What to expect at Apple’s education event

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Given it’s at a public school and considering its recent work with the Chicago school system, Apple’s scheduled media event in Chicago at 10 am US Central Time on Tuesday, March 27, is likely to be about education. The Californian electronics company usually hosts media at its own campus, or somewhere in the Bay Area.

Will Apple show off educational software? New, affordable laptops for students? A year ago, it didn’t hold a spring event, opting to quietly roll out some minor product updates, and a new app that few seem to be using a year later. Here’s a run-down of everything Apple may announce Tuesday:

New computers

While Apple still holds a dominant spot in the college laptop market, it has more or less ceded the entire grade school computer market to more affordable and simpler Chromebooks. According to The New York Times, more than 30 million students in the US use Google services at school (like Gmail and Google Docs), and half of all laptops shipped to schools are Chromebooks.

Apple sells students the $1,000 MacBook Air. Originally released a decade ago, it’s a lightweight laptop that upended the laptop market. But it’s been neglected by Apple in recent years, rarely receiving hardware refreshes. Instead, Apple has pushed iPads as laptop replacements.

But recent rumblings suggest the lower-end of Apple’s laptop business might be getting a refresh, and would sit either alongside the existing 13-inch MacBook, or replace it. Expect to see at least one computer-shaped object on Tuesday.

New software

This is an education event, so software updates will probably be announced. As The Verge points out, Apple’s last education-themed event marked the release of iBooks 2, which was meant to set the iPad up as a challenger to the textbook market. Bloomberg reported earlier this year that another revamp is expected, with the app’s name changed to simply “Books.” It may launch in Chicago.

Apple is apparently also readying something called “ClassKit” for iOS for educational apps, according to 9to5Mac. Apple launches “Kits” for developers to use as a framework around certain new ideas, like “ARKit” for augmented-reality capabilities in iOS and “HealthKit” for health and fitness apps. It’s likely we’ll hear about all sorts of new collaborative iPad apps that teachers and students can use to learn, and probably code.

New iPads

Apple introduced the 9.7-inch iPad Pro this time in March 2016 and replaced it with a 10.5-inch version in June 2017, so it seems highly likely it will update the tablet line. Although they’re still quite expensive, the smaller iPad Pro starts at $808 when you throw in a keyboard case, which is about $200 less than a MacBook Air. Expect there to be some new iPads for all the new education software, and probably some new accessories. Perhaps we’ll get a new Pencil stylus that doesn’t have to stick out the end of the iPad to charge.

New iPhone SE

Apple last revamped its tiny $400 iPhone a year ago, and considering it’s based on a design that’s now six years old, it wouldn’t be surprising if there was a design refresh. Rumors have suggested that a new SE, with wireless charging, will be released at some point this year.

Wireless accessories

At Apple’s iPhone X event in September, it announced that it would release a version of the case for its AirPods headphones that can be charged conductively, like the iPhone X and iPhone 8 phones, as well as a new type of charging mat, called AirPower, that can charge three devices at once. That would mean if you’re like me and have AirPods, an Apple Watch, and a new iPhone, you will need only one charger to charge them all.

Reports have said that the device should finally be on sale by the end of March, which perfectly fits the timing of this event for a hands-on demos.

One more thing?

The better Apple events have always managed to hide a surprise or two away from all the information that leaks out beforehand. Maybe we’ll see some AR glasses, or a new type of wearable, or a hat for your HomePod, who knows? Either way, we’ll be there at 10am Tuesday to document it all as it unfolds. Stay tuned.