Apple Announcements: And what they mean for educators.

Steve Jobs hosted a press conference yesterday for a few new Apple announcements. What were the announcements and what do they mean for education?


iLife 11 was up first with a demo of iPhoto, iMovie and Garageband. iWeb and iDVD are still a part of the suite but not demoed. I am little surprised iDVD is hanging on.

iPhoto

  • A richer and more robust full screen mode. Not only does iPhoto have this feature but it looks as if it will be in more and more products and a part of the 10.7 Lion framework. I believe this will allow for more focus. Concentrating on the application at hand and not all the other windows and email popups that seem to distract while working on a project. For students like me who may be somewhat attention deficit, this is a great idea!
  • Easier printing of books/cards. Just the idea of creating books and cards is exciting. Students will move beyond memorizing to actually creating something useful with their knowledge. Imaging being able to create books on the civil war or the 50 states. Creating a book on character traits or creating cards for thank you’s and other special occasions.
  • Slideshows – faces and places – creative ways to create learning opportunities using the maps theme. Imagine timeline and geography based stories and historical events and the ability to create custom slideshows to demonstrate knowledge and share with parents and the community.
  • Integration with Social Networks – View comments and track what people are saying about photo images and slideshows right within iPhoto. Post your photos on Flickr and see what the world has to say without ever having to leave iPhoto.

iMovie

  • Themes for Digital Storytelling – Movie trailers, sports and news themes and more. The possibilities here are endless! Movie trailers have storyboards to help students learn about action shots, close-ups, medium shots and a slew of other techniques to better tell their story.
  • Face recognition within iMovie – Quickly traverse your saved video to find shots with one, two, or more people.
  • Sharing with the world – easily share with social networks and mobile devices.

Garageband

  • Learning to play the piano and guitar – new lessons that have video of the person playing, the keyboard/fretboard, and the notes to play. Full immersion into the learning environment.
  • New feature – “How did I play?” for immediate feedback. Track over time in a game-like environment that keeps track of your progress.



Macintosh OS X 10.7 – Lion

I found the features announced somewhat exciting. I like to see they are taking the successful features of the mobile technologies and interfacing them with the desktop/laptop environment.

  • Facetime – Working with mobile devices. Can you imagine being on a field trip and having the students pull out their iPod Touches and sharing their findings and asking questions of experts around the globe?
  • Mac App Store – ease of install for teachers! The easier to install software, the better! Period!
  • Launchpad – Organize your apps how you think and work. This is a great feature that I think many classrooms could take advantage of. Put all your reading apps on one screen. All your math apps on another. All the apps for 2nd graders here. For 5th grade there.
  • Mission Control – Find your hidden window/app/widgets. Where oh where did it go? One stop shopping to find all the stuff you have worked on all day!
  • Auto-save –  Need I say more? This along with Timemachine should help any teacher who has ever been frustrated by loosing important documents or time writing lessons.
  • Auto-resume – Open an app to the place and work you were doing right when you last used it. Seems only logical. When I leave my desk at the end of the day, it still has the same things I was working on when I arrive the next morning!


Macbook Air


The announcement of the Macbook Air ushered in a few new features but more than that, it killed some technologies.

  • Death of hard drives – We are moving away from hard drives. Flash or solid state memory is the future of storage. That in conjunction with storage in the cloud will round out a robust storage solution in the future.
  • Death of optical media – The OS comes on a write-protected tiny flash drive. Software will come in the way of downloads. Videos and pictures will be shared in the cloud. CDs and DVDs are dead. (That’s why I was surprised to see iDVD was still a part of the iLife suite.)
  • Death of the mouse button – Multi gesture mice and pads seem to be the theme here. Limited function mice will no longer be needed.
  • Tiny – The compact size still offers a full keyboard and trackpad yet is lightweight and very portable.
  • Camera, keyboard, full OS X, expansion options – it’s not an iPad with a keyboard. It still has all the functionality of a full laptop. Only better! With USB, Bluetooth, Wi-fi and more, the only thing I see missing is built-in cellular connectivity.
  • Battery Life – I LOVE the battery life of the iPad. Can use it for days without having to plug it in. We are now getting to that point with the laptop. You can’t have enough battery life so when they tout this to run 7 hours of active use and 30 days of standby time, that is great to hear. It will be a boon to computing in schools if the device can last all day or several days of active use.
  • Price – I felt the last version of the Macbook Air was a little too pricey. Dropping below $1000 is a much needed price point for schools. I hope this drops even more in the future. Better, faster, more durable, cheaper!

Overall – nicely done Apple.