New iPad 2018: release date, news and leaks

We're just days away from the first big Apple launch of 2018, and word on the web is that it's going to be another new iPad.

But this one is going to be different to the iPads from before, in that it's going to be even cheaper and – if you read into the most recent Apple invite – it's not going to be aimed at consumers.

That's right, there's an outside chance you won't even be able to buy this iPad, although it's probably going to be available for sale in certain locations and could just be the new budget way to get into Apple's tablet ecosystem.

But before we go too far into that – and give away one of the most surprising features of this new device – let's break it down bit-by-bit so you can get a proper taste of what we expect from Apple on March 27.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A new, low-cost iPad for schools and business
  • When is it out? Likely April 2018
  • What will it cost? Probably at least $259 / £249 / AU$350

New iPad 2018 release date and price

The invite above, for an event in Chicago on March 27, drops a lot of hints about when we can expect from the event.

The main thing is the actual location: a fancy high school in Chicago, and a note saying that we're going to see new creative ideas for teachers and students.

There's not mention of new hardware – come on, this is an Apple invite, after all – but the invitation has clearly been written in the style of Apple's Pencil swipes and swooshes, so it's pretty clear there's a new iPad approaching.

That date means we'll be getting the new iPad somewhen in April if the usual 10-day-to-two-weeks model is followed, with pre-orders beginning somewhen in between that… if indeed you can buy this from retail stores, as the new iPad 2018 might be for education only.

In terms of price, we're hearing rumors that it could be pretty cheap, with the cost all the way down to US$259 (converted to £190 or AU$340, but more likely £249 / AU350 based on the way Apple's been pricing things).

The current model starts at US$329, so that's a drop of more than 20 percent.

The Apple Pencil

Here's the interesting thing – we've been hearing that Apple is gearing up to increase the volume of its Apple Pencil production, almost doubling it up to 10 million units… so it's going to need to put them somewhere.

Where better than alongside a new iPad that's going to be used by more and more schools (if Apple actually makes this move a success)?

That theory looks more robust as it seems the new iPad 2018 will indeed support the Apple Pencil, giving it more scope to be used beyond the iPad Pro range.

There are rumors that the Apple Pencil support will even extend to future iPhones, but that's not on the cards for now (and we're not sure it's part of the vision Steve Jobs had for the iPhone…)

New iPad 2018 screen

Details are starting to get a little thinner here, but given the new iPad 2018 is supposed to be a little cheaper, we can extrapolate some ideas.

Firstly, there's going to have to be a digitiser layer underneath the glass that can read the Apple Pencil – that's not going to make a difference to the look of the iPad, but it's another layer and does add to the cost.

That means we probably won't see any of the True Tone display technology that's been coming to the iPad Pro range, where the sensors match the white balance of the screen with the surrounding light.

Resolution on the likely LCD screen will probably match that of the entry level iPad from last year at 1536×2048, and we'd anticipate it won't be the highest-quality color reproduction Apple has ever offered in an iPad as the focus will be slightly more on function.

But the screen will still be in the standard 4:3 ratio and offer Apple's staple 9.7-inch display size, with larger bezels all around if everything appears as expected.


Again, we've had no leaks about the design of the new iPad, but given the way Apple is adept at repurposing older designs for cheaper models (think the iPhone SE and iPhone 5C) it's fairly easy to see that the model we are likely to see on March 27 is going to be something quite familiar.

In fact, we're willing to bet that the event will be more about what you can do with the device than the specs on board, so expect something that looks almost identical to the iPad 2017, so a metal back and rounded corners.

The thickness of the iPad from 2017 was something we weren't super impressed by, but we expect that to continue – and don't expect there to be masses of storage in there, as the cloud is more likely to be a destination for all the content on these devices.

We'd expect Apple to unveil more iCloud storage for students – so if this does also get sold as a retail unit, it'll be a pretty basic one, in the same way we see Chromebooks these days.

New iPad 2018 power and OS

The operating system is the easy one here – it'll be iOS 11.3, as Apple always uses an event to debut some new feature of what its devices can do.

There's word that the new software contains something called ClassKit, which doesn't need a lot of analysis given we're expecting these iPads to be used for students and they'll need new software.

