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The 10 most important announcements from Apple’s first big event of 2018

Published Mar 27th, 2018 12:02PM EDT
Apple Event Recap

Apple’s first big press conference of 2018 is now behind us and, well, it was pretty much exactly what we all thought it was going to be. Apple typically only hosts press conferences for big events with widespread consumer appeal. Even the keynote that kicks off Apple’s annual WWDC developer event each year is geared toward consumers as much as developers. Tuesday’s “Let’s take a field trip” event in Chicago was aimed squarely at the education market though. It’s obviously a hugely important space, and that goes without saying. It’s not terribly exciting, however, and that’s probably why Apple didn’t even both to live stream Tuesday morning’s press conference.

No, the event wasn’t terribly exciting. But there were still some important announcements made during Apple’s press conference in Chicago on Tuesday. In this post, we’ll recap all of the key things Apple announced during its first event of the year.

New 9.7-inch iPad

The star of the show on Tuesday was Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad, which is Apple’s most affordable iPad ever at $299 for schools, or $329 for consumers.

Despite the low price point, the new iPad includes Apple Pencil support as well as tilt and pressure sensing just like the much pricier iPad Pro. It also has Touch ID just like the previous entry-level 9.7-inch iPad model. In fact, it looks exactly the same on the outside.

Key specs include up to 10 hours of battery life per charge to carry you through a school day with no problem, a 9.7-inch display, an 8-megapixel rear camera, an HD FaceTime camera, optional LTE, and Apple’s A10 Fusion chipset. This means the new iPad will also support augmented reality apps, which have the potential to play a huge roll in the classroom experience of the future (and today).

The new 9.7-inch iPad is available to order today, and it’ll start shipping later this week.

Apple Pencil student discount

At $99, the Apple Pencil is quite expensive. Students will be able to get one for $89 now — which is still quite expensive.

Luckily, there will also soon be a…

Logitech Crayon

This is a pressure-sensitive iPad stylus similar to the Apple Pencil, but it’ll only cost $49. That’s still a lot for a stylus, but it’s certainly better than $89-$99. Logitech is also making a keyboard case for the new 9.7-inch iPad, but no details at all were shared during the event.

No word yet on an exact release date for either product.

New versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

Apple’s productivity apps are all being updated with… you guessed it… Apple Pencil support. The new apps won’t just support the Apple Pencil, they’ll have nifty Pencil-only features like the new “smart annotation” feature in Pages.

Digital Books

Teachers can now create digital books for their classes right on an iPad. iBooks Author supports this functionality on a Mac, but Macs are expensive and out of reach for many public school budgets.

The new Digital Books feature will be built right into Apple’s updated Pages app.

Upgrade to free iCloud storage for students

Students used to get 5GB of iCloud storage for free. That’s now being bumped up to 200GB.

Classroom app updates

Classroom is a nifty app that lets teachers remotely control their students’ iPads, and it’ll be coming to the macOS platform as a
beta this June.

Schoolwork app

This is a new addition to Apple’s education portfolio that will let teachers assign handouts and track progress right from within the app. It’s entirely cloud-based, and Apple says using the app is “literally as easy as sending an email.”

The Schoolwork app will be released in June.

Apple Teacher

This is a new professional learning program for teachers, which is already live now at this link. From Apple’s website:

“Apple Teacher is a free professional learning program designed to support and celebrate educators using Apple products for teaching and learning. As an educator you can build skills on iPad and Mac that directly apply to activities with your students, earn recognition for the new things you learn, and be rewarded for the great work you do every day.”

Everyone Can Code

Apple is providing several new online curricula full of tools to help learn (and teach) coding. It’s all based on Apple’s Swift programming language, of course, and Apple will be adding a new ARKit module as well as several new guides specifically designed to help teachers plan a coding curriculum.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.