Jobs unveils iPad 2: New Apple tablet out March 11

In a surprise move, Steve Jobs himself took to the stage Wednesday to unveil Apple’s new iPad 2 tablet, which starts shipping March 11 in the United States and March 25 in 26 other countries.

The company also announced its latest operating system for phones and tablets, iOS 4.3, which will also be available on March 11, and a new video making and editing app called iMovie.

Prior to presenting iPad 2, Jobs boasted of widespread use of the Apple tablet and its overwhelming market lead.

He said Apple “flummoxed” rivals in the tablet market, and poked fun at Android’s 100 tablet apps, after announcing that 65,000 apps are now available to iPad.

Steve Jobs himself presented the thinner, lighter iPad2. Photo grab from the Apple website.

iPad 2 boasts nine times faster graphics and two times faster processing power via a new, low-power A5 dual-core processor, two cameras (front and back), and a built-in gyroscope in a new package that is thinner and lighter than the first Apple tablet.

iPad 2 weighs 1.3 lbs., down from 1.5 lbs., and is 33 percent thinner at 8.8 mm.

Jobs said that Apple will roll out iPad 2 units in black and white “from day one”.

Crediting efforts by Apple’s engineering team, Jobs said that the battery life of iPad 2 will be the same as the first iPad: 10 hours.

Prices won’t change. WIFI-only units will cost $499 for 16GB, $599 for the 32GB and $699 for the 64GB. WIFI and 3G models are still priced at $629 for 16GB, $729 for 32GB and $829 for 64GB.

Scott Forstall said iOS 4.3 has “great enhancement and features”, including faster and better performance by the Mac browser Safari. Thanks to the Nitro Javascript engine. iOS 4.3 also allows sharing of music, movies and TV shows between Apple computers and iOS devices.

Still on the iPad, iOS 4.3 has improved both the Photo Booth and FaceTime by providing special effects. iOS 4.3 would allow users to switch from the front and back cameras of the iPad 2 when using FaceTime.

A highlight of iOS 4.3 is the new function that lets iPhone4 users share 3G access via WIFI.

Apple also presented a GarageBand for iPad featuring touch instruments like the grand piano, guitars and drums; guitar amps and effects, 8-track recording, and lets users to email AAC versions of their music.