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Hands-On Video With Apple's Digital Textbooks

Engadget has posted a hands-on video of the iPad's interactive digital textbooks in the press demo section of Apple's education-focused media event today, and they were impressed:
Interacting with the books is a generally intuitive combination of tapping, swiping and pinching. You can pinch from any page to get out to the heading of that chapter, then drag along a bar on the bottom to quickly go from one chapter to the next. When you're looking at any page, you can get a closer view of any of the media there by simply pinching it. Tiny picture of an ant? Give it a nudge and it's full-screen. You can then swipe through galleries, play movies and interact with various other widgets that authors can drop in place.

As always with an Apple product announcement, the company has produced a promotional video complete with interviews of Apple executives and regular customers using their products. The video for the digital textbook includes teachers talking about how textbooks are out of date as soon as they are printed and how digital-savvy students expect more out of their learning materials.


Apple has also posted a gallery of the various elements that can be built-into interactive iBooks with the iBooks Author app, including HTML Modules, Keynote Presentations, 3D Images, and more.

Apple's initial focus for its textbook effort is on high school textbooks, with books priced at $14.99 or less. Authors can continually update their content, and the students get to keep their copies indefinitely. Books are available via the iBooks app, available as a free download from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Top Rated Comments

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34 months ago
Apple brings the future here, again.
Rating: 8 Votes
34 months ago

I dont get why they had to change the name from iBooks to iBooks 2 though. Am I missing something?


iBooks 2.0. Second major version.
Rating: 8 Votes
34 months ago
This is a great move. I really hope they work on the college/higher education project sooner than later. It is completely absurd that a textbook should cost what it does. They should not be free, but they should also not be $300. Case in point: The bookstore at my alma mater charged $98 for a used, paperback copy of Siddhartha. Nevermind that the price printed on the book (for when it was originally sold) was $12.99. Of course I didn't buy it. Anyway, I get that there's market economics at play, but there's also a bit of a racket: Why should the manager at the campus bookstore make $140,000 a year?
Rating: 8 Votes
34 months ago
I dont get why they had to change the name from iBooks to iBooks 2 though. Am I missing something?
Rating: 7 Votes
34 months ago



This is a welcomed step. My daughters rolling backpack weighs 41 pounds. Filled with daily required text books.


The best is when you get to college and each one of those textbooks for a core class costs $100+.

You can buy an iPad for the amount it costs to buy textbooks for one semester of college at the beginning.
Rating: 7 Votes
34 months ago
It's interesting that a tech site such as this one has so many posters that seem to be afraid of change and can't see the forest through the trees.

This is the future!!!!
Rating: 7 Votes
34 months ago
This is one of those Apple products that seems good in theory but they never ever follow up with significant content. iBooks fiction content sucks, so does Apple TV rentals. In both cases, very little was done in terms of content after the initial release and initial promise of future content.

Secondly, until they have a desktop version and have logical syncing of devices (um..LAST page read instead of FURTHEST page read), this is still a B product to me. Being able to view things on a bigger screen would aid certain textbook type as well as being able to do homework / reports etc on the same screen you have the textbook. And once to go to the table of content in any book (or browse ahead of where you are) your sync is over - it's always go to the further page read and not where you wanna be with no way to re-sync. Those two items are killers in terms of usability of a electronic textbook.

Lastly, screen glare would make it difficult to read in bright sunlight - which many students love to do (i.e. sit on from lawn of school and read or in their back yard).

Tony
Rating: 7 Votes
34 months ago
I'm sure Google is looking at their tablet market and thinking...."ah crap!"

Nice read on what this means for Apple (http://www.thetechblock.com/articles/2012/the-apple-strategy-teach-them-and-youve-got-them/)
Rating: 5 Votes
34 months ago
Although this is version 1.0 software (e-textbooks), I think the demo is not that impressive...all the repeated hand gestures and pinches. Sure, he may "get used to it" but I find the example video pretty poor on ease of use.

As I said before, it will be decades before e-textbooks are any kind of norm. Although the textbook may be heavy, it just works. Period. Can it be improved with animations and videos and searchability? Sure...but at what cost? Stolen iPads, crashing apps, dead batteries, incompatible OSes (I've seen this plenty with my apps on my iOS devices) and/or new bugs with upgrades, and finally the missing simplicity of opening up a book or bookmarking/dogearing a page...or taking 5 seconds with your pen to write "see page 12 for another example" on the side of any page.

