A new battle kicked off today in the war between Apple and Google for device dominance in the education market, as the first-ever tablet running Google's Chrome operating system was unveiled.

The announcement about Acer's new Chromebook Tab 10, designed specifically for use in K-12 classrooms, steals some thunder from Apple before the company even had a chance to debut its new iPad for schools in Chicago today. At Apple's education event, taking place at Lane Tech College Prep High School, the company promised to reveal "creative new ideas for teachers and students."

Google's Chromebook laptops currently hold 58 percent of the K-12 mobile device market in the U.S., while Apple's iPad remains the overall global leader in tablets. After seeing iPad sales decline for a while, Apple last month reported its third consecutive quarter of revenue growth for those devices, due in part to last year's launch of its lowest-cost iPad yet, a 9.7-inch tablet priced starting at $329.

Includes Stylus, Education Apps, Support for VR

Set to become available to school and commercial customers in North America next month, Acer's new 9.7-inch Chromebook Tab 10 will start at the same price as its similarly sized iPad rival: $329. It's also the first school-focused tablet to run Google's Chrome OS instead of the Android operating system.

"Since their debut, schools have chosen Chromebooks because they are fast, easy-to-use and manage, shareable, secure and affordable," Google for Education group product manager Cyrus Mistry wrote yesterday in a blog post. "We've listened carefully to feedback from educators around the world, and one common theme is that they want all the benefits of Chromebooks in a tablet form."

Acer's Chromebook Tab 10 was designed to meet that need while providing educational users with the same ease of management available with Chromebook laptops, Mistry said. The new tablet comes with a stylus, access to a wide range of educational Android apps via the Google Play Store, and future support for augmented reality applications.

Among those applications is Google Expeditions, which is currently being tested by a number of schools in the U.S. Expeditions enables teachers to take their students on virtual journeys to explore everything from Australia's Great Barrier Reef to the International Space Station to the eye of a Category 5 hurricane.

Apple Fires Back with iPad Announcement

Meanwhile, at its Chicago event this morning, Apple announced an update to its 9.7-inch, $329 iPad that can be used with a separate $99 Apple Pencil stylus and also supports augmented reality apps. The devices will be available to school buyers at the reduced prices of $299 and $89, respectively. Both can be ordered today in the U.S. and many other countries, with in-store availability and delivery set to begin later this week.

The new iPad "takes everything people love about our most popular iPad and makes it even better for inspiring creativity and learning," vice president of product marketing Greg Joswiak said in a statement today.

Annual shipments of mobile devices for the K-12 school market in the U.S. increased by 18 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to a recent report from Futuresource Consulting, which said it expected to see similar growth in 2017.

"This continued growth in the education sector, when considered against overall declines in PC & Tablet sales in total business and consumer markets, highlights why PC OEMs and the major OS providers are focusing so hard on the education market," Futuresource's report noted.

Although the growth of Chromebooks has been a major headache for Apple and Microsoft, those companies are not standing still, Futuresource said, pointing to recent education-focused initiatives by both Google competitors.

"We believe one of the key issues of the 21st century is education," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during February's Q1 2018 earnings call. "And because of that, we've strengthened our commitment and investment into initiatives like everyone can code. We could not be more excited about our future."