What Apple's New iPad Means For AR

    On Tuesday at a special event filled with teachers, students, and press in Chicago, Apple announced a slew of new software offerings and a refreshed 9.7" iPad geared towards schools and educational institutions. With a $299 price tag for classrooms (and a $329 price tag for everyone else), not much has really changed, save for Apple's reaffirmed commitment to supporting teachers and students in the wake of market share loss to low-cost Chromebooks. But tucked away in their keynote were several nuggets that give insight into Apple's augmented reality strategy.

Apple is signaling that it sees augmented reality as a commodity; a tool for the next generation of innovators to help build, create, and shape the future.

    First, let's take a look at the hardware. The 2018 iPad utilizes an A10 Fusion chip, Apple's first quad core system on chip. First introduced in 2016 inside the the iPhone 7, Apple touts the A10 Fusion as having 40% greater CPU performance, and 60% greater graphics performance compared to the A9 chip found in last years budget iPad. While that may sound like the typical incremental update jargon, the way the A10 Fusion handles graphics-intensive applications such as augmented reality is significantly more efficient -- meaning better battery life, and higher quality experiences.

 

 Photo Credit: AOL

Photo Credit: AOL

  Though cheaper devices that support ARKit like the iPhone SE exist, the emphasis here is on getting their tools in the hands of creators at an early stage. Apple is signaling that it sees augmented reality as a commodity; a tool for the next generation of innovators to help build, create, and shape the future. As a more explicit endorsement, they’ve also announced an AR module for Swift Playgrounds, their kid-friendly coding platform.
 

  Though cheaper devices that support ARKit like the iPhone SE exist, the emphasis here is on getting their tools in the hands of creators at an early stage. Apple is signaling that it sees augmented reality as a commodity; a tool for the next generation of innovators to help build, create, and shape the future. As a more explicit endorsement, they’ve also announced an AR module for Swift Playgrounds, their kid-friendly coding platform.

  On the software side of things, Apple showed off several classroom-geared AR apps. Froggipedia features an augmented reality mode for learning about a frog’s anatomy, Geogebra gives younger students a close-up look at geometric shapes and the math concepts associated with them, and the World Wildlife Fund’s Free Rivers AR app teaches users all about environmental science with interactive environments.

 Image: Apple

Image: Apple

 Image: WWF

Image: WWF

 

  As we begin to better understand how Apple will approach the augmented reality industry, it seems that their inclusion of AR in their education event is indicative of their future aspirations for AR as a platform for personal computing platform. With the new iPads and the iPhone SE as the lowest cost entry points into their ARKit ecosystem, Apple is betting big on getting AR into the hands of the masses.