The example also is really nothing more than an encyclopedia section...where's a REAL textbook with paragraphs of info, examples/diagrams, test-your-knowledge questions, and some sample whitespace to "show your work". The video example (regarding mitosis and ants) is not that much of a difference/improvement over MS Encarta '97. Seriously. Sure, there's the whole touchscreen aspect but that's at the iOS level.
Rating: 5 Votes
34 months ago

Although this is version 1.0 software (e-textbooks), I think the demo is not that impressive...all the repeated hand gestures and pinches. Sure, he may "get used to it" but I find the example video pretty poor on ease of use.

As I said before, it will be decades before e-textbooks are any kind of norm. Although the textbook may be heavy, it just works. Period. Can it be improved with animations and videos and searchability? Sure...but at what cost? Stolen iPads, crashing apps, dead batteries, incompatible OSes (I've seen this plenty with my apps on my iOS devices) and/or new bugs with upgrades, and finally the missing simplicity of opening up a book or bookmarking/dogearing a page...or taking 5 seconds with your pen to write "see page 12 for another example" on the side of any page.

The example also is really nothing more than an encyclopedia section...where's a REAL textbook with paragraphs of info, examples/diagrams, test-your-knowledge questions, and some sample whitespace to "show your work". The video example (regarding mitosis and ants) is not that much of a difference/improvement over MS Encarta '97. Seriously. Sure, there's the whole touchscreen aspect but that's at the iOS level.


Wow. It was just a demo... you also miss the fact, a 5 year old can pick up an ipad and use it better than you can. (Not being rude... it's true. It's awful for your self esteem when your niece shows you up.) I notice a lot of people making similar comments, and it shows your age vs. kids of today. If I weren't involved with so many kids, or didn't keep current on these things, I'd not be much different. Maybe.

I mean, when I was in school, I thought scantron tests were fascinating that they could read your answer with a number 2 pencil...

But to ease some of your concerns:
*ebooks of all kinds are easily bookmarked.... oh, and that scrap of paper doesn't fall out between the pages to have you lose your place when you drop the book.
*schools that sign on with iPads have a free maintenance program with Apple. Hardware failure? Apple swaps out the iPad.
*If every kid has their own iPad, not really a reason to steal someone else's except to be a jerk... and kids have been doing that for a 100 years with whole back packs!
*Again your age... kids are doing more than half their lessons on computers now. When was the last time you went into a classroom?? They're quite different...
*iBooks have been searchable since day 1... might I suggest you download even a sample book of any kind to see how they work? Book marks, highlights, oh.... you can even grab the definition of any word in an ebook without leaving your page, which greatly improves my vocabulary at my age, much less a school kid who otherwise might not take the time to pull a big dictionary off the shelf.
*Notes in the margin of a school book? I think that was always a no no, writing in your books in public school, since other people use them the next year. If I recall, kids take notes in notebooks along side their text books... some old school ideas still are relevant.
*The practice tests in books you mentioned... again, you were never supposed to write in your book and had to record your answer on a seperate piece of paper, right? Well, in this format, a resettable quiz would easily be dropped into the text, and instead of passing your paper to the person behind you for a group check the answers, everyone would get an immediate score. In fact, the app could even generate a study guide for the student on the items they need more study/practice with.
*As for upgrades and compatibility, what do you think schools currently do with computers? They test new software or updates on them before rolling them out to every computer in the school. (Just like your IT department does at work.) Don't forget, the focus is K-12... these kids turn their iPads in at the end of each year. Apple also gives the school these docking carts that iPads get plugged into... you know, for mass updates and refreshes. Beyond K-12, you're dealing with adults who shouldn't have these concerns and would be more responsible. They're already using tablets and laptops anyway.

I'm not trying to poke fun at your concerns, but the bulk of them really just show generation gaps. I know not everyone has probably read and followed the articles and stories about schools who have been using iPads, but this info is all out there. The audience this presentation was for isn't ignorant to these things or Apple's education programs that existed before today.

I highly recommend you try out iBooks since you have IOS devices. It will squalsh half your concerns in just a few seconds.
Rating: 5 Votes

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