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Apple has just announced a big update to its entry-level iPad, adding a more powerful processor and Apple Pencil support to its popular 9.7-inch tablet.
The new device was unveiled at Apple’s education event in Chicago, alongside a few smaller-scale announcements. The event highlighted the various benefits of the iPad as an educational tool, and a device that allows creativity to flourish in youngsters. Apple has always been interested in the world of education, and is building a new technology-focused curriculum called “Everyone Can Create.”
The entry-level iPad first released last year has been extremely popular due to its relatively low price tag. This iteration crams even more into the same price point, with upgrades like the A10 Fusion chip from the iPhone 7 and, perhaps most significantly, support for the Apple Pencil.
Until now, the Pencil was only compatible with the much more expensive iPad Pro, so this is a great step towards making the impressive stylus accessory much more accessible. Apple Pencil still costs an additional $99/£89, however, as a standalone purchase. It remains to be seen whether Apple will prepare education bundles that include the Pencil at a lower price.
During the event, Apple also announced it has updated its iWork suite of apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) with additional functionality such as “smart annotation” specifically designed for working with an Apple Pencil. Alongside a new range of augmented reality educational apps, it really looks like Apple is trying its best to make homework more engaging. That can’t be a bad thing, right?
The new 9.7-inch iPad is available immediately from the Apple Store. It starts at $329/£319 for the 32GB Wi-Fi only model, which should be plenty good enough for the vast majority of users.