Apple has unveiled a new 9.7-inch iPad that it hopes school districts will use instead of devices from Google and Microsoft.
WLS-TV reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the renewed push into the education market during an event at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago.
Teachers and students who got special invitations from the tech company lined up outside the school for the announcement.
Having the announcement in Chicago is considered unusual because most events of this type take place are made in California at Apple headquarters. The company is working with Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago on a computer coding curriculum.
Apple says the new iPad will retail for $299 for teachers and students and $329 for the general public. Teachers and students also will get 200 gigabytes of free iCloud storage.
The new iPad also will be compatible the Apple Pencil, a digital stylus that until now worked only with more expensive iPad Pro tablets. the Apple Pencil is sold separately from the iPad.
The company also announced a new app called Schoolwork, geared for educational purposes that enables teachers to mark up homework and students to create digital books and read textbooks.
Teachers at the event say the new iPad will be a game-changer.
"For my classrooms, it just means we'll have access to more creative tools than we've had before. We have more access to innovative products and ideas," says Jennifer Smith, a teacher at South Middle School in Arlington Heights.
The Washington Post reports that in elementary and high schools, Apple's presence lags behind its competitors. By the end of 2017, according to analysis firm FutureSource, new machines running Google software accounted for about 60 percent of what U.S. classrooms received; Microsoft accounted for roughly 22 percent; Apple’s iOS held 12.3 percent; and its MacOS had 4.7 percent.
Apple’s updated iPads are more functional in classrooms with the new Schoolwork software to help teachers setup and manage accounts as well as keep track of student progress. But Chromebooks with keyboards start as low as $200; the new, more expensive Pad doesn’t come with a stylus or keyboard.