Digital classrooms are becoming more and more prominent around the world — even right here in Mzanzi, and Apple is moving into this new market. The newly announced cheaper 9.7 inch iPad has been reworked specifically with education in mind.
The infamous iPad will look exactly like its predecessors, but will pack a few new features, including Apple Pencil support and updated software that will equip young learners with the right tools for the modern classroom. Battery-life and performance are among the new upgrades, and we are excited to see if this “new” device can actually compete in the education sector, especially in South Africa where parents are particularly price sensitive.
Thanks to the newly added full support for Apple’s digital stylus, this new iPad will allow users to access Apple Pencil-friendly apps built for iPad Pro. Because of the new software, these iPad Pro apps can be refreshed by developers to run seamlessly on the new iPads.
You’d be forgiven for expecting major corner-cutting, but the new 9.7-inch iPad is powered by Apple’s latest processor, the A10 Fusion chip that will allow the device to run augmented reality apps, or use iOS 11’s multitasking features to run multiple apps at once while still keeping things snappy. It also has Touch ID, a battery that runs for up to 10 hours, and the same storage options as the previous generation.
Given the cost of some iPad apps (especially compared to their usually cheaper Android equivalents) we were worried the initial outlay for the device would only be the start of our wallet emptying. But Apple also announced a new iPad app for teachers called Schoolwork. It’s a free, cloud-based app, that lets teachers send PDFs or documents as handouts, organise upcoming assignments, and create activities within apps for their students to complete on their own iPads. Which should mean fewer trips to the App Store.
Apple’s existing Classroom app (which lets teachers check shared iPads in and out, and see what their students are doing on the iPads) has received an update as well, and will allow instructors to track more pupils at once. The app is also now available on Mac desktops and laptops.
Users can also look forward to new child-focused sound packs for Garage Band, updates to its Swift Playgrounds coding app that adds AR Kit actions, and new tools to help kids package and share their creative projects.
Digital classrooms have been slow to take off in South Africa, in part due to the cost of hardware, which has seen their use largely limited to private schools. It’s those schools that are most likely to benefit from the new devices, but perhaps we’ll see some subsidised devices from Apple importer, the Core Group.
We don’t have South African pricing or availability yet. The former, at least, will play a massive role in determining whether the new iPads will be on local public school desks anytime soon.