iOS 9.3 beta is here, and apart from the important new features that captivated the iOS fanbase (like Night Shift), the newest beta brings an important host of improvements to the iPad lineup that were overlooked by many - we are talking about none other than the educational capabilities of Apple's tablets. True, Cupertino once again shows us that it is poised to invest in education even more and make the iPad one of the staples of 21st century's tuition.
First of all, iOS 9.3 will make it easy for different students to share one and the same iPad, as it's glaringly obvious that probably no school will ever be able to provide an iPad for each one of its students due to the costs of such undertaking. Thanks to one of the most important features that will roll with iOS 9.3—Shared iPad—there will be hardly any need for the costly "one iPad per one student".
Shared iPad will allow students to easily migrate between different devices and access their apps, documents, iTunes U content, and progress on any slate in the school after a simple login. Students won't need to wait long for all of their data do be downloaded before a class - Apple says that thanks to intelligent caching, the data will be preloaded on the device, making migration from one iPad to another "hassle-free". That's certainly good news for everyone involved, and undoubtedly, the school system can only benefit from this.
Introducing Managed Apple IDs, specifically created for schools only, Cupertino will allow schools to create and assign Apple IDs for each and every one of its pupils; the latter will be able to log in with their unique school-assigned Apple ID on any iPad in any classroom in the premises. Each school-assigned Apple ID will come with Photo ID, which will be making it easier for kids know which device they've been using last, which will potentially reduce logging-related delays even further. Of course, logging in will require a passcode, but Apple wants to pamper the younger generation by only requiring a four-digit passcode. We have been aware that this feature is coming ever since early 2015, when Apple revealed it is indeed working on such a functionality, and finally, Managed Apple IDs are indeed coming our way.
Another rather important novelty will be the new Classroom app, which will allow teachers to interact with the students in the classroom and guide them through the current lesson. Simply put - it's an organization tool that will most certainly be of immense help to the tutors that use it. We suppose that Apple's Classroom will be similar to what Google has done with its student-managing app, which is also called Classroom.
Judging from one of the products on Apple's website, the Classroom app will effectively allow teachers to manage all classroom iPads by deciding what to be displayed on their displays with Screen View, launch a specific app, or even lock it so that no one gets distracted by a side activity. The latter are available thanks to Remote Control. Additionally, the tutor will seemingly be able to see what app is being used by any student - no more fun and games, no more Candy Crush Saga, no more Clash of Clans!
Each school's IT admins will be able to do so thanks to a new MDM (mobile device management) portal, called Apple School Manager. It will be a web-based portal that will enable admins to create and manage students' Managed Apple IDs in bulk, as well as such for teachers. All of these will be connected with the school's Student Information System, which on its own allows for the school admins to "locate students, staff, and classes". Last, but not least, Apple School Manager will allow admins to buy and push apps in bulk.
So, Apple is really poised to up the educational value of its iPads big time, but this is certainly not everything. Apart from the flurry of upcoming features and functionalities that will undoubtedly be vastly useful to the school system, it looks like a good playground for the public testing of multi-user account support. We suppose that once Apple is satisfied with how it performs in real-world scenarios, a spinoff for the regular iOS users will likely be introduced in a major iOS release, but that's purely speculation on our end.
When can the general public expect Apple to roll out iOS 9.3? We are not sure, though we are certain it will probably take place sometime in the following weeks. You can check out our preview of iOS 9.3 and see what else is new. Additionally, feel free to see why Night Shift amazed us and whether it's a worthy replacement of the killed-off f.lux.