Apple March 27 Chicago event: as it happened

That's a wrap! The first Apple launch event of 2018 has taken place today (March 27) at Chicago's Lane Tech College Prep School, where it showed off the new iPad 9.7-inch. 

The hardware is mostly the same, with improvements made to the processor, but what stood out more was the software, which is now more prepped than ever for the classroom.

If you missed out on our live blog as the event happened, you can check out a recorded stream over on Apple's site. But why do that when we've brilliantly captured each moment below?

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Apple launch event live blog

All times in Central Daylight Time (Chicago)

11.04: That's it... we're wrapping up. Thanks for stopping by here... it's been real everyone. Man, my back is hurting. I'll see you again for WWDC 2018... that's going to be the marathon live blog, so get ready for a man losing his mind through his fingers.

11.01: Now we're leaving on a video showing kids collaborating on an iPad. All about making a project on gravity.

They're making so much effort on the project... it's a bit much, if I'm honest, but all the stuff you can do on the iPad is shown. These kids are hella smart... the teacher didn't even tell them which apps to use.

10.58: Video now of kids saying cute things about teachers. The room has melted. I feel that's just shooting fish in the barrel here...

Tim is back! By the way, I'm enjoying his colour combo. Nice dark sweater on top of a light shirt, clean light slacks and some fresh dual colours sneakers. Just letting you know.

He's wrapping up now. Thankfully, as these seats are designed for someone smaller than me.

10.56: Everyone Can Create is being previewed today, and will be ready to go in the fall of this year. Interesting it's taking this much time.

Let's go back to the new iPad... the lack of a price drop seems to be an issue. Why is there not an Apple Pencil bundled? Or just a massive drop in the price of last year's tablet?

10.54: This is more to just show how the iPad can allow you to be more interactive, letting you use the microphone and stereo speakers and the HD front-facing camera, allowing kids to go on camera.

The kids just did a little video explaining Mitosis with interactive videos... but I'm not sure what it is really. That's probably more to do with me than them.

10.52: I'm starting to struggle here. I wonder if this is going to go on a lot longer... we're not hearing a lot of new stuff here. Wait, what's Everyone Can Create?

It's a chance to help kids understand things better, giving teachers the resources in four disciplines, music, video, photography and drawing. That's where the Pencil will help.

10.50: Now we're hearing about how coding gave a child confidence... I'll be honest, I missed why because I was writing about 'Here Comes the Boom'. But there are robots being talked about on stage as a way to get children into coding.

Everyone loves to control a robot. That's almost too easy.

OH! That kid was teaching other kids to code as she was so good, learning leadership etc. Like Kevin James in... you get the picture.

10.47: Now we're talking about Swift Playgrounds, getting kids to code on a platform that's good for future Apple development... but more importantly, but coding in general.

That's just part of it - there's coding concepts all the way to making functional apps. And ARKit is coming through a module, that allows kids to use the new tech.

Teacher's Guides are coming to help people to understand how to teach coding. Kasia Derza is on stage, a teacher from Chicago. And she teaches children so they can help learn coding in fun ways.

She introduced them to Swift Playgrounds. That was pretty obviously coming. 

This is all making me think about that time that Kevin James become a better teacher in 'Here Comes the Boom' when he found his passion again. Where that was MMA, this is Swift Playgrounds. Very similar.

10.44: Talking about how a student recorded his presentation on an Apple device - I think a Mac, not an iPad - and they were able to deliver his presentation without getting worried in front of their peers.

That's nice. I hope they're not going to bring them out... no, we're talking about coding now. I wonder how that kid is doing now. Or if they know they're being talked about globally.

10.43: Nikole Blanchard is on stage now, and she's earned every badge. The teacher's teacher's pet, you might say.

Although there's a strong part of me that wants to become a teacher just so I can do this. I love winning things from a quiz.

10.41: Apple Teacher is getting an upgrade, allowing you to collaborate with other educators, where it'll be a repository for information and sharing information via the Learning Center.

It'll let you bring Clips into the classroom in new ways, and there are tests. For teachers. With badges, although they're already there.

10.40: ClassKit is coming too to allow users to integrate with Schoolwork, which will be available in June.

