The original iPad made its debut with iOS 3.2. That OS’ limitations seem prehistoric today. You couldn’t bounce between applications with multitasking. You couldn’t organize applications into folders. And support for document printing and AirPlay streaming of music, videos, and photos didn’t arrive until November 2010.

At launch, the new iPad comes with iOS 5.1. Recently added features such as iMessage, Newsstand, Notifications, and Twitter integration are all included, along with support for Apple’s free iCloud online backup service.

One sticking point in the original iPad that Apple hasn’t addressed in the new iPad is Adobe Flash support for Apple’s Safari Web browser. Apple seems dead set against supporting Adobe’s popular tool for presenting video and graphics on the Web, and without it, some corners of the Web are still inaccessible on the iPad.

To Apple’s credit, even the maker of Flash (Adobe) has conceded that HTML5 is a better solution for presenting content on mobile devices going forward. As such, the Web is steadily bending toward greater compatibility with the iPad, and the issue of Flash compatibility seems less contentious than it once was.

In terms of browser features, the iPad’s Safari browser matches what you’ll find from the best competing tablets. With Google’s recent improvements to Android’s Chrome Web browser in Android 4.0, Apple now has some tough competition.

As an e-reader, well what can I say? The new iPad speaks for itself. Again, the Retina Display intrudes out conversation. The 332 pixels per inch make newspaper or book or look like a printed paper with such thick pixel density.

Every major e-book retailer offers an iPad app, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, Stanza, and Apple’s own iBooks.

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