On March 27, Apple’s holding a special education-focused event at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago.
As always for Apple, the invite is a bit cryptic. “Let’s take a field trip,” and “join us to hear creative new ideas for teachers and students,” the invite reads.
Beyond pushing kids to learn its Swift coding language and to program in general (an initiative CEO Tim Cook champions every chance he gets), what else could Apple have in store? Let’s see if we can make a few educated guesses.
The location of the event, a high school, gives us a clue as to who Apple might be targeting for this event.
Whereas Apple and Cook have previously visited schools with younger demographics, the upcoming event could highlight software and hardware aimed at high school students who are beginning the early stages of deciding what type of career they want to take on.
This time last year, Apple announced the “new iPad.” Technically, there was nothing really new about this iPad except for the fact that it was more affordable and came with an internal refresh to better support new iOS updates. At $329, it was the lowest price Apple ever attached to a 9.7-inch iPad.
While the 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros are undoubtedly the stars of Apple’s tablet lineup now, the entry-level iPad could use an update. We’d love to see it get the beefy A10 or A10 Bionic processor, a laminated screen, and improved cameras, all while maintaining its low price.
New iPad Pros are also long overdue — it’s rumored this year’s models might come with even slimmer bezels and Face ID — but Apple will probably save a refresh announcement for WWDC in June.
New Apple Pencil?
Speaking of iPads, what about the tablet’s little friend, the Apple Pencil? Apple first introduced its stylus with the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro back in 2015 and it’s remained an iPad Pro-only accessory since.
Might Apple finally make the Apple Pencil compatible with all iPad models this year? We wouldn’t rule it out completely. I mean, just look at the outline of the Apple logo and cursive tagline in the invite. It sure looks like it’s hinting at some kind of hand-written and hand-drawn news to come.
Apple Pencil doesn’t need to be limited to the iPad, either. Apple could easily bring Pencil support to the oversized trackpads on the latest MacBook Pros. And the company already has a patent for such an application.
And maybe lower the cost. Apple Pencil is crazy precise for drawing, but it’s $100. That’s too much for a lot of people, especially students.
New MacBook or MacBook Air?
Though Apple has chosen the iPad as its tool of choice for students, there’s no denying that Chromebooks may be more useful.
Yes, Chromebook are cheaper and uglier, but they run Google apps, and they include keyboards and essential ports that’ll prepare students for the modern workplace.
While it’s doubtful Apple will release any kind of super low-cost Chromebook competitor (even one for schools), for high school students, the rumored MacBook Air refresh that could start at $799 or $899 could prove popular. One of the reasons why the MacBook Air, outdated as it is, is still a hit is because it’s so affordable at $999.
With a Retina display, new USB-C ports, and a thinner and lighter body than the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar, the new MacBook Air could become the computer every student wants to own again.
If not a new MacBook Air, then Apple could potentially reduce the price of the 12-inch MacBook. Its single USB-C port is still gonna be a tough sell for students, but if Apple can lower the cost from $1,299 to even $999, it’d move a lot more units.
Don’t count on it. Though Apple released the iPhone SE in March of 2016 and Product (RED) versions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus last year, we wouldn’t bet on a new iPhone announcement so soon, even with rumors flying around about an “SE 2”.
It’s not that iPhones aren’t great tools for students and teachers, but smartphones are usually not allowed in classrooms (even though nobody really follows these rules).
If there’s anything iPhone-related, it could involve ARKit. It may be dead now, but we saw some pretty practical classroom uses for Google’s Tango AR platform using an Asus Zenfone AR last summer.
For example, Google Expeditions (video below), let you attach a phone to a selfie stick to explore virtual models of planets, volcanoes, and even the inside of a tornado.