Original deal tainted with cost overruns, conflicts of interest, other issues
The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that both Apple and educational curriculum and textbook publisher Pearson will re-bid on a new contract to supply the LA United School District (LAUSD) with computer and tablet options as part of a program that could eventually grow to $500 million. Both companies were the core of the previous contract that would have seen all students receiving iPads, but questions of cost overruns, problems and lack of transparency combined to force the district to cancel that arrangement.
Online store discounts 'still valid'
The Apple on Campus program -- which lets students buy discounted Macs and accessories through their school -- has been halted in Belgium and Switzerland, according to Apple officials. "Yes, Apple on Campus was stopped. However, the Apple Education Store discounts are obviously still valid," says a spokesperson for Apple Switzerland. Those prices are not as cheap as those that were available through Apple on Campus, however. One exception to the discontinuations is a program in Switzerland known as Neptune.
Program will also include 1,000 MacBook models, rise to $8 million per year
Even as questions arise about the LA Unified School District's handling of its botched and now-abandoned iPad program, Apple continues to win school districts over to the tablet. The St. Paul School District in Minnesota is launching a program that will offer tens of thousands of iPads to students in a total of 61 schools over time, with an initial rollout to 37 schools in the city. The district is leasing the equipment from Apple, which includes up to 1,000 unspecified MacBook models.
Superintendent, deputy had close links to Apple, Pearson
The superintendent of Los Angeles' Unified School District, John Deasy, has formally suspended future implementation of an iPad contract with Apple. "Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple," he writes in a memo issued to the Board of Education. "Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the [project]."
Sales up 79 percent over previous year, sales expected to hit 14.4 million units by 2017
Research firm Gartner released a report today over the growth of the Chromebook market so far this year. In the report, the firm states that Chromebooks are expected to sell 5.2 million units by the conclusion of 2014. This marks a substantial growth over the previous year for the low-cost notebooks, powered by Google's cloud-based operating system.
Workers say institution is 'meticulously planned'
Citing three people who have attended the school, the New York Times has published a profile of Apple University, the institution used to indoctrinate workers into Apple's corporate culture. The dean of the school is Joel Podolny, who took over full-time in February. The school is reportedly "meticulously planned, with polished presentations and a gleaming veneer that masks a great deal of effort;" one worker comments that "even the toilet paper in the bathrooms is really nice." Classrooms are described as well-lit and trapezoid-shaped, with stadium seating so that everyone has a clear field of view. In some cases, though, teachers travel outside the US to present lectures.
Apple's iPad still seen as ideal for younger students, but keyboards, notebooks making comeback
A number of schools that had instituted large-scale programs to supply students with iPads or other tablets are now reconsidering the idea, particularly for post-elementary students, a new article from The Atlantic notes, in an investigation that could have some consequences for Apple's renewed push into education. While administrators, teachers and students alike appreciate the iPad, the shortcoming of no built-in physical keyboard is becoming an issue for Common Core and secondary-school students.
Former EPA chief touts Apple's green initiatives to reflect theme of meeting
At an annual gathering of Apple Distinguished Educators with a theme on emphasizing environmental responsibility, Apple Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson spoke the assembly, updating the educators about Apple's own efforts and adding that her goal is to get the company to 100 percent renewable energy across all of its operations, a long-term mission the iPhone maker has already made significant strides towards.
Upgraded Raspberry Pi adds more USB ports, microSD slot
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched an upgraded version of its popular Raspberry Pi micro computer. The Raspberry Pi Model B+ is similar to the original credit card-sized PC in many respects, but with quite a few updates to modernize and improve the device, as well as making it even more useful for various electronics-based projects and in education.
Extra $2B Wi-Fi fund offered on top of existing E-Rate program
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a $2 billion fund to help provide Wi-Fi equipment to schools to create wireless networks. The fund, on top of the existing E-Rate program within the Universal Service Fund (USF), came under criticism from teachers unions, schools, and other groups before being approved today by a vote of 3-2.
