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Apple launches new iPad at spring event

Tech reporter Mike Yawney gives his recap of Apple’s spring event in Chicago on Sunday.

The battle for Canadian classrooms is about to heat up. Apple has just introduced a new 9.7-inch iPad aimed squarely at students and teachers. It’s all in a bid to reclaim the classroom, and take on rival companies like Google and Microsoft, who have gained popularity amongst educational professionals with budget-friendly devices like Chromebooks.

The latest iPad certainly looks and feels like previous models, but there are some differences which set it apart. And despite the upgrades, Apple has managed to keep the price point relatively low.

Here are five things we learned about Apple’s latest iPad in it’s bid to win over Canadian classrooms

Faster Processing

The new 9.7-inch iPad features Apple’s A10 Fusion chip, the same one found in the iPad Pro. Everything runs fast and fluid. Going by tech specs alone, Apple claims it’s about 40 per cent faster than previous models. Multi-tasking is the key here with students being able to open up multiple apps, without sacrificing speed and productivity.

Apple Pencil

Up until now only high-end iPad Pro models supported Apple Pencil. The stylus-like device let’s students doodle and write directly onto the iPad screen, allowing for note taking and more.

Apps like Froggepedia, lets students use the Pencil as a scalpel and dissect virtual frogs. Since the pencil is pressure-sensitive, students have to be careful how hard they press down, or risk damaging the virtual organs and tissue if they cut too deep.

Students can also use Apple Pencil to touch up images, or convert hand written notes into digital documents for easier studying.

The faster processor on Apple’s new iPad will allow for more Augmented Reality in the classroom, changing the way many students will learn. Students can also use Apple Pencil to touch up images, or convert hand written notes into digital documents for easier studying.

Augmented Reality

The faster processor on Apple’s new iPad will allow for more Augmented Reality in the classroom, changing the way many students will learn.

By using the iPad’s built-in HD camera, AR can overlay virtual objects into real world settings. You can view 3D maps on table tops, or view famous works of art on the wall in front of you. The detail is surprisingly good. You can even make out individual brush strokes if you physically bring the iPad closer to the AR artwork.

Typically AR can only be done on expensive, high-end devices.

Lower Price Point

Although there was a lot of speculation Apple would dramatically reduce the price of it’s new iPad, turns out that wasn’t quite the case.

Apple’s latest iPad is only slightly cheaper than last year’s model. That being said, when you consider the upgraded specs found on the new 9.7-inch, many previously found on only the iPad Pro, the price point does make it enticing for students who need a bit more productivity out of their tablets.

Software for Teachers
Hardware is only one aspect of the latest iPad. Software will play an even bigger role, and enable teachers to do more.

Apple will be introducing ‘Everyone Can Create’ this summer, to take advantage of the latest iPad. It’s a curriculum for instructors to help them use apps in the classroom to make learning fun.

The program allows for teachers to incorporate drawing, filmmaking, and music into their existing lesson plans, to get students more involved in the learning process.

Apple will also introduce ‘Schoolwork’ in June, which allows teachers to create assignments, and even monitor student progress, directly on their iPad.

It interesting to note that while the latest iPad does pack a lot of features, typically only found on Apple’s iPad Pro, there is one thing is missing. The Smart Keyboard connector. Students will have to use a Bluetooth keyboard rather than Apple’s own branded keyboard if they want to type on a physical keyboard.

Will Apple’s latest iPad be enough to take on Google and Microsoft? Time will tell. The new iPad will start at for $399 CDN (student pricing) and $429 CDN for everyone else, and will be available later this week.