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Apple launches upgraded 9.7 inch iPad aimed at education

Apple has unveiled a new iPad targeted squarely at education in a bid to take on the popularity of the Google Chromebook in schools. 

The new iPad comes with a 9.7-inch Retina display that supports the Apple Pencil. The display’s pixels are powered by Apple’s A10 Fusion chipset, which isn’t quite the A11 Bionic found in the iPhone X and iPhone 8, but it’s no slouch either.

It also comes with Touch ID, LTE connectivity, a claimed 10-hour battery life, stereo speakers, and even augmented reality (AR) support that to enable school pupils to experience things like museum attractions while remaining in the classroom. The AR capabilities will, Apple claims, supposedly let students dissect creatures like frogs and sprats digitally.

So far this looks like a fairly unexceptional iPad with a few educational extras, but accessories like Logitech’s crayon stylus and a keyboard bring the iPad back to school; albeit at the cost of $49 and $99 respectively.

One of the more interesting and unexpected parts of the new iPad is the ability to share it between school pupils with the Shared iPad support added for education, enabling multiple student profiles to be used on one iPad. All these profiles can be assigned and corralled using the Apple School Manager, which allows Apple ID to be created in bulk and divvied out to school pupils in minutes.

And there’s a suite of new and updated software to appeal to schools and their students, such as an app called Schoolwork that enables teachers to more easily assign activities to classrooms in the app, as well as track the progress of individual students. Schools will also get 200GB of free iCloud storage, which basically ruins excuses like ‘my dog ate my USB stick’ from work-shy students.

The new ClassKit toolkit allows developers to integrate their education apps with Schoolwork, essentially paving the way for an education focussed mini-ecosystem within the iOS ecosystem.

All in all, this is basically a normal iPad with a layer of education software, tools and accessories. And that’s reflected in the price, which starts at $329, some £320, but with a discount of $30 for schools. Though this new iPad is apparently the most affordable iPad ever.

This new iPad will replace the current iPad, which came with a less gutsy A9 chip. But other than updated software in the form of refreshed Pages, Numbers and Keynote app, there’s not a huge amount to make you rush out and buy this iPad if you have one from 2017. 

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