Menubar app supports 80 languages, voice translation, currently 50 percent off
The popular translation app iTranslate, previously for iOS devices only, arrived on the Mac on Thursday with the release of iTranslate for the Mac on the Mac App Store. The program, which is accessed from the menubar when running, offers instant translation with support for over 80 languages. Users simply input or paste text and the program provides a translation into the desired language. It also feature voice output so that users can hear the correct pronunciation of a word or phrase.
Norway, Sweden, Hong Kong among new places
Apple's Volume Purchase Program is coming to 16 more locations in the near future, according to pages on the company's Business and Education sites. Most of the new regions are in Europe, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Also joining in are Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
All Australian Apple Stores, more than 140 US stores now using 100 percent green energy
On Wednesday, Apple released its fiscal 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report and announced through it that the company will focus on achieving "net zero energy use," a goal it has already accomplished with all 21 of its Australian retail stores and 140 of its US outlets, alongside its latest data centers and its forthcoming Apple Campus 2 headquarters. The solar array that supplies most of the power used at the Maiden, North Carolina data center is the largest privately-owned array in the country.
Discussions let students, teachers communicate
As promised at the end of June, Apple has released a major update of iTunes U, v2.0. On the iPad, teachers can now create and manage courses entirely on their own, including assignments, outlines, and other course materials. Custom content can be added via an "Open in iTunes U" extension in other iOS apps such as Pages and Keynote; photos and video can be captured and uploaded directly. If a teacher is associated with a qualifying institution, they can publish courses to the official iTunes U catalog.
$100 gift cards for Macs, $50 cards for iPhones and iPads
As anticipated, Apple has launched the 2014 edition of its Back to School promotion in the US. The offer is open to qualifying students and faculty, and gives people a $100 Apple Store gift card for buying a Mac, or a $50 card for buying an iPhone or iPad. It applies on top of regular educational discounts, which do however exclude iPhones.
Six-color Apple logo makes restyled comeback, of sorts
During today's San Francisco Pride Parade, some 5,000 Apple employees -- dressed in white t-shirts with a modern twist on the six-color classic Apple logo -- marched alongside CEO Tim Cook and Environmental Director Lisa Jackson in the iPhone maker's first public participation in the event. Employees handed out special "one free song" iTunes cards, and the company featured event-friendly apps on its App Store, such as Find My Friends. Apple also set up an LGBT Pride station on iTunes Radio for the day.
After iPad issues, district allows high schools to pick from one of six devices
After a $30 million deal to provide Apple iPads to students at 47 campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District went sour, the district is now turning toward a hodgepodge of laptops and hybrid computers. In an article from the Los Angeles Times, the shift marks a departure from the one-device standard that was previously adopted.
Deals expected to be similar to 2013 offerings
Apple will launch the 2014 edition of its flagship Back to School promotion on July 1, a source says. In the US, at least, the event is expected to be identical to its 2013 counterpart, giving qualifying shoppers a $100 iTunes gift card alongside a new Mac, or a $50 card if they buy a new iPhone or iPad. It's not clear which countries will be involved, but last year's list also included Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.
Teachers will be able to modify all course aspects
Apple has announced that a major update is coming to the iTunes U iPad app on July 8. The app will not only gain class discussions, but full teacher control of courses -- allowing educators to personally create, edit, and manage them. This includes adding content from iWork, iBooks Author, and educational apps, plus photos and videos captured directly from an iPad.
Complete note-taking app with notebook metaphor, iPad version available
Software developers Circus Ponies has been making its flagship Mac product Notebook for over 10 years (and it was originally on NeXTStep before that), only last month introducing the latest major version, 4.0. The program has been a stalwart, comprehensive note-taking app that tries to include every feature students and professionals who need more than bullet points might conceivably need, and goes well beyond typical "Note" or "Notepad" type apps. With the release of a significant bug-fix update (v4.0.3), we thought it was time to appraise this skeuomorphic scratch pad.
