Software and Performance

The new iPad ships with iOS 5.1, a minor update that doesn't particularly warrant a full discussion. In short, Apple's mobile OS has improved audio when watching TV shows and movies on the iPad, a redesigned camera app, updated network indicators for iPhones on AT&T and adds a camera icon on the lock screen of virtually every device except the iPad.

There aren't too many applications that specifically support the new Retina display as of writing, but the handful of apps that do are pretty impressive. It's also worth noting that even if an app doesn't fully support the iPad's super high-res screen, it might still use assets designed for the iPhone's Retina display in the meantime.

Apple's robust image editing software iPhoto is available in the App Store for $4.99. The app lets you select a picture from your camera roll or other album and edit it using one of five categories: Crop & Straighten, Exposure, Color, Brushes and Effects. I left the tool tips on in each screenshot to give you a better idea of everything that is possible in this app and as you can see, there are a wealth of different options available to improve your photos.

I used iPhoto to edit some pictures snapped in Las Vegas during CES 2012 and a few others from a recent photo shoot. I experimented with different options in each scene but ultimately discovered I am partial to black and white and tilt shift effects.

iPhoto is one of my new favorite apps for the iPad. Unlike some other basic editors that only have a few effects, iPhoto offers some serious adjustments in a user-friendly interface that anyone can quickly pick up on. I wouldn't think twice about editing photos in iPhoto if I didn't have access to Photoshop on my PC. The Retina display lets you load large resolution photos and retain the same level of detail during editing.

In addition to new apps for the third-generation iPad, several app developers have been updating existing offerings for the new Retina display. The Daily looks better than ever thanks to the crisp text and compelling images. If you haven't already guessed, it's virtually impossible to spot pixels or jagged edges on text with this new display. Even when zooming in, there's nothing but smooth lines. The iPad 2's low resolution was one of our major complaints about the device.

Apple impressed many onlookers with its Infinity Blade: Dungeons demo during the iPad press event. This Diablo III lookalike seems to really push the slate's quad-core graphics, but unfortunately the game hasn't yet been released. Instead, Chair Entertainment has updated the graphics in Infinity Blade 2 to support the Retina display.

Indeed, the revised graphics do look pretty juicy, but I feel the team could have done a better job. The gameplay is fine but menu items were seemingly untouched and appear very pixelated on the high-res screen. Surely it couldn't have been too difficult to include higher resolution renderings of these objects too? Without it, the game feels somewhat incomplete, as if it was thrown together at the last minute.

Real Racing 2 is another title that received a high-res graphics upgrade. I have no complaints here, as everything looks to be solid and fits the screen perfectly. Even non-gaming apps like Pandora have received the Retina treatment and we expect this trend to continue over the coming weeks and months as other developers migrate to Retina display support.

The new iPad is generally very fast and smooth -- especially in graphically demanding apps, courtesy of its quad-core GPU -- but apps like Mail and iPhoto could use the increased horsepower that two extra processing cores would have delivered (if the A6 processor rumors had been true).

Benchmarks

We ran a handful of benchmark tests comparing processing capabilities of the new iPad versus the iPad 2. Higher numbers is better in all tests.

Benchmark Test iPad 2 iPad (3rd-gen)
GL Benchmark
Fill Test (warm up) 999,393,728 texels/sec 1,978,408,960 texels/sec
GLBenchmark 2.1 Pro (offscreen) 146 fps 249 fps
Rightware Browsermark
Result 101,174 99,963
SunSpider 0.9.1
JavaScript Benchmark 1798.4ms 1823.1ms
Geekbench 2.2.7
Result 765 760