Apple's January Media Event to Involve Digital Textbooks and Education?

Yesterday, AllThingsD reported that Apple is planning a late January media event in New York City that appeared to have something to do with Apple's publishing or advertising efforts rather than any hardware announcements. TechCrunch weighed in a few hours later with word that the event is indeed focused on publishing and the iBookstore.

At the time of our report on that information, we suggested that digital textbooks could be a possibility for the event given that Steve Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson has indicated several times that one of Jobs' last goals had been to revolutionize textbooks. According to Isaacson:

His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple.

Adding to the speculation about textbooks perhaps playing a role in the upcoming announcement is information we've received from a source indicating that Apple last month filmed a series of short interviews with textbook industry executives. The interviews are said to have been of the type that would be used in one of Apple's promotional overview videos for a new product or service.

Our source cautions us that there is no direct evidence tying the interviews to the upcoming media event and that Apple frequently films promotional video segments and commercials that never see the light of the day, but the timing of the filming seems to be in line with possible preparations for the media event.


Even more fuel for the idea that the event may carry an education focus comes from a new blog post from Clayton Morris of Fox News, who claims that the event will focus on iTunes U and perhaps textbooks.

Here is what I know from sources involved:

- This event will focus on iTunes University and Apple in education
- I learned of the event back in September when it was originally scheduled for late Fall in New York but it was eventually postponed.
- The event will be in New York rather than in the Silicon Valley because New York is more centrally located for textbook and publishing.
- This initiative has been in the making for years.
- The announcement will be small in size but large in scope: a big announcement in a demure space.
- I expect at least two large project announcements as they relate to Apple in education.
- Steve Jobs was intinimately [sic] involved with this project before his passing. He gave a hat tip to the textbook side of this project in the Isaacson biography.
- This will not be a hardware-related announcement.

Morris has a bit of a mixed track record, having weighed in just ahead of Apple's original iPad introduction in January 2010 to correctly predict the device's appearance (an easy guess) but miss with his predictions of discussion relating to iOS 4 and an update to iLife.

At the time of the iPad's debut in early 2010, Apple was said to have struck deals with textbook publishers to bring their content to the iPad, but Apple has so far been rather quiet on the topic of textbooks on the iPad and offerings have so far been limited.

Update: 9to5Mac also indicates that the iTunes team in on "lockdown mode" heading into the media event, suggesting that the announcement is indeed related to content of some sort.

Update 2: Ars Technica adds its voice to the rumors surrounding digital textbooks:

And based on information from our own sources, we believe the announcement could likely involve support for the EPUB 3 standard, which enables a wider variety of multimedia and interaction features. [...]

Incidentally, one source who has worked with Apple to integrate technology in education recently suggested that Apple may have important changes coming to its iBooks platform directed specifically toward the academic set. Digital textbooks represent another nascent market that Apple could potentially upend as it did with music and mobile apps.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
115 months ago

This is stupid. Digital Textbooks are only good with E-ink displays, otherwise you're gonna cause eye strain.


It isn't like reading off an iPad or a computer screen for an extended period of time is anything new. And these digital textbooks would arguably do a lot in the way of lightening the load for college students to worry about carrying/selling later. I think it's something that can really change things for the better, even without e-ink.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
115 months ago

This is stupid. Digital Textbooks are only good with E-ink displays, otherwise you're gonna cause eye strain.

Interactive learning can be a very effective learning tool. List some data and a user/reader might remember it.

Let them interact with some data, and they can understand it on a more meaningful level.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
115 months ago

i cant study or read a book on my iPad. i always end up surfing the web or listening to music,


:rolleyes: That's not the iPad; that's ADD.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
115 months ago

This is stupid. Digital Textbooks are only good with E-ink displays, otherwise you're gonna cause eye strain.


The level of interactivity and image quality they will likely add dissagrees.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
115 months ago

Apple needs to make an eInk Kindle-like device pronto. Wrap it in aluminium and get people to pay the Apple tax - you can't read for very long on an iPad.


Using a text book is not the same as reading a novel.

I find it odd that people can browse the web for hours on an iPad, but then claim that they can't read a book on it.

Do people remember what computer monitors were like 20 years ago? Yet, people used them.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
115 months ago

Image (http://www.cs.washington.edu/news/KindlePilot/images/kindle2.jpg)


I have a BS in MechEngr (decades ago).

Show me an animation of a mechanism with force vectors...
Now change the link parameters...
Change the forces acting on the links...

How about an animation of heat transfer through a solid?
through two solids...
add a 2 mil airgap...

How about airflow around an object?

These are basic enhancements that redefine etextbooks. E-ink isn't capable of this.

Which is a better educational tool?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

Google Reportedly Pays Apple $8-12 Billion Per Year to be Default iOS Search Engine

Sunday October 25, 2020 2:59 pm PDT by
The United States Justice Department is targeting a lucrative deal between Apple and Google as part of one of the U.S. government's largest antitrust cases, reports The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the Mountain View-based company used anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and advertising markets to ...

iPhone 12 Pro Allows You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly Using LiDAR Scanner

Saturday October 24, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality experiences, but the sensor also enables another unique feature: the ability to measure a person's height instantly using the Measure app. You can even measure the seated height of a person in a chair, according to Apple. When the Measure app detects a person in the viewfinder, it automatically measures their...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

iPhone 12 Six-Foot Drop Test Results: Ceramic Shield More Durable But Not Damage Proof

Monday October 26, 2020 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro feature a new Ceramic Shield screen that Apple says offers 4x better drop performance. To test that claim, Allstate Protection Plans put the two models through a range of breakability tests and recorded the results. In a face down sidewalk drop test at six feet, the iPhone 12 suffered small cracks and scuffed corners and edges, leaving sharp grooves in ...

Bloomberg: New AirPods and AirPods Pro Coming in 2021, AirPods Studio Delayed, Third HomePod Model Also Possible

Monday October 26, 2020 3:34 am PDT by
Apple plans to update its AirPods line next year with two new models including third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on two new models: third-generation entry-level AirPods and the second version of the AirPods Pro earbuds, according to people familiar with the plans. ...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...