Apple will hold its first event of 2018 at a high school in Chicago next Tuesday, March 27. It's an usual location for such a high-profile event, but the event's theme, Let's take a field trip, explains Apple's decision to hold it at such a public venue. So, what can we expect?
The invitation sent out to press features a telling tagline: Join us to hear creative new ideas for teachers and students. Okay, so much of Apple's presentation will focus on education, a market where the Cupertino company's presence has been threatened by cheap Windows and Chromebook machines.
While it's unclear if Apple will introduce any new software initiatives, rumors suggest we can expect new hardware, including a cheaper iPad and MacBook Air. Apple might also finally announce a release date for its AirPower mat, and when iPhone users can download the final version iOS 11.3.
Additionally, the design of the invitation is notable because it looks like it was drawn using an iPad and Apple Pencil. Could Apple's cheap new iPad feature advanced Pencil support? Unlikely, but it's a real possibility.
Here's why you should be excited for next week's event.
Apple's cheapest laptop ever: Apple laptops have never been cheap, something next week's event will reportedly address. The company is allegedly gearing up to introduce an entry-level MacBook that starts at $799, a price that's unheard of in Apple's Mac ecosystem. This is the same company that offers an all-in-one desktop for $4,999. No word on specs, designs, or availability, but the laptop could provide students with a great gateway into Apple's macOS ecosystem. [Read more]
An iPad anyone can afford: Last year, Apple introduced a refreshed 9.7-inch iPad that retailed for $329. New reports now suggest Apple will announce an even cheaper model at next week's event. According to multiple reports, the new tablet could start as low as $259, making it the company's most affordable iOS device to date. Apple already rules the tablet market, and that lead could get even larger once a cheaper model is announced. [Read more]
The iPhone SE returns: The iPhone SE hasn't received a meaningful update since it launched in 2016, but that may change next week. The device will reportedly feature an iPhone X-like design with mid-range specs and a mid-range price. Of course, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are already good options for those looking for a more affordable smartphone from Apple, but it's the size and design of the iPhone SE that people find appealing. Recent rumors seem conflicted about whether an iPhone SE sequel exists, but we should get a definitive answer soon enough. [Read more]
Apple has expressed interest in education before, but it has never fully committed to the space. A struggling student can't exactly afford to buy a 15-inch MacBook Pro when its starting price is $2,399. A MacBook at $799 is much more doable. Offering a more affordable laptop will help Apple stave off competition from Microsoft and Google, while offering a more rounded portfolio.
Add a cheaper iPhone and iPad to the mix, and you have a strong lineup that could potentially attract a wider range of consumers. Of course, offering more affordable devices doesn't really provide an answer to what creative new ideas Apple has for teachers and students, so we can likely expect some surprises next week.
We'll be on hand at the event to bring you all the important announcements.