Steve Jobs Appears at Apple iPad 2 Event

VIDEO: Apples popular product gets upgrade to answer competitors tablets.
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Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a rare appearance today in his signature jeans and black shirt at his company's iPad 2 event San Francisco, taking the stage to a standing ovation.

"We've been working on this product for a while and I just didn't want to miss today," he told the crowd.

As expected, Jobs unveiled Apple's next-generation tablet computer, the iPad 2. The latest iPad features a new design and a faster chip than the original model. It is also a third thinner than the original -- even thinner than the iPhone 4 -- and lighter, weighing in at 1.3 pounds.

The iPad 2 includes a front-facing camera for video chats and a rear-facing camera for taking pictures.

The new model will be available in the U.S. on March 11 and will cost the same as the previous iPad. Depending on storage space and 3G connectivity, it will cost $499-$829.

Today was Jobs' first public appearance in an official capacity since announcing in January that he was taking a medical leave from the company, marking the second time in the past few years the 55-year-old has taken leave for medical reasons.

In 2004, doctors successfully treated Jobs for a rare form of pancreatic cancer, and last year it was revealed that he had a liver transplant at a Memphis, Tenn., hospital.

For months, industry watchers have been buzzing about Apple's newest iPad, as well as the health of the CEO behind it.

IN PHOTOS: STEVE JOBS THROUGH THE YEARS

iPad 2: Different Color, TV Hook-Ups

"While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we're launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again," Jobs said in a statement announced in the iPad2 release.

The battery life of the new iPad will also be the same as the original's -- about 10 hours when it's actively being used for surfing, reading or social networking and a month on standby.

The iPad 2 will come in black and white versions and supports both AT&T and Verizon connections.

To protect the new device, Apple also introduced a "Smart Cover" that attaches to the front with a self-aligning magnetic hinge. The cover is available in a range of colors ($39 for polyurethane and $69 for leather) and safeguards the iPad's screen without sacrificing style or adding weight.

The company also announced an HDMI video mirroring cable that lets people connect their iPads to high-definition televisions. With the $39 accessory, iPad owners can watch videos up to 1080p in resolution on a larger display screen.

On March 11, Apple will also release its newest operating system, iOS4.3, which includes a faster Safari Web browser, an updated AirPlay music-streaming feature and a new iTunes feature to play content from a home desktop over Wi-Fi.

For iPhone 4 owners, iOS4.3 includes a hotspot program to share a cellular data connection over Wi-Fi.

Apple also introduced two new content creating applications, iMovie and GarageBand, both of which cost $4.99.

With iMovie, iPad owners can shoot and edit video from their iPads and then post the productions to YouTube, Facebook and other sharing sites. For music-lovers who can't play instruments, GarageBand transforms the iPad into several touch instruments and a recording studio. Using multi-touch gestures, users can play the keyboard, guitar, drum and other instruments.

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