Apple has released details of the beta version of iOS 9.3, and it certainly sounds like the company is going after Chromebooks' success in schools. iOS 9.3 includes a ton of functionality aimed at classrooms,device management, and device sharing. Let's start with the features aimed at us grown-ups, though.
First, iOS now has f.lux built in. Er, I mean, "Night Shift." For those unfamiliar with the concept, this feature tweaks the displays's color temperature according to the time of day and ambient light conditions. The most common scenario involves making the screen a warmer shade of white as night sets in, both to make the display easier on your eyes and to mess with your sleep cycle less. The Notes app now has password protection, complete with TouchID-enabled authentication.
For iPhone users, the Health app now tracks and displays more types of data, and makes it "simpler than ever to find third-party apps to track your health and wellness." The app now collects and handles data from the Apple Watch, too. The News app should now be faster and offer better suggestions. The CarPlay app will also offer ideas for music "handpicked by experts, plus selections based on your preferences," as well as a "Nearby" feature that will show gas stations, restaurants, and other places of interest near your location.
Moving on to the classroom, Apple seemingly wants to make the iPad a more serious education device, and it's making it easier for teachers to manage their students and classes. A new Classroom app offers a "bird's eye" view of students and what apps they're using. Teachers can launch or lock apps from their own devices and broadcast students' screens to an Apple TV-equipped television set. Roaming profiles are now available, too—a student can log in any iPad and pull up his account. Sadly, iPad owners outside of educational environments can't take advantage of this feature yet. Finally, the Apple School Manager lets school staff manage student-specific Apple IDs, apps and boks, and prepare iPads for MDM.
Anyone brave enough to try the beta version of the new iOS can do so by joining Apple's Beta Software Program here.
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