Student coupon can push price as low as $830
Apple's cheaper $1,099 iMac, launched on the 18th, is already being sold for less at some third-party vendors. Best Buy is offering the computer for $980, while B&H Photo has marked it down to $979. Students shopping at Best Buy can use an electronic coupon to further reduce the price to only $830.
Every app refreshed
Adobe has officially revealed the 2014 update of its Creative Cloud desktop suite. Every app has been updated; the suite's core software, Photoshop CC, has gained new Blur Gallery motion effects, as well as a tool called Focus Mask, which makes it possible to highlight individual sections in photos with low depth-of-field. Other changes include new Content-Aware functions, Smart Object linking across documents, and the ability to sync settings for one layer across all others.
Discounts require a eduction-institutional email address; sale runs through July 12
From now until July 12, US students and others who have an "edu" email address tied to a recognized educational institution will see significant savings on Macs and iOS hardware from Best Buy. The retailer's "College Tech Savings" features a number of single-use coupons that take $150 off MacBooks and Macs, and $50 off iPads. The coupons apply to any capacity or model of MacBook, iMac or iPad available through the retailer's site or in-store, though sales tax applies in nearly all cases.
Includes separate iMovie, iBooks workshops
Apple has opened registration for the 2014 edition of its annual Apple Camps. The program is aimed at teaching creative projects to kids aged 8 to 12 while simultaneously promoting Apple products. This year, two sets of three-day workshops are available: one is dedicated to creating a short film using iMovie and the iPad version of GarageBand, while the other involves producing an interactive book using iBooks Author and illustrations done on an iPad.
Football match to take one-year break from Roman numerals
Apple has joined with some of its allies and rivals over a common cause: bringing the 50th Super Bowl football game to the new Santa Clara Stadium in 2016. Apple, Google, Gap, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Seagate, Virgin America and Yahoo have all pledged $2 million to help offset the public costs of the event, such as security and youth groups, to alleviate the burden on taxpayers. By coincidence, 2016 is also the year Apple expects to complete its new, $5 billion headquarters, known as "Campus 2."
Dell to issue credit on money spent, district to use state contract for iPads
After a contract with Dell failed to live up to expectations, a school district in Minnesota has pulled the plug and turned to Apple devices for their students. The St. Paul school district had sought to roll out a new technology initiative with Dell devices for its schools in the 2014-15 school year, but now won't see a full iPad program rollout until 2015-16.
Discounts knock just $20-30 off prices
Apple has extended discounts to the iPad at its educational store. The cuts are relatively modest, in the US only knocking $20 off of the cost of the Mini, Retina Mini, and fourth-generation iPad, plus $30 off of the iPad Air. That puts 16GB Wi-Fi models of the tablets at $279, $379/$379 and $469, respectively.
Online code education platform announces new partnerships in five countries
Codecademy, an educational startup aiming to provide accessible learning of programming code, has announced expansion into five more markets -- the UK, France, Brazil, Estonia and Argentina. Agreements with educational and government groups have allowed Codecademy to be available on a localized level, with partnerships including work on customized programs, and non-English language content. Presently, Codecademy courses remain free.
Free classes cover teaching basics of internet understanding, culture
Firefox developer Mozilla has unveiled a plan today that would offer online courses aimed to train Internet users and potential teachers on some of the fundamentals of the Internet. The courses, which will be free, will "help everyone from formal educators to enthusiastic engineers learn how to teach the basic mechanics, culture and citizenship of the web."
May be small step towards holding grip in educational tablet market
Apple has quietly extended the amount of coverage included in AppleCare+ plans for schools buying iPads. At the company's educational institution stores, the checkout process for an iPad offers the ability to pick up an AppleCare+ warranty for $99. While the price has remained unchanged, the amount of included coverage has grown from two to three years.
