The New iPad Air 2: What it Means for Teaching

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There was another Apple Keynote today, and the iPad Air 2 was announced. Although it may not have had the same fanfare as the iPhone event a few weeks ago, there are definitely some exciting changes for the iPad. For those of us thinking of getting one, I wanted to share some thoughts as to how the improvements shared today will effect the future of iPads in education.

With 225 million iPads sold worldwide, there is a very good chance that your students will have one in their household, considering your demographic. This shows that the iPad is current, relevant and applicable. At this point, we must know several people who own one. Yes, you will definitely read reports that iPad sales are slowing every year. But my argument for that is that the lasting power of an iPad is longer than your average electronic device. People definitely do not upgrade every single year.

The keynote today mentioned that iPads are #1 in customer satisfaction with an approval rating of 100%, and this shows that we are not just dealing with a “fad”. Year after year, the iPad is the number one tablet in education. With over 675000 apps made specifically for iPad, and a growing number of educational apps. This number has grown exponentially in the past couple years. I do recall that in 2012, the number was around 120000.

Thinner and More Powerful Than Ever

The iPad Air 2 is now the thinnest tablet in the world. The comparison between the latest iPad Air 2 and the iPad 1 shows tremendous improvement in weight and form factor. The performance of the iPad Air 2 is up to double the original iPad Air and up to 12x faster than the original iPad. Daily tasks just work that much faster, movie making and any other graphic-intensive applications will work much better.

The way it speaks to customer satisfaction is that, even with all these improvements, the battery is still one of its greatest features, at 10 hours. So no matter how intensive you are with it during the day, it will last all day, providing you charge it overnight.

Touch ID

It is important to add a passcode to your devices, in case someone steals it, or if you leave it somewhere. Up until now, passcode can be seen visually by students when I project the iPad. They can see the numbers being inputted. With the new Touch ID, your new iPad is now even more secure. Touch ID has been very popular since the iPhone 5s. Now, third party apps such as 1Password and Evernote have the ability to include it in their apps. If you use your iPad to store sensitive information, such as student info or marks, no one will be able to peer over your shoulder to see your passcode anymore, as logging in will only require a fingerprint.

New AirPlay Improvements

A big hurdle in the past with AirPlay in school/business settings was that if your device was on a different network than the AppleTV, you weren't able to use AirPlay mirroring to wireless project your screen to a large TV or projector. With the newest update to iOS and OSx, you don't even need WiFi to mirror, but just a bluetooth connection. It appears, based on the keynote, that there will be a new AirPlay icon for this purpose. I am looking forward to AirPlay without WiFi.

New Camera

Being a multiple iDevice person myself, I would always switch to my phone to take better quality photos. With this new camera, this is no longer the situation. Taking photos on the new iPad Air are now high resolution, and I would not hesitate even to print photos taken on the iPad. From what it looks like, all the camera features on the iPhone are now available on the iPad. Things such as slo-motion and time lapse photography is now built directly in.

We have teachers at our school who do photography classes and clubs. Students have used the point and shoot digital cameras that we were so familiar with a few years ago. With the new camera improvements and new photography apps such as Pixelmator, teachers with the luxury of having a class set of the new iPads will be able to run a club using just iPads.

iPad mini 3

As for the iPad mini 3, its performance has not made the jump to the A8x chip like its bigger sibling. Touch ID is introduced, along with a gold colour option (which will sell very well, I believe!). So, if you crave more processing power and performance, go for the Air. The “older” iPad mini 2 with Retina display has been reduced in price to $299USD.

Should you upgrade?

If you are still using an iPad 1-3, I would definitely say yes. Even iPad 4 owners would notice a significant difference in performance and form factor. If you already have the less than one year old iPad Air, this probably isn't time to upgrade already, unless you can get some decent cash for it, or if you can find someone to hand it off to, like your children or parents. (The first gen iPad Air has been reduced to $399 USD, a great deal for those on a budget!) If you have held out on purchasing an iPad all these years, then I would give you an emphatic “Yes!” for purchasing it.

What do you think of the new iPad Air 2? Will you be getting one?


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