Apple updated its 9.7-inch iPad to support its Pencil stylus and offered a glimpse of upcoming software for educational settings, per a statement. The tablet has a familiar design and starting price of $329, or $299 for schools. Apple appears to be taking aim at Google, whose low-cost Chromebook laptops have a significant share of the classroom market.
Apple touted the device’s speed built on its A10 Fusion chip, a Retina display and advanced cameras that enable augmented reality (AR), which overlays digital images on a real background seen on the screen. A new cloud-based app for teachers called Schoolwork will be available to download in June, per Wired.
The Apple Pencil costs an extra $99, while Logitech showed off a $49 alternative called the Crayon that is aimed at kids. The iPad is available to order today and starts delivering to customers and arriving in stores this week.
Apple’s latest iPad seeks to gain greater acceptance in the education market with the planned Schoolwork software that will help teachers assign homework, send documents to students and monitor their progress. The company used to dominate the education market with its user-friendly Macintosh computers that introduced the graphic-user interface (GUI) to a mass market, but Google started to gobble up market share after introducing the low-cost Chromebook in 2011.
Chromebooks have about 60% of the U.S. education market, followed by Microsoft at about 22%, while Apple’s iOS had 12.3% and its MacOS had 4.7%, according to researcher FutureSource. Chromebooks have several advantages with a sales price as low as $200, a keyboard and a skinny operating system that updates automatically when connected to the internet.
The education market is sizable in the U.S. and gives tech companies a chance to provide a gateway to students by familiarizing them with their platforms. K-12 schools spent $4.9 billion on hardware and $8.4 billion on software in 2015, per data cited by Wired. More than 200,000 education apps are on the App Store, giving students access to learning tools in a wide variety of subjects. For Apple to grow market share in the education market, it will have to demonstrate its new iPad and suite of educational software are a good value.