SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is keeping things simple.
Instead of trotting out Tim Cook for the typically big spring press conference, the company quietly announced a few product updates this week. It released a new iPad, added some watch bands, and introduced a new color for the iPhone 7.
There are no gimmicky new features, no missing ports to fret over. So what do you actually need to know?
The iPad is the cheapest yet
Just call it “iPad.” Like Charo or Oprah.
Apple released a new 9.7-inch iPad that replaces the iPad Air 2 in its lineup. There’s not much to it beyond the usual upgrades. It’s faster and brighter with the same battery life. Inside is the A9 chip that made its debut in iPhones last year.
What’s most notable is that it is now the cheapest iPad available, costing $329 for the 32 GB Wi-Fi version. It’s even cheaper than the smaller iPad Mini. The company hopes the price drop will appeal to first time iPad customers, perhaps enough to woo people who have purchased Android or Kindle tablets in the past.
Apple wants to win back schools
Since the early days of Steve Jobs, Apple has been active in education. Its iPad seemed like a natural fit for the classroom, but there have been some setbacks.
Google has overtaken Apple in classrooms with its affordable and secure Chromebooks. Chromebooks now account for 51% of devices in K-12 classrooms in the US, according to a January report from Futuresource Consulting. Apple is also still smarting from the botched plan to give every student in the Los Angeles Unified School District an iPad. Apple had to pay back $4.2 million as part of a settlement.
The new iPad is priced for education. Through Apple’s educational programs, schools can actually get the new iPad cheaper, starting at $299. Apple has also been busy working on its educational apps like Swift Playgrounds, which teaches kids how to code.
The new iPhones are exactly the same, but red and charitable
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus each come in a new metallic matte red finish. There is nothing else different about them. For those brave enough to skip a case, it’s the most colorful option available. A portion of the proceeds from the red iPhones goes to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which Apple has partnered with for a decade.
Apple won’t say what percentage of each iPhone sale goes to (RED), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It does say that it is the program’s biggest corporate sponsor and has contributed $130 million since 2006.
Nobody listens to videos anymore
People use their phones to shoot video constantly, but they’re usually not creating movies. Apple has designed a new app called Clips that tries to make editing a film dead simple. (Something iMovie’s mobile app never quite mastered.)
Its coolest feature is automatic captioning. It transcribes what you say while recording and overlays the video with text. Sites like Facebook and Twitter autoplay videos, but with the sound off by default. This has created a trend where people will just watch the videos without sound. News organizations and other video makers have responded by adding text to everything, and now iPhone filmmakers can do the same.
The app will be available until April.