For those who have been living under a technology rock, the iPad went on pre-order today and is set for a release date of April 3rd. With a hard launch date finally in place new details have come to light about the yet to be held device. The most talked about addition thus far is the addition of a Screen Orientation Lock switch on the side which replaces the formerly announced mute switch. Personally this is a feature I wish they would build into the iPhone as well. I can't tell you how many times I've been texting while laying in bed and my phone can't decide if it wants to stay in landscape mode or not. Please Apple, even if you don't add a hard switch to the next iPhone, make a software option to turn off the accelerometer in the settings menu.
Additionally more information about the data plan for 3G users has also come up. It's confirmed that any user subscribing to the 250MB plan per month ($15) will receive three separate warning notifications when the iPad is approaching it's limit, popping up respectively at 20%, 10%, and 0% remaining. At any point a customer can chose to upgrade to the unlimited plan for $30. All can be done straight from the iPad itself with a credit card, no need to go into any store or call anyone, you can do it straight on the go. Combined with the ability to cancel it at any time I think it's safe to say the 3G model is the one to buy. As an added bonus, just like the iPhone, AT&T is throwing in its access to over 20,000 hotspots, what's not to love?
Some of the less notable details include a new terrain view being added to Google Maps, playback support for AVI & MJPEG files, and a directly integrated Voice Over feature with iBooks. Voice Over is available on all of the default applications but it appears that it will be taken to another level with iBooks. It's also confirmed that DRM-Free ebooks will also be supported through upload via iTunes. MobileMe users will also be pleased to know that all of the features being enjoyed on the iPhone will also be brought to the iPad, including the Remote Lock/Wipe, Find My [iPad], and the Send Notifications features.
The iWork apps received some attention and sharing details too. Originally the apps were announced with the ability to import and read numerous formats including MS Office files but lacked the ability to export in anything other then iWork Files or PDFs. Well good news for iPad Pages users, the app will actually be able to export as Word files also. While Numbers & Keynote exports will still be restricted to their respective formats the addition gives me faith that Apple will eventually support Excel & PowerPoint as well. As a work-around I'm sure iWork documents created on the iPad would be convertible via their full application on your main computer. Apple's site also encourages users to sign up for the iWork.com public beta as files can be shared directly through it, it's been up for over a year so hopefully those beta training wheels will be coming off soon.
Overall it's been a pretty successful day for the iPad as early reports are stating 50,000 units were sold in the first two hours of pre-sale and I'm sure the buzz is only going to continue.