Classroom uses Google Drive, Docs, Gmail for assignment management
Google has a previewed a new tool for educators to communicate with their students. Launching in a limited beta, Classroom is being billed as a way for teachers to create and organize assignments from students quickly, which Google hopes will give teachers more time to work with the students instead of dealing with marking and other paperwork.
Inexpensive wearable aimed to incentivize healthy habits, good eating
Educational hardware developer LeapFrog has unveiled the LeapBand, the first wearable activity tracker designed for children that encourages active play and other healthy habits. As the child earns points through active play, additional games are unlocked, as well as more challenges, extra levels of play, and also virtual rewards given for an on-screen pet.
Changes remove option for advertising in educational version of Google Apps
Google will no longer scan the e-mail of students to serve advertising, the company has revealed. Users of its Google Apps for Education service will be safe from having their data and e-mails accessed by Google's monitoring systems for advertising purposes, with the move affecting more than 30 million students, teachers, and administrators around the world.
Microsoft rolls out classroom-targeted search engine with controls and zero ads
Microsoft has launched an ad-free search engine for school classroom use, dubbed as "Bing in the Classroom." A specialized search tool, the classroom-designed Bing has no advertisements, and offers strong privacy controls and parental settings to filter out adult content. Bing's ad-free search is available to all eligible K-12 schools for free.
UC Berkeley was birthplace of BSD Unix kernel used in OS X, iOS
Apple has again expanded its Maps program for both iOS and OS X by adding 3D "Flyover" support for the east side of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the city of Berkeley and its University of California campus, which by happenstance is the birthplace of the original UNIX used as the foundation of both OS X and iOS. The 3d Flyover feature has generally been regarded as one of Maps' best features, alongside turn-by-turn driving navigation.
SSL bug could still be found in Mac servers running PostgreSQL, MacPorts, other add-ons
Apple has confirmed on Thursday that all of its operating systems and key web services, as well as its website and iCloud service, are not affected by the "Heartbleed" SSL flaw that is threatening much of the web. The "Heartbleed" bug, a flaw in the implementation of later versions of OpenSSL -- which is used by many but not all websites to handle secure log-ins and other transactions -- has put as much as two-thirds of the World Wide Web at risk.
Exhibit helps Westerners understand the fear of living in area with land mines
To help promote awareness of land mines and international efforts to clear them from former battlefields around the world, a museum in New York City will be hosting an exhibit utilizing Apple's iBeacon technology, headphones and an iOS or Android app to create a "virtual minefield." The idea, part of the UN International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action being held on April 4, is to allow users to experience the fear of land mines.
Former media event lives on as accessory, app showcase
The Macworld Expo (now called Macworld/iWorld) certainly isn't the show it was five years ago, the last year Apple attended. Its a much smaller show -- maybe 25,000 attendees at best -- but with a more sustainable focus: a showcase for computer and mobile peripherals, accessories and gadgets, as well as a gathering of app developers. Because Apple doesn't make big announcements timed to the conference anymore -- and the one company that did, Microsoft, chose not to have its Office for iPad event there -- the Macworld/iWorld show doesn't make the news as often as it used to.
Online learning company Coursera adds Android app
Coursera, a free online education company, has released an app for Android, joining its iOS counterpart. Coursera offers over 600 real college and university courses from various educational institutions, and students can receive a mark of completion if all components of a course are finished. The newly-released app allows users to browse the course list and enroll in classes, stream video lectures, and download class materials. Free to download, Coursera's app is available through Google Play.
2013 Supplier Responsibility summary builds on previous successes
Apple has updated its Supplier Responsibility report, highlighting both continuing improvement and pointing out new initiatives designed to further improve conditions and social issues along its supply chain. Apple reports it achieved 95 percent compliance among all suppliers in limiting workers to a maximum 60-hour work week in 2013, and the company has doubled the number of factories offering free worker education and development programs. The company is also now training additional environment, health and safety (EHS) personnel for its workplaces.
