Apple Higher Education Wish List for 2022
I did an article about hopes for consumer services for 2022 so I figured that I would do one for education. I’ll be writing this from a higher education perspective since that’s where I work and is foremost in my mind. Here are some things I’d love from an IT, faculty, and student perspective.
Apple Education Essentials: Mobile device management is so hot right now. It really took off for us in 2020 having to pivot everyone to remote work + learning and is here to stay. We use JAMF, but that was a lot of work to get set up and a lot more work to get it into shape for what we want to do. It’s a big lift migrating current processes into a MDM world, but totally worth the work. For me, the biggest thing beyond simply being able to deploy apps to devices is the user management and device backup. We have gotten to the point we no longer buy desktops for employees unless there is an overwhelming reason to do so so fundamentally everything is a mobile device now with laptops being the default device and iPads becoming increasingly popular. I think that Apple Education Essentials would be a great way to super charge education IT and the integration with Apple Care is also a very appealing feature. They would need to push up the user limit of course because 500 students/faculty/staff in the grand scheme of things is pretty limiting, but I love the idea, especially if there was an off boarding way to get people into other MDM solutions like Jamf, Intune, or Mobile Iron.
eTextbooks: This one is the dream. Apple released iBooks Author a few years ago, but it unfortunately never went anywhere. Digital textbook companies ended up doing their own things because they needed books to work on more than just Apple devices. I think in the spirit of Apple Music, iBooks should go cross — platform and make itself available on Windows, Android, and Kindle Fire devices. There are rumors of an Apple Books+ service coming later this year that I really hope is true that provides audiobooks or ebooks at a discount or library access and if that’s true that would be even more of a reason for the iBooks app to be available across multiple platforms. I also believe that iBooks needs an AppleTV app for classrooms as well. Teachers sometime need to juggle multiple devices and being able to simply pull up a book with a remote would be useful.
Apple Paint: I propose this become a new Apple for the iWork suite. It could also be called Apple Whiteboard as well, but I think Paint would be a more fun name. Microsoft with Microsoft Whiteboard and Google with Google Jamfboard have acknowledge the need for a digital whiteboard application in their office suites. There are several 3rd party solutions that already work, but I think Apple could bring some polish to this category by implementing the excellent Apple Notes drawing engine in a real-time collaboration and creation environment. You could have real-time Apple Paint collaboration and even throw in some SharePlay integration to make it extra fun. There could be apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and AppleTV that emphasize creation, collaboration, and fun. They could even include a sticker store as a way to make things more fun for students that they could use themselves or even encourage a creator economy by letting people publish and sell their own stickers. In the same vein as Playground being able to publish iOS apps, Apple Paint could be a creation and publishing platform.
Apple Watch: I see Apple Watch as the modern iPod, the fitness and style device for modern students. I think Apple should market it as a student’s digital assistant and health couch to get them through the day (Or night in some student’s cases haha). I think there should be a Apple Fitness+ student discount to $5/month to encourage students to start developing healthy exercise and other habits. I think that time to walk with more celebrities or influencers for college students could be a fun way to introduce a lot of student to some of the more advanced health capabilities of the Apple Watch. I think the Mindfulness app is another gem on the Apple Watch that I wish could detect anxiety and stress. Growing up as the first member of my family to go to college, I let a lot of personal and financial stress affect my studies and health. Oftentimes all I needed was a little prod to walk away from a task for a few minutes and come back to it with a fresh perspective. I think the emergency calling is another feature that Apple should start to include in every Apple Watch if they want it to be a more standalone device. I think that would sell a LOT of watches if parents knew that every Apple Watch had an emergency dialing functionality. We just started to deploy the Student ID cards at my University and I think that’s a great thing for students, especially with how many times I locked myself out of my dorm room. I think that Apple should push harder for Apple Carkey to be implemented in all levels of cars as well, especially cheaper sedans and suvs that students drive. That’s a long-term transformation, but having a backup key for your home, gym, and car is a great thing for safety and convenience. I think for students in particular an Apple BikeKey would be pretty cool as something that could be built into bicycles, ebikes, scooters, skateboard, and bike locks. I work on a walking campus and alternative modes of transportation are super popular here. I honestly think building in Carkey into non-car modes of transportation would be really useful to a lot of people. I wish that Siri Watch face would get some more love in the next version of WatchOS. I think it’s a great resource and goes a long way towards selling the Apple Watch as a digital assistant. I think Apple would allow for the creation of more interactive cards for developers and also build in stuff like water tracking or food tracking with an eye towards being more private. I always feel a little weird giving some random app data on what’s going into my body and them possibly selling it to other companies.
