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Google’s new text-to-speech service has more realistic voices

Google will now let developers use the text-to-speech synthesis that powers the voices in Google Assistant and Maps. Cloud Text-to-Speech is available now through the Google Cloud Platform and the company says it can be used to power voice response systems in call centers, enable IoT device speech and convert media like news articles and books into a spoken format. There are 32 different voice options in 12 languages and users can customize pitch, speaking rate and volume gain.

Additionally, a selection of the available voices were built with Google’s WaveNet model. It was developed by Google’s DeepMind team and the company first announced it in 2016. Rather than using fragments of speech and stringing them together to make words — which often sounds very robotic — WaveNet forms individual sound waves, creating more natural sounding speech. Google has since improved WaveNet, making it 1,000 times faster and able to generate more high quality audio. In tests, listeners said WaveNet voices were 20 percent better than other generated voices and their scores suggested that WaveNet reduces the quality gap between generated speech and human speech by about 70 percent.

Those who want to try out the voices can do so here. Pricing is available here.

Via: ZDNet

Source: Google


The new iPad vs. the competition: Teaching tools

Thanks to its generous discount program Apple was the king of the education market for decades. Some schools even straight up gave their students iPads. However, many institutions are increasingly adopting Chromebooks as their system of choice, which offer up kid-friendly features at a much lower price. Last year gave us the first budget iPad, and today Apple gave it a slight update and unveiled a host of education-focused features. But even Pencil support and a ton more iCloud storage might not win over educators in right away, especially with products like Acer’s Chromebook Tab 10 on the horizon. We’ve stacked up the new iPad versus the Tab 10 as well another budget tablet, the Fire HD 10.

iPad (2018)
Acer Chromebook Tab 10
Amazon Fire HD 10

$299 for schools / $329 retail
$150, $190

240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm (9.4 x 6.6 x 0.29 inches)
238.2 x 172.2 x 9.98mm (9.38 x 6.78 x 0.39 inches)
262 x 159 x 9.8mm (10.3 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches)

469g (1.03 pounds)
550g (1.21 pounds)
500g (1.11 pounds)

iOS 11
Chrome OS
Fire OS 5.6

9.7-inch Retina display
9.7-inch IPS LCD
10.1-inch IPS LCD

2,048 x 1,536 (264 ppi)
2,048 x 1,536 (264ppi)
1,920 x 1,200 (224ppi)

Aspect ratio

Apple A10
OP1 (Rockchip RK3399)
MediaTek MT8173, quad-core 1.8 GHz + 1.4 GHz


32 / 128GB

USB Type-C 3.1, microSD
USB Type-B 2.0 , microSD

Front camera
1.2MP, f/2.2, 720p video

Rear camera
8MP, f/2.4, 1080p video at 30fps

Cellular radio

Dual band 802.11ac
Dual-band, 802.11ac
Dual-band, 802.11ac


up to 10 hours
34Wh, up to 9 hours
up to 10 hours

Catch up on all of the news from Apple’s education event right here!


Turner’s live sports streaming service launches in April

Turner’s long-in-the-making live sports service is here… almost. The broadcaster has announced that its Bleacher Report Live service will debut in April in a free preview mode, with “flexible” pricing when you have to start paying in the summer. It’ll present live sports in a Facebook-style home feed, with personalization that aggregates content based on your tastes. The sports selection won’t suit everyone’s tastes (you may want to consider ESPN+), but there are some reasons you’d want to consider BR Live over other options.

For one, you can use it to watch NBA League Pass games, including the recently added option to watch in-progress games at a lower price. You can also expect to watch UEFA Champions League and Europa League soccer (aka football) matches, a total of 65 NCAA championships, the PGA Championship and more niche sports like the Red Bull Global Rallycross and National Lacrosse League. You won’t be watching NFL, MLB or NHL games in the near future, then.

The service will initially be available on Android, iOS and the web. You’ll have to use AirPlay or Google Cast to watch on the big screen, unfortunately. That may make it a tough sell if you intend to use this as an alternative to a TV subscription, but Turner is no doubt betting there are many viewers who are more interested in watching away from home than a traditional living room experience.

Source: Turner


Apple Announces ‘Classroom’ Coming to Mac, Reveals New ‘Schoolwork’ App for Educators

Apple during its education-focused event in Chicago today announced that its existing iOS “Classroom” app will be making the move to Mac, beginning with a beta this June.