Deals with unauthorized purchases made by children in games
As part of a settlement Apple agreed to with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over problems and excessive charges made by children through in-app purchases (IAPs), the company has sent out letters to some iTunes account holders, offering refunds "in certain cases" where a child has been able to make unauthorized IAPs without the parents' awareness. There have been numerous incidents made public of children who racked up extraordinary charges through IAPs.
Secondary-school stores have until end of May to sell hardware
Only a day after analyst Charlie Wolf noted that Apple's North American education-segment sales had hit an all-time quarterly record, Apple has reportedly declined to re-authorize contracts permitting Apple Authorized Campus Stores across Canada, effectively ending the program -- allegedly due to declining on-campus sales. The current contracts are scheduled to end with the current school year, beginning in June.
Study notes US education sales now up over $1B per quarter
Analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham and Company has focused on Apple's success in the education market in his latest note to investors. Pointing out that the company recently achieved EDU segment sales of over $1 billion per quarter, Wolf notes that Mac sales have held steady over the past seven years, including post-2010 when the iPad was introduced and became an extremely popular educational tool, eating into sales of other PCs.
SmartSound Software announces new soundtrack creation plug-in for Final Cut Pro X
SmartSound Software has announced a new plug-in for Final Cut Pro X, offering custom music creation like soundtracks. Designed to take advantage of Final Cut Pro X's new Generator technology, Sonicfire Pro 5's new direct access to the Final Cut timeline, providing an efficient workflow. Users can drag a SmartSound Music Placeholder from the Generators section onto the FCPX timeline where music needs to be added, and extend it to the desired length.
Institutional and volume buyers now get better price break
Organizations and enterprises that spend more than $5,000 a year on Apple products will be seeing an increased discount on volume buying of Apple hardware. Apple as of last week has improved its hardware volume purchasing discount, and added the unlocked iPhone and Apple TV to the program for the first time. The improvement in discount ranges from one to three percent, depending on the level of annual spending on Apple products.
Ruggedized Latitude 13, multi-touch S520, Mobile Computing Cart shown
Bolstering its education lineup, Dell today announced the Latitude 13 Education Series laptop, Dell Mobile Computing Cart upgrade kit and Dell Interactive Projector S520. While tailored for the schoolroom, the Latitude 13 ruggedized laptop is also available to Dell online customers.
Conservative group's proposal questioned costs of environmental initiatives, more
A shareholder questioner from a conservative front group, the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), who questioned Apple's humanitarian policies of worker education, services for the disabled, and particularly environmental initiatives -- and also demanded that the company commit to only policies and projects that were explicitly profitable -- was sternly rebuked by Apple CEO Tim Cook in an unusually direct exchange.
Apple changes and adds to mobile device management programs
Ahead of the release of iOS 7.1, expected in the middle of next month, Apple has proceeded with an overhaul of its existing Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms for educational, enterprise and institutional clients. It launched a new Volume Services web site earlier this month, and has now activated a number of features on that site, kicking off a big push for large-scale iOS deployments.
Lets users check connection speed, aggregate national averages
The US Federal Communications Commission has refreshed a broadband speed-checking tool for iOS that was originally created in 2010, and updated it for iOS 7 and other modern technologies. The free FCC Speed Test is part of the Measuring Broadband America initiative, and is part of an FCC initiative to get a better "performance map" of US broadband. Users can view historical test data and current performance using the program.
Software takes phones with power, Wi-Fi to calculate complex problems
At the Mobile World Congress, Phone manufacturer HTC has unveiled an initiative to allow idle Android smartphones -- connected to a power source and networked by Wi-Fi simultaneously -- to use processing time to solve computing problems suitable for solution on a massively parallel computing cluster. HTC claims that using the "Power to Give" program, the combined power of one million idle HTC One phones add up to a one-petaflop supercomputer, which, if indexed, would place it around 35th on the top 500 supercomputers in operation today.