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Steve jobs made a surprise appearance to launch the next iteration of its iPad tablet device –  iPad 2.

The new version of the device is thinner and lighter than the original, launched last year, as well as promising faster operation and graphics thanks to a new chip.

The iPad 2 boasts the same battery life as the original. And is a third thinner and 15 percent lighter. Apple has maintained the same 9.7-inch display, letting down fans who were expecting the new tablet to get the retina display feature the iPhone 4 boasts.

As rumours correctly predicted, the iPad 2 sports both a front-facing and rear-facing camera which will come in useful for another new iPad feature FaceTime, which was first introduce on the iPhone 4 last year.

The rear facing camera can shoot in 720p HD and among the new apps to use this function was an iPad version of the video editing app iMovie.

On the inside, apple has ramped up the sped with a new dual-core A5 processor it claims boasts “blazing fast performance and stunning graphics”.

Jobs also demonstrated a number of accessories to go with the new tablet including a  Smart Cover which comes in a range of polyurethane and rich leather colours.

With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “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.”

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