The question is which processor Apple will chuck in the new – it could well still with the A9 chipset that powered the iPad last year.

That would leave it quite underpowered (although would help with the cost reduction) and we can see Apple making a huge deal about the new things you can do to learn with these iPads – including 3D rendering of items for more interactive education.

We're going to guess at the A10 chip from last year being used, but don't be surprised if the teardown reveals a poorer engine and less RAM than we're used to.

What else should I know?

Well, the first thing you should know is that TechRadar is going to be liveblogging this event for you as there's no stream to watch it from… so you're going to want to check back on the site on Tuesday March 27, when the event will be covered in depth from when it kicks off at 8AM PT, 11AM ET and 4PM GMT.

Beyond that, the main difference on this iPad is its use in the classroom, so there could well be an appearance from the Smart Connector for low-power accessories, turning the tablet into a word processor with a snap on keyboard.

There could also be new options on show, which would please iPad Pro users, but again this would add cost to a device Apple will be looking to lower the price of.

So, make sure you keep it locked to TechRadar to get all you need about the new iPad 2018 – we'll be doing our utmost to be among the very first on the web to bring you information on the new tablet, so you can decide whether it's your next purchase (if you can, that is).

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Monarch is a new platform from surgical robot pioneer Frederic Moll

Auris Health (née Auris Surgical Robots) has done a pretty good job flying under the radar, in spite of raising a massive amount of capital and listing one of the key people behind the da Vinci surgical robot among its founders. With FDA clearance finally out of the way, however, the Redwood City-based startup medical startup is ready to start talking.

This week, Auris revealed the Monarch Platform, which swaps the da Vinci’s surgical approach for something far less invasive. The system utilizes the common endoscopy procedure to a insert a flexible robot into hard to reach places inside the human body. A doctor trained on the system uses a video game-style controller to navigate inside, with help from 3D models.

Monarch’s first target is lung cancer, the which tops the list of deadliest cancers. More deaths could be stopped, if doctors were able to catch the disease in its early stages, but the lung’s complex structures, combined with current techniques, make the process difficult. According to the company,  “More than 90-percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive, in part because it is often found at an advanced stage.”

“A CT scan shows a mass or a lesion,” CEO Frederic Moll tells TechCrunch. “It doesn’t tell you what it is. Then you have to get a piece of lung, and if it’s a small lesion. It isn’t that easy — it can be quite a traumatic procedure. So you’d like to do it a very systematic and minimally invasive fashion. Currently it’s difficult with manual techniques and 40-percent of the time, there is no diagnosis. This is has been a problem for many years and [inhibits] the ability of a clinician to diagnose and treat early-stage cancer.

Auris was founded half a dozen years ago, in which time the company has managed to raise a jaw-dropping $500 million, courtesy of Mithril Capital Management, Lux Capital, Coatue Management and Highland Capital. The company says the large VC raise and long runway were necessary factors in building its robust platform.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have an investor base that is supportive of our vision and committed to us for the long-term,” CSO Josh DeFonzo tells TechCrunch. “The investments that have been made in Auris are to support both the development of a very robust product pipeline, as well as successful clinical adoption of our technology to improve patient outcomes.”

With that funding and FDA approval for Monarch out of the way, the company has an aggressive timeline. Moll says Auris is hoping to bring the system to hospitals and outpatient centers by the end of the year. And once it’s out in the wild, Monarch’s disease detecting capabilities will eventually extend beyond lung cancer.

“We have developed what we call a platform technology,” says Moll. “Bronchoscopy is the first application, but this platform will do other robotic endoscopies.”

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Facebook was warned about app permissions in 2011

Who’s to blame for the leaking of 50 million Facebook users’ data? Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke several days of silence in the face of a raging privacy storm to go on CNN this week to say he was sorry. He also admitted the company had made mistakes; said it had breached the trust of users; and said he regretted not telling Facebookers at the time their information had been misappropriated.

Meanwhile, shares in the company have been taking a battering. And Facebook is now facing multiple shareholder and user lawsuits.

