Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs has unveiled the iPad, a tablet-style computer that resembles the iPhone, but larger.
"It's so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smart phone," Jobs said Wednesday at the device's highly anticipated debut in San Francisco.
Apple had kept its "latest creation" tightly under wraps, though many analysts had correctly speculated that it would be a one-piece tablet computer with a big touch screen, larger than an iPhone but smaller than a laptop.
The iPad has a 9.7-inch touch screen. It is a half-inch thick, weighs 1.5 pounds and comes with 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of flash memory storage. The device comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology, but no mention was immediately made of a data connection through a wireless carrier.
Jobs said the battery lasts for 10 hours, and that the device can sit for a month on standby without needing a charge.
The CEO demonstrated how the iPad is used for surfing the Web with Apple's Safari browser. He typed an e-mail using an on-screen keyboard and flipped through photo albums by flicking his finger across the screen.
Jobs said the iPad will also be better for reading books, playing games and watching video than either a laptop or a smart phone.
The iPad comes with software including a calendar, maps, a video player and iPod software for playing music. All seem to have been slightly redesigned to take advantage of the iPad's bigger screen.
Apple will sell its iPad starting at $499. Some models will be sold with data plans from AT&T, with no contract required.
Tablet computers have existed for a decade, with little success. Jobs acknowledged Apple will have to work to convince consumers who already have smart phones and laptops that they need this gadget.
"In order to really create a new category of devices, those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks," Jobs said. "Otherwise it has no reason for being."
Applications designed for the iPhone can run on the iPad. Apple is also releasing updated tools for software developers to help them build iPhone and iPad programs.
"We think it's going to be a whole 'nother gold rush for developers as they build applications for the iPad," said Scott Forstall, an iPhone software executive.
A new newspaper reader program from The New York Times and a game from Electronic Arts Inc. were also demonstrated during the event. The audience, which included many journalists and bloggers, clapped and even gave Jobs a standing ovation.
Shares in Apple fell $2.75, or 1.3 percent, to $203.19 in afternoon trading Wednesday. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company's shares have more than doubled over the past year, partly on anticipation of the tablet computer.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)