Apple held its press event in NYC this morning and unveiled a suite of new and updated apps for education and book publishing. Front and center was iBooks 2, an updated version of the eReader app that’ll support interactive textbooks for all education levels.
These textbooks will mix traditional text with interactive multimedia content. These textbooks can be updated on a regular basis and will offer students the opportunity to interact with their material instead of just stare at it. Apple showed how students can pinch to zoom on high-resolution images, and then click on the them to pull up additional information (like the details on the peptidoglycan within a microbial cell wall). There’s also a Notes feature that’ll automatically create study cards from highlighted content within the textbook.
iBooks 2 is available now for the iPhone and iPad from the iTunes App Store. Apple will launch these interactive textbooks with the help of McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Most of the early textbooks will be science textbooks for college and high school. The books will be priced reasonably with the high school books starting at $14.99 or less. To help you create these multimedia textbooks, Apple also introduced its new iBooks Author app. iBooks Author is compatible with Lion and available for free from the Mac App store.
Also on the docket for Apple’s NYC event was the introduction of the iTunes U App. The iPad app will let students complete an entire course using only their iPad. The iPad app will include lecture notes, course information, and posts which will let teachers send information directly to students. Posts would be perfect for time-sensitive information like class cancellations and changes to homework assignments. iTunes U is available for free, and course content can be easily created by any teacher.
Update: Apple posted the video of the event on its website.