Apple’s new iPad may be at the center of its renewed focus on education, but as is always the case, hardware is only one part of the equation. Google, for instance, has managed to achieve wide adoption within classrooms thanks in part to its suite of apps and services, like Docs and Drive. Apple knows that software is going to be key to getting its devices in the hands of more students, which is why it also announced a pretty massive update to iWork today.
Yes, though we thought that it may never come, it looks like going head-to-head with Google and Microsoft was the motivation Apple needed to revisit iWork. Apple revealed today that it has new versions of Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Clips, and GarageBand all ready to go today, with these updates launching alongside its new iPad.
Perhaps the biggest draw of these new updates is that they make Pages, Numbers, and Keynote compatible with the Apple Pencil, and accessory that also plays nice with the new iPad. Not only does this open the door to features that you’d expect – drawing and note taking, for example – but this functionality is paired with a new feature called Smart Annotation. When editing a Pages file, Smart Annotation will allow teachers to anchor their edits and comments to text within the documents.
Pages on iOS and macOS is also getting a new book creation feature, along with Presenter Mode. Book creation is fairly straightforward, as it will allow students to create interactive digital books, perhaps adding some extra depth to a short story or a project. Presenter Mode, on the other hand, can turn Pages and the iPad into a teleprompter students can use while giving presentations to their class.
So, Apple is definitely beefing up its suite of iWork apps in anticipation of this education push. This mirrors Google’s multi-pronged approach to winning over teachers that includes both software and hardware, so it’ll be interesting to see if Apple succeeds in pulling away any significant market share from the big G.