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Apple offers guided tours of iPad software with new videos

In-depth video demonstrations of the iPad software including Safari browser, iBooks, Keynote, Pages and Numbers have been posted on Apple's Web site days before the hardware will be available for consumers to purchase.

The new Guided Tours section of Apple's promotional iPad Web site offers video previews of the native software included on the iPad, as well as the four Apple-created iPad applications available for download on day one from the App Store. iBooks is a free application available to U.S. users that allows the purchase and download of e-books for the iPad, while the iWork suite will be available in three separate applications for $9.99 each.

The iBooks tutorial encourages users to "discover the joy of reading all over again." It shows off the application's ability to open titles from the bookshelf and flip pages "just like a book."

Users can also change text size, choose a different font, search the text, or look up words in a built-in dictionary. A book's table of contents also allows users to jump between chapters.

Viewing iBooks in landscape allows viewing of two pages side by side, and flipping the screen rotation lock on the side of the hardware allows users to read while laying on their side.

Also of interest to many will be the iWork suite of applications, including Keynote, Pages and Numbers. The new software is built from the ground up just for the iPad. All three applications are featured in their own separate videos.

The Keynote video notes that the software only works in landscape mode because its slides are horizontal. The video touts that Keynote allows users to create "amazing presentations" including pictures, charts and graphs and dynamic visuals.

The Pages video claims it's "easy to dive right in and start writing," with 16 Apple-designed templates included with the software. It also notes the ability to dock the iPad with the accessory keyboard dock, or use a wireless Bluetooth keyboard, for those who have "lots of typing to do." Files can be exported as Pages, PDF and Word documents.

Like Pages, Numbers also comes with 16 Apple-designed templates. The dynamic virtual keyboard adapts for entry of dates, numbers, text or mathematical formulas. The integrated calculator also includes 250 functions.

iPad 1

The videos show many of the dynamic uses of the iPad, including its ability to be docked and utilized as a digital picture frame. The "Photos" tour states that the device makes it feel like users are holding their pictures right in their hands. "Using the big multi-touch purpose on iPad feels completely natural," the narrator states.

The video also details the categorization features in the Photos application, sorted by Events, Faces and Places. It also shows the direct-input capabilities with the iPad connection kit. Apple began taking preorders for the hardware accessory on Saturday.

iPad 2

A number of the videos note that the virtual keyboard in landscape mode is "nearly the same size as a notebook keyboard," making it easy to type on.

The video detailing the Mail application shows how attachments like PDFs and Microsoft Word documents can be opened natively within the Mail application. It also demonstrates the different portrait and landscape views of the application.