We’ve known about Apple’s special education event for a while, but now we’ve got the official word. At the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Apple’s VP of marketing Phil Schiller announced that they’re looking to enter the textbook industry. With the new iBooks 2, Apple aims to change the way students are able to get their hands on educational material–assuming you’ve got an iPad.
The new iBooks 2 app is no longer just eReader-style–it’s a whole new platform. With 1.5 million iPads currently being used and 20,000 educational apps already in existence, Apple’s developed a new way to work with publishers to get their content out on the app, at a much more reasonable price.
Audience members at the event were able to get a first look at the interface of iBooks 2. The initial screen resembles a bookstand, where users can browse and select titles.
After tapping on one, they can watch an intro movie embedded within the book. The app lets you quickly scroll through pages using thumbnails, and skip to specific chapters. It works in both portrait and landscape modes.
In another neat feature, publishers now have the ability to create engaging content for students. Users can answer multiple-choice questions, make notes and highlights, and use notecards throughout the text. Within the book, they can explore full movies, embedded graphics, and 3D animations.
So how do you create a textbook for iBooks 2? Apple’s answer is another new application called iBooks Author, a Mac app for authoring books. Closely compared with how you would use another popular Apple app, Keynote, iBooks Author seeks to make eBook creation a dead-simple task. Here’s how it works: Launch it, and you’re shown options for ready-made templates. From these, you can start building a book. Painless drag-and-drop controls let you create a full layout with interactive content and glossaries–a true WYSIWYG application. It’s available today on the Mac App Store for free.
Of course, Apple has enlisted some bigwig educational publishers to partner with them at launch, too: Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. These big-name publishers are already behind 90 percent of textbooks sold.
Pearson will offer Algebra 1, Biology, Environmental Science and Geometry. McGraw Hill will put out Algebra 1, Biology, Chemistry, Geometry, and Physics. McGraw Hill has made all of their offerings available today, while Pearson’s Biology and High School Science books are initially available today, with the rest of their textbooks to follow. DK Publishing, another company Apple is working with, are launching four books today: Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life, Natural History Insects, Natural History Animals, and My First ABC.