Today, Apple will hold its "Let's Take a Field Trip" event at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. It's expected to be a showcase of new products and software that's geared toward "creative new ideas for students and teachers."
With Apple's focus on schools and the education sector this time around, the biggest buzz is around a new iPad Pro and a cheaper entry-level iPad that will reportedly start at the sweet price point of $259.
The iPad price drop is a great move for Apple if you ask me and could very well revitalize the iPad market. This will position the iPad as a more premium choice amidst the onslaught of cheap gadgets like the Amazon Fire, Android tablets and Chromebooks.
That $259 price point will be a perfect entry point for students and teachers looking to move into Apple's premium hardware and software combo.
There are even credible rumors swirling that the entry-level iPad will be compatible with Apple's Pencil. Judging by the event's invite freehand calligraphic design, this may very well be the case. Now frankly, that's quite exciting!
iOS 11.3 is here!
Speaking of iOS, today's "Let's Take a Field Trip" event will likewise be the venue for the unveiling of iOS 11.3, the latest major feature update for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch gadgets.
Some of the new iOS 11.3 features were teased earlier this year and are already in beta but we're expecting them to be officially announced during the event.
The biggest update will be Battery Health, a battery feedback tool that was developed in response to the iPhone performance throttling controversy last year. Other new features include a Health Records app and expanded ARKit abilities. Lastly, because people can't seem to get enough of them - more animojis!
Read on and learn more about the new essential features of iOS 11.3.
1. Battery Health
A new feature in iOS 11.3 is a screen within the battery settings section called Battery Health. Not only will this section tell you the current maximum capacity of your battery, it will also give you a way to disable "Performance Management."
Performance Management is Apple's term for the throttling of an iPhone's processing speed and other features due to degraded battery performance.
In the new Battery Health settings page, there will be a "Peak Performance Capability" section that allows you to disable Performance Management and make your iPhone always run at full speed despite having a battery that can no longer deliver "necessary peak power."
This means your iPhone is at risk of an unexpected shutdown if your battery is no longer functioning adequately.
Kudos to Apple. This is exactly what we were asking for - let iPhone users have a choice between throttled performance or sudden shutdowns.
All gadgets on iOS 11.3 will have "Performance Management" disabled by default. Performance Management and the option to disable it will first kick in when an iPhone experiences its first shutdown due to battery issues.
Keep in mind that you can't re-enable Performance Management and throttle your iPhone until it unexpectedly shuts down again. Apple said that Performace Management will be automatically turned on anyway after every unexpected shutdown due to battery issues.
2. iOS Health Records
The Health Records app of iOS 11.3 is a new feature that allows users to view their complete medical records on their iPhones.
This updated Health Records section will gather all available data from hospitals, clinics, and existing Health app data in one place so iPhone users can access it anytime. This includes information about an individual's allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vital stats.
Before the update, these medical records were typically stored in multiple locations and it required users to log in to each provider's website or app. Apple will change all since the update will provide a quick and convenient way to view one's complete medical information.
Worried about your privacy and security? Apple said that the Health Records' data is also encrypted and protected with an iPhone's passcode.
According to Apple, they worked with the health care community to create a consumer-friendly health records interface based on FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), a system for transferring electronic medical records.
To aid users in this quick exchange of medication information, they will also receive timely notifications whenever the data is updated.
3. New Augmented Reality features
iOS's Augmented Reality support via ARKit is also getting a few upgrades.
With iOS 11.3, aside from horizontal surfaces like tables and floors, ARKit will also recognize vertical surfaces like walls. This capability will surely improve the ARKit's ability to integrate virtual objects into the real world.
Imagine filling your walls with virtual paintings or bringing movie posters to life. This will all be possible with iOS 11.3.
4. New Animojis
Fans of the iPhone X's cute animated facial tracking avatars called "animojis" will be pleased to know that four more characters will be added to the roster in iOS 11.3.
Animojis bring personalized animated character faces to your messages via the iPhone X's Face ID sensors. With iOS 11.3, you can now tease your friends as a dragon, a bear, a skeleton, or a lion. Ooh, more wacky faces to play with!
There's more to expect from Apple in 2018
Overall, these are all welcome additions to iOS 11. Although mostly feature expansions, the Battery Health and Peak Performance options will provide a great system feedback tool for iPhone users.
And it's not just new iPads and new iOS updates that are in the Apple pipeline. We are also expecting plenty more surprises this year! Click here to see the all the exciting new Apple products we're expecting in 2018.