According to an insider report on October 8, 2013, Slashgear has announced that Apple is going to announce the release of a new version of the iPad, named the iPad 5. It is well known that Apple is very tight lipped about new product introductions, so the features of the new iPad5 are kept under tight wraps. The only information is based on alleged insider reports and market speculation. However, as in the past, the early reports are usually mostly accurate.
The iPad 5 is expected to be an evolutionary step rather than something revolutionary. When the first iPad was introduced several years ago, it was a truly revolutionary product that captured the market and spawned many competing tablets. The subsequent releases of the iPad have added features mostly around cosmetics and form factor. The iPad 5 will likely be another refresh with features such as a lighter and thinner form factor, a more powerful processor, and biometric fingerprint recognition. The iPad Mini will also reportedly receive a more powerful processor and a high-definition Retina display as well as the biometric fingerprint recognition.
A thinner profile is nice. A more powerful processor is nice. Fingerprint recognition is nice. Given the new price points are unknown, paying the same or more for these features might not make much sense for many school environments. There has been no speculation about any changes to the operating system that would enable multitasking, or any other new functionality. The bottom line is that the device will continue to do basically the same things the older models can. Touch recognition adds no significant functional value above convenience.
If the early reports are correct, this new release provides little other than the cool factor. If schools and students desire the iPad, hopefully the iPad 5 release has a corresponding downward price effect on older models. For most all learning tasks, the current version of the iPad, and those that are even older remain well suited to the needs of students. It is doubtful that there is any compelling reason to spend additional money on the latest and greatest when the older models remain highly useable.
The only way to know if the iPad 5 offers any increased value in education environments is to wait until October 22 and see what Apple officially announces.