Posted by: crudbasher | March 8, 2012

Apple iPad Event: The Education Picture

Like many people I followed along with the Apple iPad announcement. It seems like it’s going to be a winner as most people expect. I’d like to share my thoughts on both the technology and what I see as the bigger picture for Apple.

The Device

Retina Display 

The biggest change as I saw it was the display got a huge bump in resolution, and the camera was made into a decent camera. I don’t think the resolution bump will be all the revolutionary. It makes thing look more clear, but it doesn’t enable new types of apps. What it does do is require a large jump in system specs. From what I read, the amount of memory is doubled to 1Gb. This is important because it allows apps to handle more data faster. If it didn’t have more memory, the faster graphics processor would be very crippled.


The much improved camera means that Apple has finally decided that the iPad will also be a content creator rather than just a content consumer. They increased the megapixels from 0.7 to 5.0.  This has huge implications for schools because the iPad is too expensive to use as just an eTextbook reader. There has to be a lot more you can do with it and this new camera will allow you to shoot movies and then edit them on the same device. Most importantly you can do it while mobile. While technically you can do it on an iPhone too, most kids don’t have those, and the screen is too small to make it practical. Having this capability to both shoot and edit movies on one device is new.

The Bigger Picture

Apple TV

Meh. Put the full iOS on it and stop screwing around.

iPad 2

There are a few other things that are worth commenting on. First is the fact they are still going to sell the iPad 2 for $100 less. See what happened here? The iPad 2 has been out for about a year and yet it just dropped in price by 20%. That is the pace of technology. Next year the iPad 3 will do the same thing when it is replaced. If they keep selling the iPad 2, I bet it will drop to $99.  The implications for education are huge. This is why Bring Your Own Device is inevitable. This is Moore’s Law in action. How many schools have made the decision to buy iPad 2s, and have not yet gotten delivery? They have all just paid 20% more for obsolete technology. Of course the iPad 2s are good machines, but the camera on the 3 is worth the upgrade if you want students creating videos.


I can’t overstate how important Siri is in the big picture for education. Apple is investing all this money and technology into something that isn’t really all that great yet. Do you know how I look at Siri right now? It is summed up in this picture.

Evolution of the Cell Phone

Siri is the evolutionary equivalent of the phone on the left. The progression represented here is about 12 years. For Siri to become really amazing will take less than 5 I think. So why do I think it will be so fast?

The truth about Siri

People look at Siri as an app on their phone. Therefore they think it is limited by the capabilities on the phone itself. They see millions of Siris running around with millions of users. Here’s the truth though.

There is only one Siri. She has millions of users.

When you ask Siri something it sends the request to the central Apple server to be processed and answered. What this means is that Apple is able to collect data on every query and make the system work better. This is what Google did with their autosuggest search fields. They look at billions of search terms and figure out that when you type the first two words you are looking for, 89% of past searches then add this third word. It’s a learning system that gets better the more it is used. So is Siri.

Siri is going to get better very quickly. There is also a Google equivalent of Siri called “Assistant” that will apparently be unveiled later this year. This stuff isn’t going away and it’s coming to classrooms near you very soon. Why? They added a microphone button in the latest iPad OS. It’s not Siri quite yet, but I bet that is coming soon. Keep in mind, it’s a software change, not a hardware change. Literally overnight Apple could release Siri for iPad 2s.

As many people have commented regarding teachers:

If you can be replaced by a machine, you deserve to be. 

Prepare for a flood of devices into the classroom. Prepare to compete with Siri. This is the Education Stormfront.

Oh, and have a nice day! 🙂


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