Apple's new iBooks 2 fulfills one of Steve Jobs' last dreams (+video)
At the Apple announcement Thursday, the company presented its new vision for textbook. IBooks 2 and iBooks Author aim for more interactivity in school texts, just as Steve Jobs imagined it.
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In his biography of Steve Jobs, author Walter Isaacson wrote about how Jobs met with media magnate Rupert Murdoch to talk about education. The books says, “Jobs agreed with Murdoch that the paper textbook business would be blown away by digital learning materials.”
“In fact, Jobs had set his sights on textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform. He believed it was an $8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction. He was also struck by the fact that many schools, for security reasons, don’t have lockers, so kids have to lug a heavy backpack around.”
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The book quotes Jobs as saying, “The iPad would solve that.” His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions and make them a feature of the iPad.
Jobs held meetings with major publishers such as Pearson Education about partnerships.
“The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” Jobs said. “But if we can make textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”
iBooks 2 hands-on
Apple set its sights on education this morning when it announced a slew of new apps and services for students and teachers.
Among them was iBooks 2, an updated version of the company’s iPad e-reading app that adds support for interactive textbooks. Apple promises that iBooks 2 is a complete reinvention of the textbook as we know it. From my hands-on time with the app this morning, I’m not sure if Apple has completely obliterated the need for textbooks, but it’s certainly begun an interesting journey to do so.
The free iBooks 2 app is available today, along with a few sample textbooks on the iBookstore. I chose the E.O. Wilson Foundation’s Life on Earth, being the science nerd that I am. The app took a few minutes to download and upon first launch it played a dramatic video featuring Wilson. The video, while a bit much, makes it feel like you’re exploring an episode of Planet Earth, instead of a dry science textbook.
As the video above shows, you're presented with an attractive table of contents, which makes everything inside of the book easily accessible. Navigating the e-book was incredibly fluid, and I loved finding new interactive elements on every page. Some pages featured videos, while others featured animations and interactive 3D models. The interactivity will certainly appeal to kids, but I can also see how it can help clarify concepts for high school and university students.