Apple revealed plans to ‘reinvent the textbook’ through new applications and software in New York today.
It is releasing iBooks Author, a free application for the Mac that allows professional and independent authors to easily make books which can then be uploaded to the iBookstore. The books can be trade books like novels, or textbooks filled with interactive graphics.
To accommodate the new e-textbooks, Apple is rolling out iBooks 2, which can display interactive, graphic-rich textbooks. The textbooks will be available for high schoolers for $15.
The last part of Apple’s plan is an application for iTunes U, which had been just a part of the iTunes store until now. iTunes U will allow teachers to set up lesson plans, and lectures for students. It’s a digital course syllabus, basically.
All of this stuff is neat, but there’s one big problem: Not everyone has an iPad. And iPads, while relatively inexpensive, are still pricey.
Here we go!
9:57: Apple’s stock hit a new all-time high today. Investors excited about e-textbooks? Probably not. They’re just getting amped up for next week’s earnings report which is supposed to be a blowout.
9:58: It just got underway with Phil Schiller taking the stage. He says eduction is a big part of Apple’s history, and its happy to do anything to help students learn.
10:01: Talking about the problems with the education industry …
Photo: John Gruber on Twitter
10:03: Apple plays a video with teachers complaining about the state of the industry. Schiller says no one company or person can fix the industry, but Apple wants to help, specidically with engagement.
10:05: Schiller: There are 1.5 million iPads in use in education. It’s starting to take off, but we want to make it easier.
10:06: First step is “reinventing the text book.”
10:07: Textbooks are cumbersome. They get old and messed up. They’re heavy, etc. But they have great content in them!
Hilarious photo from The Verge of Phil Schiller doing specs for a textbook:
Photo: The Verge
10:09: Apple is introducing “iBooks 2” which has a new textbook experience for the iPad.
10:10: Now its demo time. The book being demoed is a biology textbook and its filled with interactive graphics. Apple says the obvious: No printed textbook could do this!
10:12: Here’s an idea of what it looks like from The Verge, which has lots of great images. Click here to see The Verge’s excellent coverage »
Photo: The Verge
10:15: More demo of the textbooks. They look good, and it’s exactly what you’d expect from an e-textbook. Not to be too much of a Debbie Downer, but Kno has been doing this for the last year for publishers. Obviously, it’s a bigger deal when Apple gets behind it, but this isn’t anything new or revolutionary, yet.
10:20 You can take notes in iBooks 2 with textbooks. You can take quizzes.They textbooks will be available in the iBookstore.
10:21: And now Phil Schiller is back. iBooks 2 is available today.
10:21: To make these books, Apple has rolled out “iBooks Author,” a Mac application that lets you write books for iBooks. Apple’s running through a demo of the “iBooks Author” software. You have standard templates to choose from. You can drag and drop images.
Another photo from The Verge:
Photo: The Verge
10:26: The reaction in our office: Not the most consumer-friendly application. That’s fine, it’s not meant for most consumers. It’s for self-publishing authors and professional publishers.
10:30: Now Schiller is back. Says it’s stunning that anyone can make interactive textbooks so easily. Says the books can be extended to HTML5. iBook Author is available for free. That’s pretty impressive! Has to make Adobe nervous.
10:33: Textbooks will only cost $15 or less, says Schiller. Apple is starting with High School textbooks. The books will ‘always be up to date,’ and each student (who can afford an iPad) will get their own copy of the book.
10:35: Apple is working with Pearson, Houghton mifflin, and McGraw Hill, the biggest textbook publishers. Biology and Chemistry books are coming from McGraw Hill to start.
10:39: Now Apple is showing a video about the textbooks.
10:46: Apple’s video actually said, “They’re going to want to go to school. They’re going to want to learn.” HAHAHA. Come on Apple! Kids don’t hate school because textbooks stink.
10:47: Eddy Cue takes the stage to talk about iTunes U, Apple’s education section in iTunes. Says it’s primarily used for lectures. There have been 700 million downloads.
10:48: Apple is expanding to iTunes U into its own app for teachers and students. It’s supposed to be an all in one shop for teachers and students. In iTunes U, teachers can insert notes for students to look over. They can give assignments. This is all really great stuff, but Apple is just assuming students can afford iPads. At the college level it’s probably true. At the public school level for high school, it’s not. Another thing: This should work on the web, not just iTunes app. Not everyone uses Apple products.
10:54: Eddy Cue is back, and he’s talking about all the schools that will use iTunes U: Yale, Stanford, etc. They’ve created over 100 courses to use in iTunes U app.
10:56: Phil Schiller is back … talking about Apple’s previous work with education. Says he hopes educators look back on this work as fondly as they do Apple’s earlier work in education.
10:57: And that’s that.
ORIGINAL POST: Welcome! We’re here to cover Apple’s “education” announcement.
We’ll provide the best commentary and coverage from those people here, as well as our own thoughts.
Unlike most Apple events, this one is expected to be a low-key affair. The rumour is that Apple will release software making it easier for textbook makers to produce interactive e-textbooks.
Unlike other industries Apple has disrupted, this one is said to be much slower moving, and a bigger challenge. Textbooks don’t come out as frequently as normal trade books.
We’ll see what Apple has in store shortly.