• Gwen Hedden

Google vs. Apple

Updated: Jul 6, 2018

Choosing the right technology for your budget and school can be tricky. Here are some things to think about...

In the past few years, Google has made a strong case for themselves within the K-12 market.  With G Suite for Education platform being free for verified Educational institutions, there is little wonder why so many schools have adopted it.  G Suite offers unlimited cloud-based Drive storage for all users along with free access to Gmail and G Suite productivity applications, embedded apps and tools, VR programs like Cardboard and Expedition, and user-friendly IT and device management platforms.  As more and more Ed. Tech tools are integrating with Google Classroom, and educators are increasingly working to leveraging the wiki-based nature of G Suite to foster collaboration, Google has become synonymous with the inherently collaborative and connected classroom.  However, with the release of Apple’s new iPad, Google may finally have some competition.

Last month, Apple announced the release of a new iPad that would significantly enhance a student’s access to all aspects of 21st century learning -- by engaging students’ creativity and critical thinking with new curriculum initiatives, allowing for seamless collaboration and communication with peers and teachers across all iWork applications, and offering the freedom of expression and choice in their projects, students using this device have the opportunity to experience learning on their terms in a way that is deeply meaningful and important to them.

While Google may have the edge on the K-12 market when it comes to a cloud-based platform, Google’s Chromebook has definitely met its match.  Apple’s new iPad is best described as a variation from the 9.7” iPad Pro-- the integration of the Apple Pencil, increased battery life, and ability to support multi-tasking, are all significant upgrades from the base-level iPads that were previously available for schools in the past.  

While iPads have been considered by many schools to be the unattainable option due to their price point, the native features and applications now made available on the new iPad may justify the higher cost ($329.95 for 32GB). To learn more about the features and improvements to new iPad and its focus on Education, read Does the 2018 iPad Change the Game?

For so long, Chromebooks have served as the cheap alternative to a laptop, and therefore have been the popular device for the K-12 market.  However, their short lifespan and inability to hold value have many school leaders feeling some buyer’s remorse. Daniel Weber of K-12 Education, pointed out in his February article, “iPad or Chromebook: What’s better for your budget?” that residual value alone justifies the upfront cost of Apple products; with a four-year residual value of $80, iPads surpass Chromebooks which have a $0 trade-in value within the same timeframe.  And too, it’s important to acknowledge that with chromebooks you often get what you pay for-- because several chromebooks aren’t rugged or durable enough to withstand the continual stress of a school day, the recurrent annual costs to repair/replace them often are enough to justify the expense of a sturdier device.

The iPad is NOT, and was never intended to be a laptop...

That being said, if an inexpensive “laptop” is what you want, the chromebook may be your answer.  The iPad is NOT, and was never intended to be a laptop-- it lacks a trackpad or MacBook Pro-like keyboard, and has an entirely different “feel”.  With the release of the iPad Pro in 2016, Apple showed that the iPad could do everything a laptop could do, and then some. The similarity between the iPad and the universally-popular iPhone is intentional.  The parallel experience makes it much easier to use for kids who have grown up using their parents’ iPhones. This familiarity is a huge benefit to young users, as navigating the device isn’t an impediment to the student’s ability to engage with the learning.  

As many educators will attest, students struggle to type on a traditional keyboard or mouse-- this often serves as a stumbling block as they attempt to use a chromebook or laptop, preventing them from being able to fully immerse themselves in the lesson. Conversely, they are much more comfortable using the touch-screens and smaller, digital keyboards--this, paired with the addition of the intuitive Apple Pencil, makes the iPad a much more student-centered choice.

When it comes right down to it, the decision will need to be based on what the school perceives and values as “learning”.  Apple has made the first move in a new frontier, putting a premium on innovation and creativity over productivity. As Ulanoff stated, “...perhaps everyone is operating under the false assumption that the educational market is a zero-sum game. Yes, the Chromebook can be the perfect school paper platform, but most entry-level Chromebooks can’t compare to some of the innovative ways an iPad app can teach young people. Can’t these two systems be considered complementary?”.


In all honesty, it is possible to have your cake and eat it too-- schools can harness the power of both Apple and Google’s solutions for Education-- with the device agnostic Chrome Browser, an Apple device can utilize G Suite just as well as anything else.  If you are interested in learning more about how you can integrate these technologies into your environment, contact us at Spark Education Solutions and one of our Ed. Tech specialists will be happy to work with you to make sure you are making the right choices for your school!


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