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New iPad tries to school the competition

Now being pushed as an educational tool, new iPad works with the Pencil and supports Augmented Reality

Image Credit: AP
A demonstration of the Froggipedia App using the Apple Pencil on the new 9.7-inch iPad is performed at an Apple educational event at Lane Technical College Prep High School, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Chicago.
Gulf News

It’s been called the iPad for Kids, the iPad Air 3, and I’ve even heard it called the “budget iPad.” It’s not really any of those things.

If you want to get technical, you can call it the sixth generation iPad. Apple’s nomenclature has been all over the board since the first iPad launched in 2010, but the company now seem to have settled on just the iPad and the iPad Pro.

Last week in Chicago, Apple introduced us to its new baseline iPad. Over the years the iPad has gotten thinner, lighter and a lot more powerful. It still has the standard 9.7 inch screen with Retina Display (2048x1536 resolution), however this version of the iPad doesn’t include lamination or anti-glare coating. Be prepared to wipe off a lot of fingerprints.

The new version comes with the A10 Fusion chip running at 2.34 GHz, which is the same chip available in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Apple says the A10 is 40 per cent faster than the A9 at processing (CPU), and 50 per cent faster when it comes to processing graphics. It’s not Apple’s fastest chip, but the only place to get the A11 chip so far is in the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or the iPhone X. Even the iPad Pro only has the A10X chip, a second generation version of the A10.

The A10 is powerful enough for most of what you’re going to do on an iPad, and it’s fast enough for Apple’s Augmented Reality (AR) kit, which was one of Apple’s primary selling points during its Chicago event. Apple is hoping to convince educators this iPad has the specs to allow teachers to use AR in the classroom.

It does, but the AR can be a bit choppy at times, especially when moving around and zooming, which is pretty much the whole point of AR. The iPad Pro, on the other hand, gave a much smoother display. Neither the standard iPad nor the Pro does particular well in low-light situations with AR. Even in a well-lit office space in the evening, the AR refused to work on the same table it worked on just a few hours before. The only “flat surface” it would accept was the floor.

This is when you’d really love to see an A11 chip at work, but that would likely drive the iPad out of the target price range for students. This iPad in the UAE starts at Dh1,349, but schools can get a Dh55 discount. The iPhone 8 starts at Dh2,991.

Another issue we’re assuming was a limiting factor to a higher processing speed was battery life. Apple is saying the new iPad will go 10 hours, which seems the bare minimum for students, who normally attend classes for 7 hours day. They’ll probably need to recharge to finish their homework.

This new iPad also supports the Apple Pencil, which so far has been a toy largely of artists and graphic designers, since it only worked with the iPad Pro. The Pencil isn’t cheap either, and I’m sure parents will be less than thrilled at the idea of giving their kids a Dh399 pencil. But it does allow the kids – or anyone – to doodle, draw or even makes annotated notes in some apps.

The iPad comes in two sizes: 32GB is standard, but for anyone who produces lots of media, there is also a 128GB version.

Pros

Weight: The iPad weights 469 grams. That’s means the iPad 2 still holds the record for the lightest iPad, but the new iPad is the same weight as the original iPad Air.

A10: A good processor for most of what you do on an iPad, but seems to strain when running Augmented Reality apps.

Pencil: If the Pencil didn’t work with a product aimed at the education markets, it would deficiently be a con.

Cons

Fingerprints: It’s a finger print magnet, and you’re going to be giving it to kids!?

Price: At Dh1,349, this is still much more expensive than a Google Chromebook. Apple always likes to make the argument that you get what you pay for, but let’s see if that’s a rationale that parent accept.

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