Could cheaper iPads take the fight to Google Chromebooks?
Later on Tuesday night, Apple will host the “Let’s Take a Field Trip” education-centric event at the Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. It is after a certain gap that Apple is holding an event focused on education; the last similar event on such a scale was organised in 2012. Even though there are no clues in the pre-event communication from Apple, that doesn’t stop anyone from speculating as to what the Cupertino-based company will announce. Guesses, anyone?
It is very likely that we will see new iPads. Whether these are refreshes of the existing line-up—the iPad (2017), the iPad Pro 9.7 and the iPad Pro 10.5—or completely new iPads, chances are Apple will not miss this opportunity to again push the case for an iPad as a classroom essential. We may even see the revival of the iPad Mini, which will provide a significant advantage, because of its lower price tag. Apple wants to potentially tackle a problem that has been troubling it for years. Back in 2013, the iPads made up for more than half of the computing devices that were purchased by schools in the US, though according to the latest numbers by research firm Futuresource, that number now stands at 19% only—Google’s Chromebooks now account for 58% (up from 50% in 2015) while Microsoft now has a 22% share in the education space.
The previous iPad refresh for what is known as the iPad (2017) happened exactly a year ago, which makes it the most obvious candidate to get some new innards, a fresh coat of paint and perhaps even a new personality. It is quite possible that the entry-level iPad will include smart connectors, which will make it a breeze to connect the Apple Smart Keyboard accessory with it. Is there a case for added support for the Apple Pencil too, on an iPad priced lower than the entry-spec iPad Pro 9.7? Perhaps, but that would simply add to the costs, which is something Apple might not want to risk—unless it has a trump card up its sleeve.
The current Apple Pencil isn’t exactly an affordable accessory for schools and educational institutions. However, this could exactly be the trump card, considering the event invite graphics look a lot like a drawing using the Apple Pencil.
Google’s Chromebooks, because of their affordable price tags, are quite popular in schools in the US. These basic computing devices which rely on the cloud for most tasks, also face competition from Microsoft’s new line-up of affordable Windows 10 S computing devices, prices starting $189 (around Rs12,000).
While potentially new hardware will keep us tuned in, Apple will be focusing on the software side of things as well. Apple also looks set to introduce a ClassKit framework, which has already been spotted in the iOS 11.3 beta versions thus far. This new framework is designed to allow developers to create new educational apps as well as the ability to distribute quizzes and tests to student’s iPads with responses going straight to the teacher’s iPads, for instance.
We could also get a clearer timeline of the iOS 11.3 release date, as well as the next final versions of the macOS and tvOS.
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