Apple made a rather low key launch event this week, mainly themed around education. Apple has a good presence in the classrooms in America, with iPads and Macbook Air’s, being a favoured choice for many as they came with many great tools for kids to learn, and teachers to present. Yet in recent years, Chromebooks have been creeping in under the radar, with Google Classroom app being a big advantage to the teachers, and Chromebooks low maintenance and low cost, winning over IT technicians. This has led to Chromebooks being the most popular hardware for schools in the US and possibly worldwide. They also sell more Chromebooks than Macbooks now, and this has a certain company worried.
Apple needed to step up its game to grab the educators attention. Taking what Google had started with its software and bumping it up another notch. Question is does the new hardware also released, compete with the trusty Chromebook?
New iPad 2018
I kind of feel sorry for anyone who has just bought an iPad just recently, because now there is a newer, quicker and cheaper iPad to grab.
Apple needed to launch a product that would compete with a product that is low maintenance, easy to use and cheap. Their solution was to launch the iPad 2018 at a lower price. Dropping in at £319, I’m not sure that’s low enough, I’d have preferred to have seen a £299 price tag, but that’s mostly psychological.
They also added a newer A10 fusion processor, 40% faster than the A9, and was first seen in the iPhone 7. This doesn’t quite make it as fast as the A10x found in the iPad Pro range but still a marked improvement.
Apple Pencil Support
Another great addition is support for Apple Pencil. With education in mind, Apple has introduced many new features to its productivity packages that can use the pencil, so adding support was a key element in their keynote. For markup, drawing and annotations, Apple has big dreams for kids to use the Pencil in classroom activities. This does however add another £99 on top of the £319. A new Acer Chromebook tablet has been announced for the same price as the iPad but comes with a pop out Wacom stylus for free.
No Keyboard support
Obviously Apple doesn’t envision kids or teachers needing to type much in the classroom, so have neglected the addition of charging pins for a physical keyboard attachment. This could be a deal breaker for some, if teachers decide the a keyboard is needed. Giving them a choice may have been a better move, but I guess Apple wanted to keep some sort of desirability to their Pro range.
Beyond the iPad, the real selling point for teachers, is the host of new software Apple is releasing.
Apple Schoolwork, is basically Apple’s take on Google Classroom, giving the teacher the ability to share task to the pupils, which in turn can be completed and returned within the same app. The teacher can collaborate with the students, and check their progress all within a dashboard. Handouts app allows the teacher to hand out learning materials in the the form of images and PDF’s that can be used for the homework. All these have to polished feel you get from Apple, with a new ClassKit looking to integrate existing eduction apps, into the Schoolwork app making homework assignments easier to create and more interactive. This can also be controlled from a macbook, if the teacher wishes to.
They certainly delivered a lot for teachers to try out, and even if the education industry doesn’t embrace it as much as Apple hope, then at least we’ve got a cheaper, faster iPad out of it.