Pressed on why he didn’t inform users, in 2015, when Facebook says it found out about this policy breach, Zuckerberg avoided a direct answer — instead fixing on what the company did (asked Cambridge Analytica and the developer whose app was used to suck out data to delete the data) — rather than explaining the thinking behind the thing it did not do (tell affected Facebook users their personal information had been misappropriated).

Essentially Facebook’s line is that it believed the data had been deleted — and presumably, therefore, it calculated (wrongly) that it didn’t need to inform users because it had made the leak problem go away via its own backchannels.

Except of course it hadn’t. Because people who want to do nefarious things with data rarely play exactly by your rules just because you ask them to.

There’s an interesting parallel here with Uber’s response to a 2016 data breach of its systems. In that case, instead of informing the ~57M affected users and drivers that their personal data had been compromised, Uber’s senior management also decided to try and make the problem go away — by asking (and in their case paying) hackers to delete the data.

Aka the trigger response for both tech companies to massive data protection fuck-ups was: Cover up; don’t disclose.

Facebook denies the Cambridge Analytica instance is a data breach — because, well, its systems were so laxly designed as to actively encourage vast amounts of data to be sucked out, via API, without the check and balance of those third parties having to gain individual level consent.

So in that sense Facebook is entirely right; technically what Cambridge Analytica did wasn’t a breach at all. It was a feature, not a bug.

Clearly that’s also the opposite of reassuring.

Yet Facebook and Uber are companies whose businesses rely entirely on users trusting them to safeguard personal data. The disconnect here is gapingly obvious.

What’s also crystal clear is that rules and systems designed to protect and control personal data, combined with active enforcement of those rules and robust security to safeguard systems, are absolutely essential to prevent people’s information being misused at scale in today’s hyperconnected era.

But before you say hindsight is 20/20 vision, the history of this epic Facebook privacy fail is even longer than the under-disclosed events of 2015 suggest — i.e. when Facebook claims it found out about the breach as a result of investigations by journalists.

What the company very clearly turned a blind eye to is the risk posed by its own system of loose app permissions that in turn enabled developers to suck out vast amounts of data without having to worry about pesky user consent. And, ultimately, for Cambridge Analytica to get its hands on the profiles of ~50M US Facebookers for dark ad political targeting purposes.

European privacy campaigner and lawyer Max Schrems — a long time critic of Facebook — was actually raising concerns about the Facebook’s lax attitude to data protection and app permissions as long ago as 2011.

Indeed, in August 2011 Schrems filed a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commission exactly flagging the app permissions data sinkhole (Ireland being the focal point for the complaint because that’s where Facebook’s European HQ is based).

“[T]his means that not the data subject but “friends” of the data subject are consenting to the use of personal data,” wrote Schrems in the 2011 complaint, fleshing out consent concerns with Facebook’s friends’ data API. “Since an average facebook user has 130 friends, it is very likely that only one of the user’s friends is installing some kind of spam or phishing application and is consenting to the use of all data of the data subject. There are many applications that do not need to access the users’ friends personal data (e.g. games, quizzes, apps that only post things on the user’s page) but Facebook Ireland does not offer a more limited level of access than “all the basic information of all friends”.

“The data subject is not given an unambiguous consent to the processing of personal data by applications (no opt-in). Even if a data subject is aware of this entire process, the data subject cannot foresee which application of which developer will be using which personal data in the future. Any form of consent can therefore never be specific,” he added.

As a result of Schrems’ complaint, the Irish DPC audited and re-audited Facebook’s systems in 2011 and 2012. The result of those data audits included a recommendation that Facebook tighten app permissions on its platform, according to a spokesman for the Irish DPC, who we spoke to this week.

The spokesman said the DPC’s recommendation formed the basis of the major platform change Facebook announced in 2014 — aka shutting down the Friends data API — albeit too late to prevent Cambridge Analytica from being able to harvest millions of profiles’ worth of personal data via a survey app because Facebook only made the change gradually, finally closing the door in May 2015.

“Following the re-audit… one of the recommendations we made was in the area of the ability to use friends data through social media,” the DPC spokesman told us. “And that recommendation that we made in 2012, that was implemented by Facebook in 2014 as part of a wider platform change that they made. It’s that change that they made that means that the Cambridge Analytica thing cannot happen today.

