Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Today's Apple Announcements—a first look

Apple today announced a new iPad and a variety of updates and additions to its apps for the iPad. I won't try to cover every detail of the announcements—other venues have done a great job of that including Macworld.Com. Instead, I'd like to mention a few aspects of the announcements that are particularly interesting in the context of a 1-to-1 iPad school.

Price—By keeping the new iPad at the same basic costs as last year's model, Apple gives schools the capability to plan for their 1-to-1 programs. As an example, we typically announce the fees supporting our programs in January—long before the "August" device is announced. I am grateful for small favors—but not having to rework our strategy is a huge plus in March.

Price again—Apple's announcement of reduced pricing on the iPad 2 makes delving into this type of technology more accessible to more people. I believe in purchasing our students the latest device available when possible. Technology becomes out-of-date too fast to buy yesteryear's model if I can help it. Still, by making the iPad 2 available in the education market at $100 cheaper, Apple will probably make 1-to-1 computing more accessible. As Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs) pointed out today, the iPad 2 becomes very affordable if you calculate its cost monthly—less than $20/month over two years. While I can see some advantages to Android and other tablet devices, Apple's platform is the most compelling for students and schools today (see Fraser's observations on this at

Content Creation—Apple's significant updates to GarageBand, iMovie, and the iWork suite add value to our investment in iPads and continue to chip away at the myth that the iPad is for consumption, not production. That hasn't been a true explanation of the iPad's strengths and weaknesses for some time. It becomes less true every day. I would love to see even more improvement to Pages but some of today's announcements will be really nice to have as part of our digital toolset. The new updates are available already for these apps and our students can start exploring new capabilities "now." That ease of updating is still one of the most beautiful (and occasionally challenging) aspects of deploying iPads.

iPhoto—The trend is that students—even those that have access to other computers—on a large scale really use only their iPads. I'm not saying that this is true for every student—but a lot of students really do focus their digital work on the iPad. The introduction of iPhoto makes this a little more possible. We see students every day with hundreds of photographs in their old "camera roll" on the iPad. With iPhoto, more flexibility to organized and work with photographs is possible without copying the photographs to another device.  More choice in this area is a great addition to Apple's lineup.

Camera—Students love to learn by publishing their learning in engaging formats such as picture and video. iMovie on the iPad has been a phenomenal addition to school projects this year. The enhanced camera on the new iPad will make student production even more beautiful and powerful—and, incidentally, more usable in yearbooks and other publications that are used to tell the "story" of our school.

Apple TV—The Apple TV has become a staple of classroom installations as it empowers students to present their work to their classmates seamlessly from their own digital tools. The new version of the Apple TV sports higher resolution. Again, Apple has done the right thing by bringing today's software improvements to our installed base of Apple TVs by a software update.

I haven't mentioned some of the more discussed features of today's announcements, such as the new retina display of the iPad.  We'll check that out when we can and until then I look forward to learning more!

Christopher K. Sokolov


  1. Thank you Christopher for these words of wisdom. That is a lot of good news for users of iPads in schools. You should review Configurator versus whatever you use now.

    1. Thanks Brad. I need to look more at Configurator -- are you excited about it?

    2. Looks like it's limited to 30 devices? Might have some applicability in an individual class setting (e.g., in younger grades) but unless I'm misreading the specs, limited for its applicability in our one-to-one settings.. right?