Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad is designed for students and anyone on the go who wants to get stuff done without carrying a bulkier laptop. you get a speedy A10 Fusion chip, support for the Apple Pencil and access to immersive augmented-reality apps.
Other highlights include more than 10 hours of battery life and a new iWork suite that makes the iPad a good productivity tool. But in an age of ultra-affordable Chromebooks and Windows machines, Apple’s refreshed tablet is more of a satisfying niche device than it is a PC for the masses.
The iPad still packs a sharp, 9.7-inch display into a compact and lightweight aluminum package. But the overall aesthetic is a bit tired in an age of shrinking bezels on phones; the thick black border around the screen feels somewhat antiquated even for the iPad’s relatively low price.
Nevertheless, the design feels solid, and I didn’t feel that much strain when holding the device up to browse the web, check my email and play with AR apps for long stretches. The iPad weighs a very manageable 1.03 pounds for the Wi-Fi version (the LTE model weighs 1.05 pounds), and it measures just 0.29 inches thick.
The trusty old Home button sits beneath the screen to handle Touch ID for logging in, and there’s a Lightning connector on the bottom for charging and a headphone jack up top.
Because the iPad is essentially naked, you’ll want to protect it with a case. Apple’s Smart Cover, but you’ll want something more durable if you give this tablet to a child.
Apple’s entry-level iPad now supports Apple Pencil, which means you can use the accessory to draw, take notes and interact with a growing number of Pencil-enabled apps. A tool so precise that Disney animators use it, the Apple Pencil felt completely natural to use in my testing.
In the Linea Sketch app, I almost felt like an artist as I tried to build on an existing project of a tiger drawing. The Apple Pencil exhibited zero latency as I added some lines, and the force and tilt sensitivity made me feel like I was using an actual pencil.
Schoolwork App and Everyone Can Create Curriculum
Although everyday consumers won’t be exposed to them, Apple’s new Schoolwork app and Everyone Can Create curriculum have important implications for how kids can learn.
With Everyone Can Create, the goal is to integrate multimedia activities like music-making, filmmaking and drawing into education. I experienced this first hand when I put together a short video poem around the Fibonacci mathematical sequence, something I couldn’t have done with a Chromebook.
Schoolwork is designed for teachers and lets them hand out assignments, including deep links to specific parts of apps, and track their students’ progress