During today's event, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage to announce, first and foremost, the third generation iPad (which is known as, simply, "iPad") as well as related iOS apps and a new and improved third generation Apple TV.
It turns out that the rumors leading up to the new iPad's unveiling were true; the new unit sports an improved Retina display with four times the number of pixels as the earlier iPads. The new screen has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels and features notably improved color saturation as compared to the earlier devices. In order to push so many pixels around the screen, Apple has utilized their new A5X processor, a more powerful unit than the earlier A5, that features a quad-core GPU, bringing twice the number of graphics cores of the iPad 2 to bear on pixel- and polygon-pushing tasks. Given these specs, the A5X GPU configuration should be virtually identical to that of the Sony PSVita. Presumably the A5X features two CPU-cores, as did the A5 before it.
During the event, Cook brought several guest speakers on stage from various software studios, including Namco Game Design Director James Shelton and Epic Games President Mike Capps. Shelton demonstrated Namco's upcoming aerial combat game Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy, while Capps took the audience on a tour of Epic's upcoming Infinity Blade: Dungeons. Both titles were an impressive demonstration of gaming on the new, twice-the-resolution Retina display of the new iPad. (Well, as much as they could be on a studio projector with a lower resolution than the new iPad, itself!)
After the main event, attendees were given the opportunity for a hands-on with the new iPad and to chat with several high-level figures, including senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller, about the latest iOS device.
Upon picking up the new device for the first time, the thing that strikes you right away is, unsurprisingly, the clarity of the screen. Indeed, the experience of using the new iPad is much the same as using an iPhone with Retina display as compared to an earlier iPhone or iPod touch. It's striking, and in the best of ways. The jump in resolution, I noticed, was most visible in bringing up web pages in Mobile Safari, where content had the clarity of pages in a magazine. To me, the new iPad feels physically identical to the iPad 2, as far as weight and size.
I spent a short period of time with Air Supremacy and, there, saw high framerates with numerous aerial enemies on-screen, rendered quite a bit more sharply than I am accustomed to from an iPad game. I think that Infinity Blade: Dungeon might actually be a better demonstration of the design intricacy and minute detail that the screen can deliver, but I did not see that title, in person, unfortunately.
The device unveiled today brings unprecedented video fidelity to what was already one of the best gaming platforms out there -- the iPad. It's four times the pixels, with twice the graphics power of the iPad 2. All of us here at TouchArcade are anxious to see what developers have in store for Apple's new flagship iOS device.
UPDATE: My Flickr photo gallery of the third-generation iPad event can be seen here.