Apple unveils new $299 iPad for students—supports AR, Apple Pencil

Apple unveils new $299 iPad for students--supports AR, Apple Pencil

Apple hasn't branded it an ePad.

But Apple's CEO Tim Cook and other executives took that stage in an auditorium at Chicago's Lane Tech College Prep High School on Tuesday and unveiled a new education-targeted $299, 9.7-inch iPad, with support for the Apple Pencil stylus that was once only reserved for its premium iPad Pro tablets. Apple hopes this lowest cost ever new iPad ever will appeal to students and educators.

iPad sales have been fairly soft in recent years, and now Apple is looking to education to execute a turnaround.

The company's last budget iPad cost $329 for the base model and was introduced about a year ago and helped engineer a small turnaround, though schools did pay $299.

Though the price of this new iPad is the same, the latest is more powerful, with, among other features, an A10 Fusion chip that can handle augmented reality. Bonus: 200GB of free iCloud storage.

There's also the aforementioned support for $99 Apple Pencil, which students can use to draw,sketch or take notes with, including in the company's Pages (), Keynote (presentation) and Numbers (spreadsheet) apps. Logitech will also be selling its own stylus that's compatible with the new tablet for just $49.

Apple sold 11.4 million iPads in the third quarter of 2017, compared to 9.9 million iPads during the same period a year earlier. It saw a slight uptick in the December quarter: 13.1 million vs. 13.0 million iPads sold.

Though once dominant in the classroom, Apple has slipped behind Google and Microsoft in recent years, which sell lower cost tablets and laptops that better fit tight school budgets.

Google's cloud-based Chrome operating system at the core of inexpensive Chromebooks captured a 59.6% market share in K-12 mobile computing U.S. shipments during the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Futuresource Consulting, with many of those models in the sub-$300 ballpark.

Notebooks and tablets that run Microsoft Windows ranked second, with a 25.6% share, by

Apple was third, with its iOS mobile operating system (for iPads and the iPhone) and MacOS laptops having 10.6% and 3.5%, market shares, respectively.

Can Apple make headway in schools with its new iPad? The company announced that there are soe 200,000 educational and reference apps for its tablet.

And the new iPad will feature Pencil support for the company's Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheet) and Keynote (presentation) apps, which will be available free on the new tablet.

Apple also emphasized new third party augmented reality apps, including an app that will let students virtually dissect a frog.

'There's no doubt AR is going to change how this generation learns," Apple executive Greg Joswiak said on stage.

Apple separately announced software for teachers, and renewed its push for the previously announced Everyone Can Code initiatives and Swift Playgrounds programming language. Apple also launched a new initiative called Everyone Can Create, with a focus on skills in music, video, photography and drawing.

While educators pay $299 for the new tablet, regular consumers can pick one up when it goes on sale later this week.

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