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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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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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