10.38: Schoolwork will make it easier to assign an activity within an app, so you can assign a worksheet. And you can check on their progress, their documents and all their student-y business on the go. 

Am I the only one worried about the ability to draw digital rude pictures with that Pencil?

Either way, Apple is going to make sure privacy is upheld here.

10.36: Classroom is coming to the Mac. Allowing teachers to communicate and connect with students.

There's a new app called Schoolwork too - thought this was coming. Something cloud based to assign work, see progress and use the apps.

10.31: Shared iPad has come, as well as Apple School manager - all things that Google does so well. You can now pick up any tablet from Apple and just be logged in within a minute. That's big news for educators.

I'm not sure about this price point - the Apple Pencil is the big change, but there's no cheaper Pencil on offer, and it's already expensive.

Apple is increasing the storage each student has to 200GB on iCloud, from 5GB. That got a big cheer, and it was badly needed.

Oh, wait - Logitech is unveiling a crayon for $49, to make it cheaper, as well as a $99 keyboard.

10.29: You can now dissect a frog digitally - got to hand it to Apple, that's the kind of app that's really gonna resonate in the media. Saving the frog from a stereotype.

It'll cost the same $329 for consumers, and $299 for the educators. It'll be available to buy today, so no wait on this.

10.27: Now we're talking about AR - Boulevard AR allows students allows them to look around a museum while just being in the classroom, seeing art up close. 

10.25: Holy crap, it's going to have 10-hour battery life, TouchID, the A10 Fusion chip, LTE... this is powerful. There can't be a price drop, surely?

He just made a nod to how it's even more powerful than any Chromebook. Not to be a missed point.

10.24:  You can record videos on the page, add sound, illustrations... there's a lot you can do with these books, and Pages is having group collaboration built right in.

That's interesting, as that's one of the reasons that Google Chromebooks began to gain traction five years ago.

10.22: Pages is getting smart annotation - a new beta trial means you can add notes right on the page itself. It's not just ink on top, they're anchored around the word.

The students are really loving this, by the way. They're sitting right next to me and it's cute to not only hear cynical, tired journalists. 

What have I become? Am I nothing but a tired hack blogging about tech? Am I wasting my life? No, Gareth, this isn't the time for this. Digital Book creation is coming to the iPad. Back in the game, fool.

10.21: More iPad Pencil-enabled apps keep coming, he says, along with Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and all three are being updated to make use of Apple Pencil.

10.20: The Apple Pencil support is confirmed. The same functionality in the Pencil on this new tablet, with the same sub-pixel set up, and high resolution screen. This doesn't sound like it's gonna be cheaper.

10.18: We're about to see a new iPad that takes the education experience even further. There's an Apple Pencil drawing on the screen designing a new tablet.

Fingers manipulating the touchscreen. This is the new 9.7-inch iPad, and make it better for learning, apparently.

10.17: We're not getting a lot new from Cassey, she's just showing how kids can use the tablet to see their learning in video and learn more. Also, how those that don't have English as a first language have been helped by this.

She's off, Joz is back. 

10.14: There's so much you can do on the iPad and the creativity apps that are offered, says Joz. He's talking up the sheer volume of things you can do with the iPad in education. 

'These are available to students of all abilities,' he says. But let's not forget that they're not the cheapest - that needs to be solved today. We're now meeting Cassey Williams, a teacher from London. She sounds very confident, but I could just be biased because of the accent. 

Woo, Year 2! They don't have that in America. Fun fact: we called those in Year 2 'oldie mouldies' when I was in the bottom year.

10.12: Greg Jozwiak is on stage to talk iPad - guessing this is going to be the new hardware. Or what if it's not? What if this is all we get, just a picture of Joz standing in front of a calligraphic writing of the word iPad?

10.10: Kathleen gave us the skinny on a story of how kids are using 'connect-ed'... oh, connected. Clever. Tim is back, and giving us a little philosophy and how students are making their own books, programming drums and composing their own songs around the world.

10.08: Kathleen Richardson is on stage now, to talk about using Apple products in the classroom. She used to be a classroom teacher, but now works with Apple to help educators use Apple tech in their classes.

