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Apple makes big education play with new iPad

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Apple’s first launch event of the year brings an affordable iPad to the education market, writes BRYAN TURNER.

Apple chose Lane Tech High School in Chicago for its first launch event of the year last week, underlining the fact that it is paying special attention to the needs of schools.

It was Apple’s first education-centric event in six years and second education event ever, with technologies focused on enriching the education experience of teachers and students.

The highlight of the event, the unveiling of the new iPad, marks the sixth generation of the iPad range. The new iPad features the A10 fusion chip, which boasts 40% faster graphics performance over the previous model. This iPad is the first Apple device not to require an Apple ID sign-in on setup, which is useful for schools that will be sharing iPads. Aesthetically, this iPad is no different to the previous generation of iPad, but includes a key selling point: the support of the Apple Pencil, which was previously reserved for the high-end iPad Pro devices. This will enable students to write on the screen while resting their palm, or even their other hand, on the screen while writing or drawing.

The Apple Pencil’s starting price is US$100 (R2000 from iStore South Africa), which may drive consumers away from the benefits of the new iPad. Logitech has partnered with Apple to release a stylus that is half the price (US$50) and only lacks the pressure sensitivity feature of the iPad. The price differentiation is useful for those who don’t require the iPad for making art. The Logitech Crayon is the first Apple-approved third-party stylus.

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Apple was once the leader in education technology in the USA, but Google has since claimed the schools with its budget-friendly line of Chromebooks for education. Chromebooks can be leased by students for a much lower price than Apple iPads, which has resulted in Chromebooks being used by 60% of US classrooms as opposed to Apple’s current 17% education market share.

This education event comes a day after Acer and Google’s announcement of the first ever Chrome OS tablet.

Apple also released a wide range of new education-focused features and applications to help teachers demonstrate learning concepts. The company is pushing for the adoption of augmented reality in the education space.

 

“Instead of dissecting frogs [in real life], students can dissect frogs with the Apple Pencil [on the iPad app],” says Apple executive Greg Joswiak. The iWork productivity suite, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint alternatives, is free to anyone with an Apple ID, which is free to create.

Pages, the Word alternative, now offers a space for teachers to markup papers handed in with the Apple Pencil. Numbers, the Excel alternative, allows students to write in cells with the Apple Pencil.

Apple’s ClassKit API can now be implemented by app developers to allow teachers to track progress and scores of exercises and assessments performed in those apps in the Schoolwork app. Schoolwork is a central dashboard, which allows teachers to place PDF handouts and bookmarks to ebooks and, more importantly, to assign “apps for homework”. The app allows tracking of task completion, the accuracy of answers produced in the task and the time it took the student to do the task. Apple also announced Classroom, a classroom management system, which allows teachers to track what their students are doing on their iPads in class, in real time. It also allows for universal control over students’ iPads, with features like universal locking of apps, silencing of audio and opening of apps, universally.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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