Apple has held an education focused event in a US school, at which it introduced a new iPad, and made some education focused software announcements. Video of the event is available to watch now. You can watch via the Apple Events app on the Apple TV here, the  event video isn't yet available on Apple's website but we would expect to see it here.

The US event was held at Lane Tech College Prep high school, Chicago. It's obviously unusual to have an announcement in a school rather than a conference centre or Apple Park, but that reflects the subject matter: this was an education-focused announcement.

Chicago is an apt choice because Apple is rolling out an educational program called Everyone Can Code to students in the city.

Apple's March Event Product Announcements

Tim Cook took to the stage to discuss Apple’s focus on education, saying: "At Apple we care deeply about education because we love kids and we love teachers”.

Cook said education has been a big part of who Apple is for 40 years. "We had a unique insight into how technology could inspire kids to unleash their creative genius. And we believed that technology could help teachers deliver a unique and personalised learning experience to all kids. We've never stopped believe this, and we've never stopped working on it.”

He added: “We know our products can help bring out the creative genius in every kid”.

In fact, ”Macs and iPads are used throughout schools by students for everything from music to language arts and even advanced robotics”.

Cook discussed some of the education projects Apple has been involved with. Such as a 10-year study called “Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow” of which he said: “engagement increased exponentially for students and teachers who had access to our products.”

There are also classes for students and teachers at the Apple retail stores, including the Everyone Can Code initiative with Swift Playgrounds that makes it easy to teach coding.

"Today we're going to take those experiences even further and to start it off we're going to talk about iPad”, said Cook as Apple's Apple's vice president of worldwide iPod, iPhone, and iOS product marketing, Greg Joswiak arrived on stage.

New iPad

Apple has introduced a new iPad - it’s got an A10 chip (The iPad Pro has an A10X chip) and a 10 hour battery. A 8MP camera, 1080P HD video, up to 300 mbps LTE, compass, GPS, 10 hour battery life, and it weighs 1 pound.

But it only has 32GB storage! We imagine Apple is justifying this small amount of storage due to the fact that a lot of the content will be stored and accessed in iCloud. It's probably a good thing that the 5GB iCloud storage will be bumped to 200GB for schools and iPad management, then.

It will cost from $329/£319 - although schools will get money off, thanks to Apple's education discount. You can order today. It's is shipping and arriving in stores this week.

There will be discounts available for those buying for education. Schools can purchase iPad starting at $299 (US). We are waiting for confirmation of the UK education discount.

The full retail price of the new iPad is £319/$329 for the 32GB with Wi-Fi model and £449/$459 for the 32GB with Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

The 128GB version of the iPad costs £409/$429, or £539/$559 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

That’s £20 less than the previous generation in the UK, but prices remain the same in the US.

Price for the 2017 model were: £339/$329 (32GB, Wi-Fi only); £429/$429 (128GB, Wi-Fi only); £469/$459 (32GB, Wi-Fi + cellular); £559/$559 (128GB, Wi-Fi + cellula

Discussing why is an iPad so popular in schools, Apple's Joswiak made the following observations:

  • “Today learning happens everywhere, even where there might not be a desk.
  • “It’s versatile.”
  • The iPad comes with “amazing built-in apps for productivity”.
  • There is "nothing like these creativity apps on any other device”.
  • And “There are nearly 200,000 apps made for education.”

Joswiak continued: "The most Popular iPad has been the 9.7-inch iPad. It’s available to schools for $299.”

And, introducing the new iPad he said: “The new 9.7 inch iPad takes everything people love about our most popular iPad and make it even better.”

Apple Pencil

The new iPad works with the Pencil: “Our most affordable iPad has support for our most creative tool, Apple Pencil”.

"It goes so much further. There's an incredible universe of apps for Apple Pencil that will now be available to everyone.”

You can use the pencil in Pages, Keynote, Numbers. Use Smart annotation or illustrate a “lab report.”

”This isn’t just a superficial layer of ink on top like others have done. The notes get pegged to the specific word you’re marking up,” explained Apple’s Greg Jozwiak.

The Apple Pencil is available for purchase separately for $99 or £89. Schools can take advantage of a discounted price, in the US the education price is $89. We are awaiting confirmation of the UK education price. 

