Get schooled: What to expect from Apple’s 27 March Chicago event

It’s time to grade Apple's latest bit of homework...

Apple’s sprung a surprise event on us. “Let’s take a field trip,” says the invite, before asking everyone to join Apple to hear “creative new ideas for teachers and students”.

The event will take place on 27 March in Chicago, and, we assume, show up on Apple’s Events page at some point. In the meantime, here’s what we might see – along with some things we hope Apple reveals…

Apple Pencil 2.0

A revised Apple Pencil has been rumoured for a while, and it sure looks like that invitation was scribbled by someone with high-quality pressure-sensitive kit (or, er, a real ink pen).

Word on the grapevine is the newer Pencil sticks to your iPad by the power of magnetism, and might have a clip. Slightly more out there rumours talk of virtual erasers, changeable nibs, and widening compatibility with software and hardware alike.

Frankly, we’d love to use a Pencil with an iPhone – or a cheaper Apple tablet than the iPad Pro.

Teacher says: A good idea, although a bit vague and lacking in focus. B

Cheaper iPads

Last April’s new iPad was a nice surprise, getting the power-to-price ratio just right. iPads are popular in education, and new models have been filed with the Eurasian Economic Commission. So we know new iPads are coming, but not what they’ll look like, nor whether they’ll even be mentioned at this event.

It’s vanishingly unlikely a major revamp would happen away from Apple’s home turf, and at an education event. But we might get a price-drop (possibly education-only) or a spec-bump for last year’s model.

Teacher says: Lacking in imagination, but solid thinking that recognises a need in the marketplace. B

Revamped notebooks

Not everyone in education – or elsewhere – likes poking at glass screens, hence why Apple’s notebooks keep selling like hot cakes. However, they’re these days rather expensive cakes, and the hope is Apple’s about to do something radical.

The MacBook Air’s looking a bit long in the tooth now, but slots in nicely as the entry-level model in Apple’s line-up. Imagine if the rumours are true and it’ll be getting a $150 price-cut. And Thunderbolt. And a Retina display. And a pony.

Teacher says: Starts well, and again showcases a need in the market, but you got a bit silly towards the end. C

More free iCloud storage

With iOS devices becoming increasingly powerful, and Apple encouraging you to use them for everything from amazing presentations to shooting video, iCloud storage is vital.

For consumers, the 5GB free tier Apple provides is irritating and borderline insulting. But with managed IDs in education, you can’t even buy more space, and so things just break or stop working.

Now would be a good time for Apple to raise the 5GB limit for everyone; but if that would make Apple’s accounts team explode with fury, at least give students an extra 45GB each – although unlimited space would be better.

Teacher says: An excellent idea that would be a boon to everyone working with Apple equipment in the classroom and beyond. A

New and improved apps for the classroom

Finally, seeing that this event is all about teachers and students, there’s bound to be a bunch of stuff specifically aimed that them. Perhaps we’ll see demos of ClassKit in iOS 11.3, a revamped Classroom app, and updates to iTunes U.

Although, to be honest, that all sounds pretty boring, and we’d sooner sit there sneakily playing GRID Autosport on our iPhone while we're supposed to be working instead.

Teacher says: See me after class.