Apple

The Weekly Round-Up: iPhone accidents, betting on Apple and IT at school

Can a robot teacher save us?

Is there anything more beautiful than a freshly polished smartphone screen?

That little black mirror that lights up at your lightest touch: a tiny, brightly-lit package of promise.

There's something about the purity of a pristine smartphone screen that makes me want to wear white gloves like a snooker referee when using it, in order to save its spotless surface from the indignity of my grubby and greasy fingerprints. That would have the advantage of keeping it looking pretty, but does have the (somewhat significant) disadvantage of making it entirely impossible to use.

Dirty fingerprints and smudges are one thing - they can always be wiped off. But far more depressing is the shattered screen. One mishap and your screen becomes a fractured nightmare, and suddenly everything from your email to Angry Birds looks like a cubist work of art, with shards of information strewn all over the display.

The Round-Up sees poor souls everywhere, peering at their smashed screens and trying to decode what is going on behind the crazed image.

And it seems that it's not just the odd unlucky soul who had damaged their beloved smartphone.

Despite the high price of smartphones, it seems that, according to a survey, we are not as careful with our gadgets as we should be.

This week comes a survey which claims as many as two in five iPhones currently in use in the UK are being used with a broken or cracked screen, although the majority are willing to put up with the damage because the handset still works fine.

The survey by myvouchercodes.co.uk, also found that one in four of these cracked or broken screens occurred in the first month of being owned. That means 23 long months of squinting at the screen for those clumsy folk.



Taking a punt on Apple

Sticking with Apple for the moment, since the iPhone 4S launch, you may have been lacking an essential ingredient of your technology diet: Apple hype. Yes, for while everyone else has been making their launches at CES (and you can check out some of the gadgets at CES here), there hasn't been a huge amount for the Apple fan(atics) to get too excited about.

Until now, that is - Apple has sent out an invite which asks journalists to join it "for an education announcement in the Big Apple".

Now, the Round-Up has done some investigative journalism here, spoken to high-level off the record sources, met deep throats in underground carparks and come to the shocking conclusion that this Apple announcement is, in reality, about... education.

Apple Robot

Will Apple's next big thing be a robot teacher?Image: Nick Heath/silicon.com

However, this hasn't stopped Apple watchers getting very excited as to whether this could actually be something else, just in case. And even bookies are getting in on the action, with Paddy Power taking bets on what the announcement will be.

It's perhaps unsurprising that the clear favourite is for the announcement to be on 'Electronic/Digital textbooks' at 1/6 followed by the 'iPad Lite' at 6/1 and the 'iPad 3' at 9/1.

Further down the list it's 14/1 that Apple's CEO Tim Cook will taking the wraps off a new iMac desktop, while an announcement on the iPhone 5 and an 'Apple Robot Teacher' prop up the market at 20/1 and 40/1 respectively.

Since the starting odds were set, it seems that only one option has budged - as the Round-Up was written, odds on the announcement being an Apple TV set had dropped from 16/1 to 8/1.

Now the Round-Up has always felt TV to be educational (and nutritious), but still finds it hard to believe that's what Apple will be unveiling later this month.

Still, if none of this grabs your fancy you can bet on the number of iPads launched this year, with 'none' at 16/1, 'one' at 10/11 and 'two' at 4/5.



Back to school

When the Round-Up was at school, IT lessons where held in the rather grandly named Business Technology Centre, which featured, among other things, a number of Amstrad PCW 8512s, and access to Prestel. Sadly, it seems that teaching IT in schools hasn't really progressed a whole lot since then. Which is fine of course, as technology is hardly part of our daily lives, or anything.

Still, it seems that the government has finally woken up to the idea that teaching of IT in schools is not very good, and decided to scrap the curriculum. So for the next couple of years while everyone figures out how to teach IT better, schools will be free to teach IT as they see fit. As silicon.com's Nick Heath points out this may not be the best way to raise standards, especially as most schools have been struggling to teach IT well until now. Or, as he puts it: "Given that a sizeable number of schools are already struggling to teach a basic IT curriculum, one focused mainly on office skills, how are they expected to devise, implement and teach a new curriculum that will cover the likes of systemic thinking, software development and logic?"

Getting IT taught well in schools is of course vital, but perhaps we should take a look at how it was taught at the dawn of home computing, and see if that can help us out. Indeed, as one reader comment suggests, is it time to dust off the beloved BBC Micro again?

Then again, if that 40/1 long shot comes in and Apple is unveiling a Robot Teacher, perhaps all our problems are solved...

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