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Third-generation iPad: What you need to know

Macworld Staff | March 9, 2012
With Apple’s Wednesday introduction of the third-generation iPad, many of the questions people and pundits have spent the past few months obsessing over have been answered—but not all.

Does it still have a dock-connector port?

Yes, the new iPad still uses Apple’s 30-pin dock-connector port, so a dock-connector cable will continue to be the only cable you can plug directly into your iPad.

Are there any other other hardware changes?

Not really. By and large, the new iPad looks pretty much exactly like the iPad 2—at least until you get a load of the Retina display.

What about software? Does the new iPad have Siri?

When Apple introduced the iPhone 4S, it introduced two software features that are often conflated: Siri and dictation. There’s no Siri in the new iPad, likely because Siri requires an always-on Internet connection and, unlike with an iPhone, that’s not guaranteed with an iPad. However, the dictation features have made the move. Just as with the iPhone 4S, the new iPad features a microphone button on its virtual keyboard. Press it and speak, and your words will be translated into written text. Like the 4S, the new iPad’s dictation feature supports U.S., British, and Australian English, as well as French, German, and Japanese.

Any other software improvements?

A few minor changes accompanied iOS 5.1, which launched alongside the new iPad, such as the ability to delete photos from Photo Stream, camera face detection now highlighting all faces in a picture, a slightly redesigned Camera app UI for the iPad, Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match users, improved audio for movies and TV shows, podcast controls for playback speed and a 30-second rewind for the iPad, and fixes for bugs affecting battery life.

Does the new iPad still have magnets built-in? Does the Smart Cover still work?

Yes, the new model has the same magnetic Sleep/Wake feature as the iPad 2. And while the version of the Smart Cover that Apple is selling today has a different model number than the one originally designed for the iPad 2, Apple’s website claims the new version works with both iPad models. We suspect this means that the original Smart Cover models will fit the new iPad, as well.

Can I use my iPad 2 case with the new iPad?

The iPad 2 and the new iPad are each 9.5 inches tall and 7.31 inches wide, but as we noted above, the new models are 0.03 inches thicker. This difference is small enough that most cases designed for the iPad 2 should fit the new model, although cases that fit exceptionally snugly, or are designed with especially fine precision, might have issues.

So it’s called the iPad 3, right?

Actually, no. For whatever reason, Apple is publicly calling this new model iPad—the same name as the original iPad. While some people take issue with this confusing nomenclature, others see no problem with iPad, iPad 2, and iPad again. We suspect that once Apple publishes support articles for the new model, the company will use something like iPad (third generation) to differentiate—Apple’s main iPad page does use third-generation iPad once—but the public name is simply iPad.


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