Digital Books

Apple is introducing an update to Pages on the iPad that will make it simple to create books. Apple is: "Bringing digital book creation to the iPad".

This way teachers will be able to "make the content relevant to the kids in your class”.

Videos can be added to Pages Books, and with the Apple Pencil teachers and students will be able to personalise your books with illustrations.

“This is a game changing version of iWork. All three apps come loaded onto every iPad for free,” said Joswiak.

Other software updates

Pages - Digital book creation tools will be built right into Pages, more information above.

AR on the iPad - thanks to AR we'll see apps such as one where students can dissect a virtual frog with their Apple Pencil. “There’s no doubt that AR is going to dramatically change the way this generation learns,” said Joswiak. There will also be an AR Kit module for our App Development with Swift program.

Clips - Apple’s app for making and sharing fun videos with text, special effects, and graphics, is getting new shapes and styles. It also has kid-focused filters and posters.

GarageBand - gets a Kid sound pack with animal sounds,

Apple’s Classroom app - this will now be available on both Mac and iPad. It was first rolled out in March 2016. It will arrive in May.

Schoolwork - New app called Schoolwork that will let teachers create and send assignments

What wasn't announced?

Apple's invite, below, hinted that there might be a Pencil related update - and indeed, the company did announce that the new iPad would work with the Pencil (previously only the iPad Pro models did). There were some other things that we were hoping for that didn't materialise.

What to expect at Apple's 27 March education event: Invitation

We didn't have a lot to go on. This wasn't the first education themed event though, back in 2012 Apple held another education-focused event in the Guggenheim Museum.

Based on 2012's announcements we shouldn't expect any new hardware at all: Apple just talked about iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U. But that was a January event, and the company hadn't yet established a pattern of major product releases in March.

We're fairly sure some of the new hardware we mention below will still arrive this spring; it might just be a quiet press release sent out in a few weeks time, or it may be part of the WWDC announcement.

iPhone SE

The main iPhone refresh of the year is almost nailed-on for a September event, but there are rumours that Apple will update its smallest and cheapest phone before then. Many pundits had expected the iPhone SE 2 to be a spring announcement (the first iPhone SE came out in March 2016), but that now seems unlikely.

A new SE would be a big hit (we feel) but it has precisely nothing to do with the education sector so looks more likely to be held back until WWDC. Or ditched entirely.

Product RED or Gold iPhone X

There are rumours circulating that Apple is set to introduce a new colour to the iPhone X range.

This could be a Product RED model, repeating the move Apple made in March 2017 with the iPhone 7, and allowing it to help raise funds for fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa.

But another rumour suggests that a gold version of the iPhone X could be in the pipeline... 

By adding a new colour to the range Apple might be able to fire up sales of the device.

Macs

University students are famous for using Macs, but it feels less of a fit at a high school. It's possible, though, that some of the cheaper machines in Apple's stable could have got a mention at the education event.

MacBook Air

A new MacBook Air has been awaited and expected for ages, and the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a near unrivalled track record for Apple predictions, thinks it's coming this spring. And it's a good shout for school use: cheap (at least for a MacBook), portable and arguably more user-friendly and secure than an equivalent Windows machine.

Macworld's editor feels that updating the MacBook Air would risk undercutting the (more expensive) MacBook, however, and there is something in this. We can see this one going either way, it was the most likely Mac to get an update at the education event but now that's passed, we reckon we could see something at WWDC.

Mac mini

If it's not the MacBook Air, what Mac could Apple roll into the classroom? Maybe the 12in MacBook, although purely from a cost perspective it could prove even more alarming to beleaguered school boards than the iPad Pros.

A better (if still outside) bet for our money is the Mac mini, another neglected product line. It's cheap and perfect for IT departments that have plenty of old monitors that don't need updating.

iBooksAuthor 2

iBooksAuthor is Apple's software for designing Multi-Touch books to read on iPads.

Since the company last introduced the software the last time it held an education focused event, an update to the tool seems likely this time around.

It wasn't a bad prediction, it was just the wrong app - iBooksAuthor has been superseeded by Pages for book design.

You can read about iBooks Author here.