The 9.7-inch Retina display has eye-popping colours though the audio, coming out of the speakers at the bottom, is not that loud when you compare with what the iPad Pro has got us used to.
My son was a toddler when I heard about an app called Starfalls ABC from an entrepreneur in the education sector. I added the app on my iPad which he was already playing with. A couple of months on, he was writing alphabets on the walls. Soon, he was reading boards and hoardings when he could not find books. That’s when I thought he was going too fast—like a teenager driving a Ferrari, as someone said—and decided to wean him away. Five years on, with Apple launching an iPad just for students, I think it’s time to reintroduce him to the iPad. Apple’s new iPad 9.7-inch has been made with students in mind. It looks like any other iPad but on closer inspection you see it looks like one of the older iPads.
That is because the bezel is not as thin as it has been with the iPad Pro series… But the big difference in comparison to other iPad models is this one’s ability to work with the Apple Pencil. Yes, other iPads also work on other styluses, but this one has been optimised for the Pencil so that students can annotate notes and jot down references as they are studying. The 9.7-inch Retina display has eye-popping colours though the audio, coming out of the speakers at the bottom, is not that loud when you compare with what the iPad Pro has got us used to. However, powered by the A10 Fusion chip, the performance of this new iPad is certainly not below par.
In fact, running a graphic-heavy, resource hungry game such as Thumper I was clear that this iPad can really push performance. The battery lasts over 10 hours with regular use and that too on LTE. iPads have traditionally had good battery life and the new one is no exception. I did notice some heating when the device was pushed into gaming. The rear camera is actually quite good. This is important because VR apps will need to use this to work as they are supposed to.
Now, let’s get back to my son. As I did when he was a toddler, this time too I found a few good apps which I thought might interest him, and gave the iPad to him. After a few silent minutes —where I thought he was trying to watch stuff on YouTube again—he approached me with a barrage of questions: “Do volcanoes grow bigger? What happens if we cut trees? What are electric cars?” He’d just spent time figuring out Tinybop’s The Earth app, which subtly tell children how our planet works. It’s almost like a game that lets them choose between nature reserves and factories and see how both impact their planet.
There is no text, no explanations. So the child has to come to you for answers. He also used WWF’s Free Rivers app that show the impact of dams on the ecology and habitations. The results were a bit too stark and he got the message quite quickly. But unlike ‘The Earth’, I don’t think this is an app he will be going back to soon. Priced Rs 28,000 and above, I would recommend the iPad for children of all ages as a good learning tool. The Pencil is a good add-on, but expensive for just making doodle on notes. However, I am convinced that going forward a tablet is something every child should have access to.
* Estimated street price: Rs 28,000 onwards