Classroom is a “teaching assistant” that helps teachers manage their students’ iPads, as well as guide kids through lessons, keep them on track, and share their work. Using the app, teachers can launch apps, books, and websites on all student devices simultaneously, and send or receive documents. Classroom also allows teachers to view their students’ screens so that they “stay focused,” and other administrative options like password resets.

At the same time, the company revealed a new cloud-based app called “Schoolwork” that lets teachers assign handouts and track the progress of their students. Apple said that Schoolwork “builds on the success” of the Classroom app and both apps will be combined to help educators “get the most out of integrating Apple technology into schools.”

“Creativity sparks a deeper level of engagement in students, and we’re excited to help teachers bring out that creativity in the classroom,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

“When you combine the power of iPad, the creativity of Apple Pencil, over a million iPad apps in the App Store, the rich curriculum in Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create, and unique Classroom and Schoolwork apps that support students and help schools manage technology in the classroom, we believe we can amplify learning and creativity in a way that only Apple can.”

Using Schoolwork, teachers will be able to make handouts that include PDFs, links, and other documents, as well as check in on the progress of every student for a specific assignment. Schoolwork will integrate with third-party apps using Apple’s ClassKit API, acting as a hub of sorts for a classroom’s projects and assignments. Schoolwork will be available for teachers in June.

There will also be a new “Apple Teacher” professional learning program available online, aimed at helping teachers build skills, chart their progress, and get inspired to launch new lesson plans. The program will allow teachers to earn badges shaped like gold stars, encouraging them to continue using the program and evolve their classroom.

Related Roundup: iPadTags: March 2018 event, Classroom, Schoolwork, ClassKitBuyer’s Guide: iPad (Buy Now)
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Apple Launches New 9.7-Inch iPad With Apple Pencil Support, $299 for Schools and $329 for Consumers

Apple today announced an all-new 9.7-inch iPad, describing the tablet as its “most affordable iPad” yet and confirming it will work with the Apple Pencil. Apple said that the device was designed for powerful AR apps.

The tablet has a 9.7-inch Retina display that features a higher-resolution touch sensor to enable support for Apple Pencil, previously only compatible with iPad Pro. Apple Pencil provides a “fluid and natural” drawing experience with sensors that measure pressure and tilt so that users can take notes or illustrate in various apps.

The new iPad has an A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, providing 40 percent faster CPU and 50 percent faster graphics performance when compared to the previous generation 9.7-inch iPad. Apple said that both front and rear cameras provide HD video recording for everything from document scanning to FaceTime calls.

One of the main applications aimed at the new iPad is augmented reality, fueled by the device’s Retina display, powerful chip, enhanced cameras, and advanced sensors with a gyroscope and accelerometer. The tablet was built for mobility and durability for students, sporting an aluminum unibody construction.

The 32GB iPad with Wi-Fi is priced at $329 in the U.S. and $459 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and Apple Pencil can be purchased separately for $99. Schools will be able to buy iPad for $299 and Apple Pencil for $89. The new iPad is available to order beginning today and will arrive in stores later this week in more than 25 countries, listed below:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the US. India, Russia, Thailand, and Turkey. More countries and regions will follow in April, with South Korea and others coming in May.

Related Roundup: iPadTag: March 2018 eventBuyer’s Guide: iPad (Buy Now)
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Apple Updating iWork for iOS: Pages, Numbers and Keynote Get Book Creation and Apple Pencil Support on 9.7-Inch iPad

Apple today announced it is working on a new version of its iWork productivity suite for iOS during its “Let’s Take a Field Trip” event at Chicago’s Lane Technical High School, where it also introduced a refreshed low-cost 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support.

Integrated Apple Pencil support in the new upcoming versions of Pages and Keynote will enable users to add drawings directly to reports and take advantage of smart annotation features, while students in particular will benefit from using the input device in Numbers to add to their “lab reports”, said Apple.

Teachers on the other hand will be able to mark up students’ Pages reports directly using an iPad and Apple Pencil, thanks to the suite’s enhanced markup functions. When users annotate, for example, the markup anchors to the word or image. So as edits are made, the pencil annotations move.

“iWork is a powerful suite of apps designed for iPhone, iPad and Mac that is used in classrooms around the world,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Apps Product Marketing. “With Apple Pencil support on iPad, the new Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps now let students bring a whole new level of creativity to their documents, spreadsheets and presentations, while the innovative new Smart Annotation feature gives students the ability to give, receive and incorporate feedback easier than ever before. Students can also use the built-in, real-time collaboration tools available in iWork to explore and learn together.”