10.06: Now Tim is talking about Apple's efforts into the need to code and teaching that to kids, and how retail is offering tailored classes to kids and teachers to help them out.

He keeps giving a shout out to Chicago and the room erupts. It's an easy win for him.

10.04: Just realised that there are a lot of the high school students here today. That explains the whooping. Also showing that Apple is 40 years old, and how education has always been embedded in the process.

10.02: Tim Cook is on stage, lauding the marches this week. The audience liked that. He's just called the kids courageous from the video and is proud to be in Chicago, with educators here sharing the belief that technology has a place in the school.

10.01: There are little kids talking in lispy little voices that talk about how amazing education is with childish grammar. If I don't get over my cynicism now then I'm going to struggle through this show.

10:00: Lights down. Damn that's efficient Apple. Cue video of children playing.

09.57: The event will be starting soon, according to the disembodied voice that echoed across the auditorium. I now believe these are always high-ranking Apple execs after I found out Jay Blahnik, Apple's Director of Health and Fitness, was the voice of the Nike+ Apple software.

09.55: It's Bob Marley playing now. What clues can we glean from that? None. None at all. It's a playlist.

09.50: The auditorium is filling up fast now, and if I shut my eyes I could be at any Apple launch. Loads of journalists talking about things that I feel I should know about and generic background 'hip' music on multiple speakers all around. 

The sense of dread as my fingers may be forced to work for four hours straight. 

The feeling too full because I ate too much food.

The worry that I'll need a rest break and I won't be able to have one.

It's a magical time.

09.46: The Apple helpers have started what can only be described as a screaming contest fused with a Mexican Wave. I don't know why they're doing it but it's making my brain hurt.

09.37: Still got a few minutes before we start - so what is Apple going to launch today? Well, very likely a new iPad for starters - and that one will need to be cheaper.

To achieve that, we can imagine that Apple will be reusing some older components, in the same way it managed to make the iPhone SE so much cheaper. So get ready for older screen technology, something like the A9 chipset from 2015 that powered the iPhone 6S.

If it can do that, then we might actually see an iPad that costs just US$259 (which converts to £190 or AU$340, although it'll more likely be £249 / AU350) or less, which would be a real win.

Would Apple go that low? Is it willing to risk the app experience by using older hardware, or has it worked out a way to get it working nicely?

09.26 We're now seated in the auditorium, and you can just feel the historic teen angst seeping through every pore. The jocks, the nerds, the theater lovers... I've been shunned by them all in my time, so I think I know what I'm talking about.

09.06 All media are getting these - it's pretty odd and makes me feel a bit like I've gone back in time. And now I'm stressed that I won't make the most of this opportunity and rewrite my history or what if I do and I'm not writing this live blog any more.

Basically, is it more Back To The Future or Doctor Who theories of time travel that I should be worried about? Will I meet my own mother here at this American high school she never visited? So many questions

08.58: I don't know if I'm going to be able to make it into the auditorium if I don't move away from this food. But I'll try for you, dear reader.

So, let's have another think about what today is all about. We know this is going to be an education-focused event, but that makes the narrative quite interesting.

In the US, the Chromebook is making huge waves in the education space and thoroughly eating Apple's lunch (which, let's be honest, I would do if it were anywhere as good as this breakfast).

The reason is these are constantly-connected cheap laptops, that offer a keyboard, screen and a place to do your schoolwork. Where these aren't things that resonate amazingly with consumers, in education they're perfect.

Google has seized on this to create dashboards and control software that give great power to the school administrators - it might not make money on the hardware (as it doesn't make it) but it does make money on that platform.

So Apple needs to fight back - and the first thing needed is a cheaper iPad. Once again, it'll have to fight in the premium space, focusing on the high-end schools where things like interactive apps and more powerful projects can be afforded on a wider scale.

08.40 - My school canteen was nowhere near as adept as this.

08.35 - Starting to wonder if I've stumbled into Hogwarts...

08.30 - I've arrived at school... which is an odd feeling considering I'm actually at work. Anyway, it's pretty big.

07.00 - We're awake! And the Apple Store is down! What does that mean? New hardware is almost guaranteed to be unveiled at the Apple launch event today.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.