“They made the platform change in 2014, their change was for anybody new coming onto the platform from 1st May 2014 they couldn’t do this. They gave a 12 month period for existing users to migrate across to their new platform… and it was in that period that… Cambridge Analytica’s use of the information for their data emerged.

“But from 2015 — for absolutely everybody — this issue with CA cannot happen now. And that was following our recommendation that we made in 2012.”

Given his 2011 complaint about Facebook’s expansive and abusive historical app permissions, Schrems has this week raised an eyebrow and expressed surprise at Zuckerberg’s claim to be “outraged” by the Cambridge Analytica revelations — now snowballing into a massive privacy scandal.

In a statement reflecting on developments he writes: “Facebook has millions of times illegally distributed data of its users to various dodgy apps — without the consent of those affected. In 2011 we sent a legal complaint to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner on this. Facebook argued that this data transfer is perfectly legal and no changes were made. Now after the outrage surrounding Cambridge Analytica the Internet giant suddenly feels betrayed seven years later. Our records show: Facebook knew about this betrayal for years and previously argues that these practices are perfectly legal.”

So why did it take Facebook from September 2012 — when the DPC made its recommendations — until May 2014 and May 2015 to implement the changes and tighten app permissions?

The regulator’s spokesman told us it was “engaging” with Facebook over that period of time “to ensure that the change was made”. But he also said Facebook spent some time pushing back — questioning why changes to app permissions were necessary and dragging its feet on shuttering the friends’ data API.

“I think the reality is Facebook had questions as to whether they felt there was a need for them to make the changes that we were recommending,” said the spokesman. “And that was, I suppose, the level of engagement that we had with them. Because we were relatively strong that we felt yes we made the recommendation because we felt the change needed to be made. And that was the nature of the discussion. And as I say ultimately, ultimately the reality is that the change has been made. And it’s been made to an extent that such an issue couldn’t occur today.”

“That is a matter for Facebook themselves to answer as to why they took that period of time,” he added.

Of course we asked Facebook why it pushed back against the DPC’s recommendation in September 2012 — and whether it regrets not acting more swiftly to implement the changes to its APIs, given the crisis its business is now faced having breached user trust by failing to safeguard people’s data.

We also asked why Facebook users should trust Zuckerberg’s claim, also made in the CNN interview, that it’s now ‘open to being regulated’ — when its historical playbook is packed with examples of the polar opposite behavior, including ongoing attempts to circumvent existing EU privacy rules.

A Facebook spokeswoman acknowledged receipt of our questions this week — but the company has not responded to any of them.

The Irish DPC chief, Helen Dixon, also went on CNN this week to give her response to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data misuse crisis — calling for assurances from Facebook that it will properly police its own data protection policies in future.

“Even where Facebook have terms and policies in place for app developers, it doesn’t necessarily give us the assurance that those app developers are abiding by the policies Facebook have set, and that Facebook is active in terms of overseeing that there’s no leakage of personal data. And that conditions, such as the prohibition on selling on data to further third parties is being adhered to by app developers,” said Dixon.

“So I suppose what we want to see change and what we want to oversee with Facebook now and what we’re demanding answers from Facebook in relation to, is first of all what pre-clearance and what pre-authorization do they do before permitting app developers onto their platform. And secondly, once those app developers are operative and have apps collecting personal data what kind of follow up and active oversight steps does Facebook take to give us all reassurance that the type of issue that appears to have occurred in relation to Cambridge Analytica won’t happen again.”

Firefighting the raging privacy crisis, Zuckerberg has committed to conducting a historical audit of every app that had access to “a large amount” of user data around the time that Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest so much data.

So it remains to be seen what other data misuses Facebook will unearth — and have to confess to now, long after the fact.

But any other embarrassing data leaks will sit within the same unfortunate context — which is to say that Facebook could have prevented these problems if it had listened to the very valid concerns data protection experts were raising more than six years ago.

Instead, it chose to drag its feet. And the list of awkward questions for the Facebook CEO keeps getting longer.

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