Review: Apple's new iPad geared toward schools and students

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      Apple's newest iPad is much the same as its other iPads.

      It's equipped with the best touch interface in the industry. It's got a screen and chassis that have been refined over the years to make it light, strong, and capable. It runs a stable operating system and has access to the biggest library of apps, both free and paid.

      Like Apple's premium iPad, the Pro, it also uses the A10 Fusion chip, which allows for augmented reality (AR) experiences, and it supports the Apple Pencil as an interface, allowing for note-taking and highlighting.

      But the 9.7-inch iPad is not a Pro; it's effectively an entry-level tablet, priced as low as $429. Which makes it cheaper than the iPad Mini 3 that is on shelves at the moment.

      Apple is promoting the new one as a device for schools, and in addition to offering education institutions a price break, they are supporting the iPad with more software and services intended for teachers and others who work with kids.

      My seven-year-old and I had a chance to use a new iPad for a few days earlier this month, and we sampled some of the apps that we had lots of fun with that could be great in an education context.


      This is a great introduction to biology, providing some of the experiences that kids learn in high school. You can view the life cycle of a frog, getting information about the transformation that occurs as it develops from a tadpole. The AR functionality of the iPad allows you to see a frog on the floor in front of you, too, and is able to show its various systems (the circulatory and nervous were coolest). We even used the Apple Pencil to dissect a frog, removing organs to see how they all fit inside its body.

      Free Rivers

      Coming from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), this is another AR app that creates a virtual river valley on a flat surface like a table or floor. You can then explore the geography of that space, tracing the path of a river and seeing how it affects the surrounding land. After you're prompted to construct a dam, you can see what happens to the land when the river is diverted.

      Waypoint EDU

      With this app, I printed off some illustrations and set them around the house for my 7-year-old to find. Using the camera on the iPad to scan the illustration, he was able to see and learn about five different wonders of the world (like the pyramid at Chichen Itza)  and five different famous inventions (including the telephone). The app first creates the object and places it "in the room" and then challenges you to answer a quiz question.

      In addition to these third-party apps, the iPad comes equipped with all of Apple's software, including Pages for word processing and page layout, Numbers for spreadsheet work, and Keynote for presentations.

      And Swift Playgrounds provides easy to tackle lessons that teach the basics of computer programming.

      There's also all the creative software like iMovie and Garageband that provide opportunities for kids—whether they are in school or not—to express themselves in whatever way they want.