Unleashing the power of the iPad on the digital publishing world was always on the cards for Steve Jobs, the News Stand app was the first delivery tool for selling digital magazine subscriptions. As we know, Apple always have a more than a few aces up their sleeves and selling magazines is only the beginning.
Apple held a keynote presentation in New York a few days ago to unveil three new apps that will transform the way students and teachers will utilise textbooks.
The first app is iBooks 2 is a free update for the original iBooks. This update has totally beefed up the original versions features to include a really elegant and simple way to organise and study your notes. The interface looks and feels the same but it’s only when you start to play around with the features that you notice the extraordinary differences between the new and old versions. The beauty of this app is not what it can do but more so the promise of what’s to come. This app has been completely primed to allow for the influx of beautiful, high def, interactive textbooks that publishers are working on right now to offer students.
And it doesn’t stop there. You are now able to make your own ePubs with Apple’s next great app for mac, iBook Author.
iBook Author has the power to completely revolutionalise the way digital publications are made and how they are distributed. This app is a free download for mac and can be downloaded via the mac app store. The interface is similar to Pages or iWeb, in that you are able to simply import digital content and move and place it to any position on the page, allowing for complete freedom and control of the look and feel of your book. It comes pre loaded with 6 beautiful designed templates that you can totally customise to create your own document. You can import video with a simple drag and drop but the files must be m4v files to suit the ePub standards. I can wait to create and share these documents with my students, more importantly, I can wait to see what they come up with using this awesome technology. I’ll keep you posted.
Finally, the last app that Apple unveiled was the iTunes U free app for iPad and iPhone. This app has been a long time coming and, in my opinion, is totally worth the wait. For years, iTunes U was a completely untapped resources for lots of teachers, particularly K-12 teachers. The content is amazing and produced to a very high quality by some of the leading universities all over the world. It allows students to download resources such as study notes, handouts, reading lists and even download podcast of entire lectures that have been recorded and uploaded by the universities. Previously, you needed to access all of these resources through iTunes on your mac, but not anymore. The new app gives you complete access to all of these resources at the tip of your fingers. It also allows you to subscribe to the RSS feeds, enabling you to auto download new content as soon as it is published. No more can students use the old “I lost the handout” excuse ;-). But this isn’t the best part about the new app. With the new app comes a whole world of new possibilities. Universities are currently offering student with entire online courses for free via the new iTunes U app. Students are able to subscribe to the courses, download the required content and work through the course work. It also allows for simple communication between students and teachers through the “posts” feature. When you open the app, it looks and feels very much like iBooks. The courses are positioned in the a mahogany bookcase and open up like a book binder. The amount of complete online courses are set to increase in the very near future as more and more universities and schools are writing material to share on the iTunes U app. Apple have also announced that the iTunes U store will be open for K-12 schools very soon, allowing teachers to share content with their students using this amazing app. Stay tuned for more details about that.