Apple announced that it will reinvent the textbook at its education event this morning at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Apple plans to do this through two brand-new apps: iBook Author, which is Mac software that will allow textbook writers and publishers to create textbooks for the iPad, and iBooks 2, which is the sequel to the iBooks app that will provide students with new study options like note-taking.
The new apps were demonstrated by Apple iWork Vice President Roger Rosner and Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. Traditional textbooks were described as heavy and outdated, and Apple is looking to change that by bringing school books to the digital age.
“There is no reason that kids today should use the same tools they did in 1950,” said Schiller. “One thing we hear louder than anything else is student engagement, inspiring kids to want to discover and learn. That’s why we get excited to see student reactions to iPads in the classroom.”
Apple will partner with textbook publishers like Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to fulfill the new textbook category of the iBooks 2 app. Those three publishers combined make up about 90 percent of the textbooks out there, meaning the books available on iBooks 2 will be relevant to student needs.
The textbooks on iBooks 2 will be high school level books, and will be available for $14.99 or less at launch. These prices are expected to increase as the selection expands. The app, however, is free.
IBooks 2 also offers the ability to highlight passages, view videos and images, look up words in the dictionary, create flashcards, and view 3D models.
As for iBooks Author, which is also a free app available through the iTunes store, authors will have complete freedom to lay out graphics and text for their textbook designs.
“In like five minutes flat, we created an ebook and deployed it to the iPad,” said Schiller. “I hope you find that as inspiring and empowering as I do.”
Students, authors and publishers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from Apple’s latest educational offerings. Apple also announced iPhone and iPad apps for iTunes U, which allows instructors to share videos, create syllabi and post notes for their classes.
About 1.5 million iPads are already used in school programs throughout the United States. There are over 20,000 education-related apps for the iPad, which will likely only increase from this point forward.
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