Apple Wallet for Students: I don’t think its a good image for Apple to get into student credit card debt, but what they could do is continue to build out their nice finance tracking tools built into Apple Wallet and allow third party debit and credit cards to use the same tools. That way students could start to build healthy financial habits with their current debit cards and then when students gradate Apple could maybe offer them a starter Apple Card after they get their first jobs.
Windows on M1 Macs: For a lot of consumers and professionals this has been less of an issue, but in higher education we’ve been having issues with M1 Macs not being able to Boot Camp or Virtualize Windows. Simply put, higher education runs behind industry trends by a couple of years sometimes and depending on a student’s major their software needs can be very different. If a student starts off in a liberal art or design major, a Mac may be fine, but if they move to engineering or building science, suddenly running Windows applications may be a must for their classes. In an enterprise or small business, work would provide a computer, but students are pretty much stuck with the Macs they buy for college for 4–5 years. We have been standing up Azure Virtual desktops in place of physical computer labs because of COVID, right now at least there is still a strong need for students to have access to Windows 11 on their Macs.
AppleTV: AppleTV has made its way into the classroom in the form of 3rd party digital signage and Airplay, but I do wish that Apple would create more applications and functionality around making them the hub for connecting iPads and Macs in a classroom environment. At $140, an AppleTV in every classroom is expensive, but could be a useful investment if it did double-duty as digital signage or e-textbook hub. The AppleTV posses a much more capable processor than the average Windows PC at that price and with MDM is so much easier to manage. It would be nice to have first party digital signage features and broadcasting audio or video for announcements like morning or afternoon announcements. Being able to centrally control and distribute content like images, announcements, and videos to a fleet of classroom AppleTVs in classrooms or around a campus would make them an absolute no-brainer for many institutions. The ease-of-use and management savings alone would be a significant advantage over other solutions and that’s ignoring the fact that the AppleTV hardware runs circles around other solutions power wise.
iPad -> Mac Training: This is one thing I’ve seen more and more of in higher education is student who had iPads in high school get their first Mac for college and do not know how to do stuff like manage files in Finder, install printers, use removal storage, connect external devices, etc. I have friends who go through this at the high school level as well. I think a “graduating to the Mac” material or online tips/tricks may be a good thing to send students when they buy their first Mac if they’ve indicated that they had an iPhone or iPad. Things are often close, but can be pretty different. My youngest sister did struggle a little bit with the transition her a couple of years ago when she did most of her computing work on an iPad in high school and bought a Mac for college.
Apple Fitness+ for Students: A big selling point of the Apple Watch is the health and fitness features. I hear it all the time from my youngest sister that she wishes there was a discounted Apple Fitness+ for students because she loves the ideas of all the different workout videos with the Apple Watch integration. I think the average student could use the service to workout from home or take their iPhones with them into the campus gym and get more out of their workouts. Building good habits early in life is a good thing and I think this would encourage students to start building out a workout routine and possibly even try new things. Apple Fitness+ is one of my favorite Apple One services because all you really need is an Apple Watch and a screen so any non-smart gym equipment will do.
MacBook: Everyone loves the MacBook Air, but my first Mac was the 2008 white MacBook. There are rumors that the MacBook Air is going to get a redesign this year and introduce iMac-like color options. I really do hope this true and would love for them to revive the “Macbook” name and retire the Air moniker. I think from a new student perspective having the “Macbook” and “Macbook Pro” makes a lot more logical sense in the lineup than Air and Pro. I do really hope we get colors because they’re fun and let people express themselves even more.
There are probably a lot more ideas that I could think about given some time, but these are the things that have been on my mind this week. With the Apple Watch, Mac, AppleTV, and iPad I feel like Apple has so many ways to keep serving their customers in education these days that there are so many untapped things they could be doing. I’m looking forward to seeing where we go from here as platforms like the iPad and Mac continue to evolve. I’m really a big fan of both of them and their own unique strengths and value they bring to people’s lives.