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James Martin

Apple's Chicago iPad event: What we didn't get

As expected, Apple unveiled a new low-cost iPad and a bunch of education-friendly software initiatives. But other products will apparently need to wait for WWDC or beyond.

Apple's education event in Chicago delivered the expected new (though not exactly cheaper) iPad with support for the Pencil stylus, as well as a slew of education-related apps and services for students and teachers. But that was basically it.

Given the education tilt of the event, most of us didn't expect to see much more. Still, there are plenty of things in the Apple rumorverse that the company could've slipped in, either on stage, or even just in its online store once it refreshed after the event.

To that end, here's a quick rundown of what we didn't get from Apple today in Chicago.

A "real" price cut on the iPad: Leading up to this event, reports kept referring to a "new, cheaper iPad," with a $259 price sometimes thrown around. While the addition of Pencil support -- formerly reserved for the much more expensive iPad Pros -- and a faster A10 processor are great additions for no additional charge, this 2018 iPad is still the exact same price as its 2017 predecessor: $329 in the US, £319 in the UK and AU$469 in Australia. (Yes, the $299 price for schools is a mere $10 less than the previous education price.) 

It's probably those dashed expectations that led to something of a "that's it?" backlash on Twitter once the price was announced.

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A groundbreaking keyboard accessory: A key wishlist item for iPad fans is a keyboard attachment, or keyboard case, that brings the iPad into true laptop replacement territory. While Apple touted a new Logitech Rugged Combo 2 keyboard case -- $99, for schools only -- it still features a familiar kickstand, bouncing it from "lapability" contention. Maybe Apple's saving that for a future iPad Pro, or some sort of all-new iOS laptop.

A cheaper MacBook Air: Reports say that the MacBook Air will be refreshed -- and/or get a price cut. If so, it looks like we'll need to wait until later this year. Back-to-school sales, notably, start in July. That would make a late spring debut perfect timing. (See below.)

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Price and availability for the AirPower charging pad: Apple teased its own contactless AirPower charging pad way back in September 2017, when it unveiled the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The AirPower will charge those phones, the Apple Watch and an updated version of the AirPods headphones. But despite a touted "2018" release window, we still haven't got an official price or release date from Apple.

The iPhone SE 2: Apple's entry-level iPhone was released at a March event almost exactly two years ago, refreshed with larger capacities last year -- and it got a nice price cut in September, down to $349. Whether Apple will overhaul its design (unlikely in the short term) or just refresh its CPU and camera specs (much more likely) is unclear. But we didn't see that fabled iPhone SE 2 today, in any form.

Anything new for Apple Watch, Apple TV or HomePod: The other products in Apple's lineup were absent from the stage, and didn't pop up in any subsequent press releases or stealth pricing updates. 

All in all, Apple stayed focused and on-message for what ended up being half the usual runtime of the company's signature keynotes. But fear not, Apple fans: The June 4 keynote that kicks off the company's WWDC developers' conference will be jam-packed with news on the company's myriad software ecosystems, and may even feature some new hardware, too. That's your next best chance to see iPad Pros or new Macs -- maybe. 

We'll see you there.

Hands-on with the new iPad: Pencil support and more: Here's what it's like to use Apple's new 2018 iPad.

Everything Apple just announced in Chicago: A full rundown of the March 27 event.