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Why iOS 8 will be a big deal to educators

Fraser Speirs | June 9, 2014
Fraser Speirs is a leader in bringing the iPad into schools. Here's what he thinks iOS 8 will bring to the education market that iOS 7 didn't.

Keyboard Replacement
This is perhaps a smaller issue. I have not seen much evidence in my school that the iOS keyboard is a barrier to using the device. iOS typing is all about practice, something our students get plenty of. This is also true of a physical keyboard too--something forgotten by many commentators who confuse "what they grew up with" and "the way things should be".

That said, the iOS keyboard has always presented its key caps in upper case. This is actually a problem for younger users who, for starters, don't know any letters at all but, secondly, they're always introduced to lower-case letters first. I hope some enterprising developer will build a lower-case keyboard for schools. Just don't set the caps in Comic Sans, OK?

iPad 2 support
iPad 2 was the iPad that wouldn't die. It lived on in Apple's product line long after it had been made obsolete by newer devices with far faster processors, more memory, better screens, cameras, accessory connectors and network radios. Apple finally ditched it in March, replacing it with one model of the fourth-generation iPad. This was a good thing.

In the years 2011-2014, schools were buying iPad 2 like it was going out of style (which it was). The main reason was that device-to-student ratios trump all other considerations. The most important thing in my experience is to get to a situation where students don't have to share devices, and iPad 2 made that possible for some schools.

I don't have hard data on this, but I imagine that the installed base of iPad 2 is disproportionately slanted towards education. The fact that iOS 8 will run on iPad 2 is a source of relief to many IT managers in schools.

Overall, I'm delighted that iOS has come out of a slightly awkward stage in its development. iOS 6 and iOS 7 really didn't move the platform forward in substantial ways that had obvious impact on users. iOS 8 promises to take the experience of the serious iOS user to a whole new level. I can't wait to see what developers do with it.


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