The Apple online store is down ahead of Apple's education event in Chicago today.
In the UAE, the starting price is Dhs1,349, while schools can purchase it for Dhs1,294.65. Aside from all the improvements under the hood, the biggest new feature is full support for Apple Pencil. The new tablet from the Cupertino giant has support for Touch ID (placed to the front), HD FaceTime camera, 8MP rear camera, LTE option (a bonus for students) and the Apple A10 Fusion chipset which powered the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus smartphones in the past. But the higher education market - in which students and parents generally buy the laptops, not the institution - acts much more like the consumer market in which Apple does extremely well, and not as much like the government or enterprise markets more reflective of K-12 schools, where centralized education technology purchasing is done with taxpayer dollars.
"This is an important day for Apple, and we hope it's an important day for students and teachers around the world too", said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
But in elementary and high schools, Apple has gone from teacher's pet to the back of the class. Apple claims the new machine can last ten hours between appointments with a charger.
Up to now, "The most popular iPad has been the [older] 9.7-inch iPad", which was $299 to education establishments taking advantage of Apple's education discount.
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Apple today introduced an updated iPad, and it's coming to T-Mobile.
A year ago, Apple's entry-level iPad got a speed boost and a few other small tweaks.
So it's not the cheap iPad that had been hoped for (it's only $30 less than the version Apple introduced past year - assuming you qualify for the education discount).
As noted by ZDNet's Larry Dignan, it's clear that Apple is working to compete against the dominance of Google's Chromebooks in education. As it stands, Apple Watch incorporates a bespoke heart rate monitor, accelerometer, barometer and gyroscope to track a range of biometric data and user movement.
Apple didn't stop at hardware either.
Expect Apple to tout its programming chops: Apple has already been promoting its Swift programming language to kids, and past year it expanded its "Everyone Can Code" program to Chicago schools. That's a huge market that Apple does not want to miss out on. "We have more access to innovative products and ideas". Another program for teachers is Everyone Can Create, which will offer free content for the creative arts.