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Can Apple’s iPad/Pencil combo and education software banish Chromebooks?

One pencil to rule them all?

For decades, Apple ruled the classroom with their friendly Macintosh and later, iMac computers. Then Google came along and suddenly, it seemed like every kid out there was tapping away on a low-cost Chromebook. Now,  Apple is redoubling their efforts to again dominate the educational computer space, but this time, they’re using the iPad and a suite of new and upgraded software tools.

DT Editor in Chief Jeremy Kaplan attended the recent Apple Event where a new 9.7-inch iPad tailored for the classroom was unveiled. It looks just like the base iPad model in Apple’s lineup, but there’s more horsepower under the hood with an A10 chip, 32 gigs of memory and  full support for the Apple Pencil, which only worked with the iPad Pro units, until now. Best of all, the price is just $329, or $300 for education market buyers.

Along with the iPad, Apple rolled out a wide range of software goodies for students, teachers and administrators alike, which essentially let you run a school’s curriculum via the iPad. Compelling. But will it be enough to banish the now ubiquitous chromebooks? We’ll see.

Onto the back burner

Facebook’s woes continue following the data collection debacle with Cambridge Analytica, and it looks like an anticipated Facebook product is now a victim as well, at least for now.

That’s right, Facebook had been hoping to enter the smart speaker market this year with an Echo Show-like device that included video chat capabilities. But with the sudden tidal wave of bad publicity over Facebook’s data collection – and the selling of that data – it looks like a May preview of the new tech toys is now on hold.

According to Bloomberg, the as-yet unidentified  devices were set to use some A.I. to help users out, just like an Echo, HomePod and other devices. But with Zuck likely to testify before Congress at about the same time the preview was set to go, Facebook has – probably wisely – temporarily put the brakes on the smarthome speaker project. Bloomberg says that Facebook will still move forward with the rollout, but likely later this year.

Parity comes into focus

Smartphone cameras keep getting better and better, but how do the best ones stack up against, say, an actual dedicated camera?  DT reviewer and photographer Daven Mathies put the highly-regarded camera in the Google Pixel 2 to the test under a variety of challenging conditions and came away impressed. In some cases, he says images out of the smartphone were actually better than some out a DSLR or mirrorless camera. How is that possible?

Solid hardware in the phone of course, but more precisely, better image creation software, including high dynamic range processing, background blur trickery, and more. Check out the story here. 

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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