At Apple’s “Field Trip” event in Chicago, the company introduced an upgraded iPad, a much-improved iWork suite and a range of new educational apps and improvements designed to put the company back at the center of the education market.
Introducing the new iPad
While iOS 11.3 remains unavailable at time of writing, the three standout features of the new $329 ($299 to education customers) iPad are support for Apple Pencil, much faster A10 Fusion chip — the same chip as used inside those powerful iPad Pros — and the introduction of sensors designed to make the Apple tablet ARKit-compatible, opening the gates to a mass market for educational apps, such as Starry Night. These new iPads are available for pre-order today and will arrive in Apple retail stores later this week, the company said.
The sixth generation iPad specifications are as follows:
- 7-inch Retina Display
- A10 Fusion chip – the same as the second-generation iPad Pro
- 8MP camera w 1080 HD
- Facetime HD camera
- Up to 300Mbps LTE
- Compass and GPS
- Touch ID
- Up to 10 hours battery life
- Apple SIM (in higher-end $459 model)
“iPad is our vision for the future of computing, and hundreds of millions of people around the world use it every day at work, in school and for play. This new 9.7-inch iPad takes everything people love about our most popular iPad and makes it even better for inspiring creativity and learning,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of product marketing in a press release.[ Further reading: 10+ iOS 11 iPad Pro productivity tips ]
The company also threw in lots of collaboration features across many of its products, including iWork (see below). In a fillip to cash-strapped schools, Apple will charge educational customers $30 less for the iPad and $10 less for Apple Pencil ($89, rather than $99). However, some analysts are already wondering if the difference in price is significant enough for Apple to truly claw back space in the educational market from Microsoft Surface and Chromebooks.
Apple’s entire history shows that price isn’t everything, of course, and the company has really spiced up this pudding with a range of educational software tools for teachers and students and does appear to have won some hearts and minds in the educational space with this, as these Tweets from Crane School district show.
A better iWork
Apple has upgraded iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) to be more compatible with Apple Pencil. Key among the new enhancements, users will be able to draw, sketch, or write with Apple Pencil directly in the Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps. That means you can add all kinds of annotations to these documents, and the way those Smart Annotations work mean they are reflexive of the content of the item being annotated. “With Smart Annotation, comments and proof marks will dynamically anchor to text. And as a user integrates feedback and the document changes, remaining annotations will stay with the text they were attached to,” Apple explains.
Book creation is also now possible using Pages for iOS and macOS, making it easy for anyone to create fun, interactive digital books, from short stories to travel books. The software includes book creation templates and — perhaps the most fun feature — lets groups of users collaborate together on book creation projects, which could be a massive benefit for some workflow challenges.
Box integration, a new Presenter Mode, and a range of other smaller improvements complete the iWork offering for education. GarageBand and Clips also saw some useful collaborative updates at the event.
The new iWork software updates are available now.
Apple also introduced a huge number of educational software applications for educators, and this is where the company may make the most significant difference with these releases, at least in the education sector.
The new Schoolwork app (available in June) lets teachers send handouts, reminders, and homework to pupils. Built with privacy at its core, the app also lets teachers monitor pupil attainment within the app. Teachers can also assign tasks within apps to pupils from inside Schoolwork, which means a pupil clicking on a task request will automatically find themselves inside the relevant app. Apps need to be compatible for this, but Apple is shipping a ClassKit API so developers can deploy this in their apps. Apple also introduced Apple Teacher, an app that will give educators case studies, lesson plans, training, and inspiration, the company said.
Apple continues to drive home its Everyone Can Code curriculum, but it remains committed to its creative markets, as evidenced by its decision to launch a new and free Everyone Can Create curriculum. This has been developed to make it easy for teachers to integrate drawing, music, filmmaking, or photography into their existing lesson plans for any subject. Apple Stores will begin teaching Everyone Can Create as part of their regular Today at Apple sessions for educators later this year.
A final couple of education-related announcements: Apple’s Classroom, a teaching assistant solution that helps teachers manage student iPads and guide students through lessons, keep them on track, and share work, is now coming to the Mac. And students and teachers with a managed Apple ID now get 200GB of iCloud storage as standard. (Apple should make that last offer universal.)
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