Global media company News Corp is entering the education market with the release this autumn of its Amplify tablet, aimed at taking on the iPad in schools.
It will launched under News Corp's Amplify education division and will also offer schools the option of subscribing to a $99 (£66) a year Amplify curriculum that will integrate with the new tablet, along with others already on the market.
The Amplify tablet, manufactured by Asus, will feature a 10-inch touchscreen and software aimed at education. According to the New York Times, it will be able to detect if a pupil's attention begins to wander and will direct it back to the teacher.
The tablet will launch first in school districts in the US. A preloaded tablet will start at $299, and a higher-end Amplify Tablet Plus, for students without wireless access at home, will feature a 4G data plan and cost $349. There will also be educational text books, apps and games available to students.
News Corp is a company that used to rely on Apple quite a lot. It launched an iPad-only publication, The Daily, which failed and was closed last December after less than two years. Amplify will be News Corp's first venture into the education market and will pass on Apple's help in hardware and software.
The Amplify is based on the Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL, which packs a 10-inch display, an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, and 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with back-illuminated CMOS sensor - all while running Android Jelly Bean, with a custom UX on-top.
A tablet aimed at schools is an interesting approach into a market dominated by Apple. Last week, Apple announced that content for its free educational platform iTunes U reached one billion downloads. The company further said that 1,200 universities and colleges, and 1,200 primary and secondary schools were using the platform.
One problem for the iPad (and Android tablets) in schools is that they have the potential to distract students. Given the access to the App Store and web the tablets provide, students can easily stray away from the lesson at hand. The Amplify has education-specific features that may cut down on such distraction.
There are time-saving elements of the Amplify for task such as taking attendance numbers, with a teacher being able to push a notebook to students, and know by who does or doesn't join the notebook which of them is absent from class. The teacher will be able to see what pupils are doing on the tablet, which will also offer easier lesson planning.
It will be interesting to see how school districts adapt the technology when it's introduced later this year.