Apple also announced that it is building digital book creation into the new version of Pages, which will come pre-installed on the new $329 9.7-inch iPad. Books generated within Pages can include photos, videos, Apple Pencil illustrations, and more.

Pages, Numbers, and Keynote on iOS and Mac are free and come preloaded onto most devices, including the new 9.7-inch iPad. Today’s updates will be available to download “soon” on the App Store and Mac App Store.

Tags: iWork, March 2018 event
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Apple and Logitech Announce $99 Rugged Combo iPad Keyboard Case and $49 Crayon Stylus

Apple and Logitech today announced Crayon, a more affordable stylus for the iPad, at its education-themed event in Chicago. The device will cost $49, roughly half the price of the Apple Pencil.

As well as the Crayon, Apple revealed that Logitech are offering a new $99 Rugged Combo iPad case with an integrated keyboard and a slot for a stylus. A release date is currently unavailable for the accessories, but we’ll be sure to let you know when we hear.

The Logitech accessories are undoubtedly designed to be twinned with Apple’s new low-cost 9.7-inch iPad, which was also announced today at the company’s student- and teacher- focused event in Chicago.

Tags: Apple Pencil, March 2018 event
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Apple Increases Free iCloud Storage for Students to 200GB

As part of its new suite of educational apps and experiences for children, Apple today announced that it is increasing the amount of free iCloud storage available to kids and teachers.

Instead of providing each student and teacher with the standard 5GB of free storage, Apple is now offering 200GB of storage at no additional cost.

Every student that has an Apple ID managed by a school will have access to 200GB of storage space for storing assignments, resources, and other documents in the cloud. The new storage space goes hand-in-hand with ClassKit and the Classwork app, which stores assignments in the cloud so students and teachers can access them anywhere.

This is not a program that’s available to any student — it is limited to students who have Apple IDs that were provided by their school.

Regular students and standard users of Apple devices will continue to be limited to 5GB of free storage space.

Tag: iCloud
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Apple Announces Free ‘Everyone Can Create’ Curriculum for Teachers

Apple announced Everyone Can Create, a new free curriculum for teachers, during its “Let’s Take a Field Trip” event at Chicago’s Lane Technical High School today.

Everyone Can Create makes it fun and easy for teachers to integrate drawing, music, filmmaking or photography into their existing lesson plans for any subject. The new curriculum joins Apple’s successful Everyone Can Code initiative as one-of-a-kind programs for teachers that keep students excited and engaged.

Apple says the new curriculum is designed to take advantage of the new 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support, which was also unveiled on Tuesday, costing $299 for schools. The curriculum includes a range of free learning resources and teaching guides to help teachers include drawing, music, filmmaking or photography into lessons, topics, and assignments.

It also features teacher and student guides, lessons, ideas and examples to aid teachers in bringing more creativity and new communication skills into existing subjects like English, math, science and history, according to Apple. For instance, students can use the iPad’s built-in camera to learn about fractals, or use Apple Pencil and apps like Tayasui Sketches to learn about symmetry.

The curriculum feeds into Apple’s other software announcements at Tuesday’s event, including the new Schoolwork app that helps teachers create assignments and keep on top of student progress, and a new teaching assistant Mac application called Classroom, which helps teachers manage student iPads while guiding students through lessons.

Apple will begin teaching the Everyone Can Create curriculum as part of its regular Today at Apple sessions for educators.

Tag: March 2018 event
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Apple Now Selling Standalone Space Gray Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2

Starting today, Apple is selling the Magic Keyboard With Numeric Keyboard in Space Gray on a standalone basis, allowing customers who don’t own an iMac Pro to purchase the accessory for $149.

The Space Gray Magic Keyboard was introduced alongside the iMac Pro and was previously only sold alongside that machine.

Apple is also selling a Space Gray version of the Magic Trackpad 2 for $149 and a Space Gray Magic Mouse 2 for $99, which means that all of the exclusive accessories sold with the iMac Pro are now available to all customers.

While iMac Pro owners still get a main machine that’s available in an exclusive Space Gray color, the accessories, which had been selling on eBay for quite a bit of money, are no longer exclusives.

Orders placed today for the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 will ship out and deliver later this week.
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