iBooks 2 and iBooks Author: Apple ushers in a post-textbook world

Apple held it’s ‘Educational Announcement’ event in New York today, unveiling it’s vision of the future of the textbook and the latest version of it’s digital books platform on the iPad: iBooks 2.

iBooks Textbooks for iPad

iBooks 2

Apple’s bold aim is nothing less than to reinvent the textbook: According to Apple’s Phil Schiller, use of the iPad in schools is “starting to take off, but we want to make it even easier.”  The idea is to replace them with interactive iPad versions, with smart indexes, video and image galleries with all the usual pinch and zoom functions of an iBook.

“I think you can see immediately, these are gorgeous books,” said Apple’s Roger Wosner. “They have some really cool, rich, engaging interactive experiences.” The books seem very promising, with extra learning aids built in such as interactive quizzes and the ability to make a note anywhere in the book whilst reading it on your iPad, tapping the menu bar to view all the notes at once. 

iBooks Author

Fittingly as Apple have provided a way to view these digital textbooks, they have also unveiled a Mac app to create them.  The app comes preloaded with templates and tools to embed multimedia and interactive elements; Using an easy drag-and-drop interface you can add galleries, videos and even web content via HTML, previewing your book on the iPad as you work.

iBooks Author is available now free of charge on the Mac App Store, and iPad users will get a new ‘Textbooks’ category in iBooks, where they’ll find books from a variety of leading publishers all priced at £10 or less.

The major stumbling block we can see to this scheme is that it requires widespread iPad ownership amongst students in schools, which seems a little unlikely it has to be said!  Either that or it would take a major investment in education to equip schools with an iPad for each child- which seems even less likely given the state of the economy at present.  Maybe Apple are planning a budget, education-specific iPad in the near future who knows.


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