We're settled in our seats at BBC TV Centre in London, waiting for a live hook-up with Apple in San Francisco. You can read instant updates of what's happening at Apple's launch event tonight in our running news story and follow us @whathifi on Twitter. In the meantime, I'll bring you pictures of the event as it unfolds.

First surprise: Steve Jobs, who is supposed to be on medical leave, appears on stage. Seems he didn't want to miss the show:

 

Apple now has 200 million accounts across iTunes, App and eBooks Stores - all with a credit card attached.

 

And here it is: New iPad2 is 33% thinner than original iPad – just 8.8mm thick, which is thinner than the iPhone 4. It weighs 1.3lb compared to 1.5 for first iPad. Comes in black or white.

 

iPad2 uses new Apple A5 dual-core processor - up to twice as fast CPU, but up to nine times faster graphics; all with same long battery life. Same pricing and capacity options for iPad 2 as original iPad - 16/32/64GB versions, with wi-fi and 3G options. iPad 2 launches in UK on March 25th. US gets it even earlier - from March 11th.

 

There's a new version of iOS for iPad and iPhone. Version 4.3 will enable Apple AirPlay video sharing and enhanced iTunes sharing options. We're going to try and get more info on that later - sounds interesting. 

Other iOS 4.3 enhancements include faster web browsing and being able to use an iPhone 4 as an internet hotspot for your laptop or iPad. So you could ditch your 3G dongle.... iOS 4.3 update due on March 11th.

 

There's also new HDMI output cable for iPad2 – mirror your iPad output (up to 1080p) to a TV. It's a $39 accessory: 

Simple HDMI adapter plugs into the iPad2:

 

Front view of iPad2, available in black or white, take your pick:

 

 Side and rear view, it's just 8.8mm thick – thinner than iPhone 4 – and now has front and rear cameras:

More after the break

 

Optional magnetic cover for iPad2 comes in many colours:

 

And it even folds back to make a support for the screen:

 

 

Cameras allow Facetime video calls with friends and family via wi-fi:

 

 

It really is this thin!

 

Judge for yourselves, we've just got our hands on iPad2 and you can see it here alongside the original:

And here, one on top of the other:

 

Finally, here's the back with that camera lens top left: