that developers are able to rewrite their games to take advantage of the larger iPad display, with an updated software development kit released today. The SDK also includes an emulator to run iPad apps on the Mac. Applications designed specifically for the iPad will be highlighted in the App Store.

Gameloft reps joined Apple on stage to show off Nova, which featured the ability to move its on-screen D-pad, and use multiple fingers on the touch screen to draw a target around on-screen enemies and attack them simultaneously.

Electronic Arts demoed a version of Need for Speed, with users able to tap inside the on-screen car for a dashboard view, change gears and see the rear-view mirror.

Aside form games, a iBooks app already has support from Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Macmillan.

A 3G version of the iPad in the US will offer 250MB of data month for $15, or unlimited data for $30, through carrier AT&T, with free WiFi access. The 3G service can be activated on the iPad and with no contract can be cancelled at any time. International deals are expected to be in place by June.

The 16GB WiFi iPad will cost $499, the 32GB $599 and the 64GB will retail at $699 in the US. For 3G enabled iPads, prices will be $629 (16GB), $729 (32GB) and $829 (64GB).

WiFi SKUs will be ready to ship in March, with 3G models a month later, said Jobs.

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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