Apple is holding an education-themed media event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on Thursday, with rumours suggesting it will heavily revolve around textbooks and the iBooks platform. Ars Technica is this morning reporting that part of the event will also be the announcement of a “GarageBand for e-books”.
The gist of this idea is that whilst anyone can create an ePub for iBooks distribution, the process is not simple – particularly if you want to go beyond the basics and add multimedia or other interactive elements. Ars Technica’s sources say Apple will announce a tool on Thursday that makes the process of creating iBooks easier. Ars points out that Apple doesn’t want to get in the textbook or book industry, just like they don’t want to enter the movie industry as content creators. Instead they have offered tools from GarageBand and iMovie to Logic and Final Cut Pro to allow anyone from consumers to professionals to create content.
The current state of software tools continues to frustrate authors and publishers alike, with several authors telling Ars that they wish Apple or some other vendor would make a simple app that makes the process as easy as creating a song in GarageBand.
Ars also believes that Apple will announce support for the ePub 3 standard in iBooks on Thursday. Apple had used the ePub 2 standard along with some HTML5-based extensions for further multimedia and interactive elements, but the new standard removes the need for the proprietary extensions – ensuring that ePubs are compatible across platforms.
A few hours ago Apple released an update to their iBooks app. Now at version 1.5, the update adds some significant features to improve the reading experience of the app. The release notes below detail those improvements:
Nighttime reading theme makes reading books in the dark easier on the eyes.
Full-screen layout lets you focus on the words without distraction.
iBooks now features an improved selection of fonts, including Athelas, Charter, Iowan, and Seravek.
Beautiful new classic covers for public domain books.
A redesigned annotation palette makes it easier to choose a color for your highlighted text.
A new update to iBooks for iPhone and iPad has started propagating in iTunes, bringing the app to version 1.3 after the major announcements from yesterday’s keynote, which also noted iCloud’s capability of pushing book purchases across devices with the new Automatic Downloads feature. iBooks 1.3, available here, adds a read-aloud option with real narrators’ voices to read a book to, say, your children, with some books even highlighting words as the narrator speaks. Alongside media improvements to enhanced books, the changelog reports:
Help your children learn to read with the new read-aloud feature included in select children’s books from the iBookstore.
The read-aloud feature uses a real narrator to read the book to you, and in some books, it will even highlight the words as you read along.
Enhanced books can now automatically play audio or video included with the book.
Makes iBooks more responsive when opening very long books.
Addresses an issue where some books may display the same page twice.
We heard last night several reports of iOS 5 beta “corrupting” books and .epub files in iBooks, so it’s likely that this update will also bring early iOS 5 compatibility and fix those issues. Get iBooks 1.3 here.
With an update to the iTunes Store, Apple is now finally allowing iPhone and iPad users to download iBooks on their Macs, and send them to their iOS devices. Announced with a banner that just went live in the iTunes Store homepage, the new Books section is available here and, as you would expect from the feature iOS users have been asking for almost a year now, it’s simply the iBookstore available on the desktop.
You can browse Staff Favorites, add items to your Wish List, check out the “Best of the month” and “popular pre-orders”. Everything seen on the iBookstore for iOS has been ported to a new section in the iTunes Store for desktop computers, which doesn’t require an iTunes update. With the new “Automatic Downloads” functionality that went live earlier today, you’ll be able to buy a book on your computer and instantly see it available on your iPhone or iPad with a download happening in the background.
At the moment of writing this, there doesn’t seem to be a desktop iBooks app, which was rumored in the past months to be in the works as an alternative for the iOS ebook reader. Check out more screenshots below. (more…)
When the iPad went on sale just over a year ago, many were unsure of what people would use it for and the uncertainty has largely continued to today, where it is still a little vague as to how a tablet fits into people’s lives. Yesterday however, Business Insider published some fascinating data on a whole range of questions that surround the iPad and how it is used. The data was collated after Business Insider issued an extensive survey, on a wide variety of issues and questions, to more than 850 people.
Their survey revealed that for about 70% of respondents, there was only 1 iPad in their household and only about 23% has 2 in the one household – less than 7% had 3 or more iPads in their household. Nearly 40% had downloaded between 20 and 50 apps, whilst 30% had downloaded more than 50 apps – with few paying for more than 20 of those apps and only 6% paying for none. Below are some of the other more interesting results but jump over to The Atlantic for all the results.
87.4% did not even consider an Android tablet before buying an iPad and 90% would not consider a BlackBerry PlayBook or HP TouchPad
The number of people with WiFi-only or the 3G iPad is fairly evenly split (52% to 48%)
Only 49% subscribe to a monthly 3G data plan (of those who have a 3G iPad)
40% use the iPad as their primary computer
The most cited reasons for use of the iPad are; web browsing (35%), using social or communication apps (22%), watching video (12%), playing games (12%) and using all other apps (20%)
For consuming news, 38% would use the iPad’s web browser, 34% would use a news site’s app and 28% would use an aggregator like Reeder or Flipboard.
72% read e-books on the iPad, mostly on iBooks but Kindle is a close second
A few minutes ago Apple released a minor update to iBooks, its eBook reading application for iPhones and iPads available for free in the App Store. iBooks 1.2.2 includes “important stability and performance improvements” that should make the app more responsive as well as fix a series of issues reported by users in the previous versions of the app. The update addresses an issue with videos being played from enhanced books purchased from the iBookstore and fixes a problem with some books opening in a different font than expected. Last, books with several items in their table of contents should feel more responsive overall.
Adam Engst at TidBITS details an important change in how iBooks handles .EPUB files opened directly on iOS:
The practical upshot of this fix is that you can now transfer EPUB files into iBooks far more easily than before, when the only way was to drop them into iTunes and do a USB sync. For individual users, that means you can send yourself an EPUB via email and transfer the attachment to iBooks, and you can also copy EPUB files into Dropbox and use the iOS Dropbox app to send them to iBooks.
From our perspective as a publisher, even more important is that you can now tap a link to a .epub file in Safari and use the Open In interface to open the file in iBooks.
Basically, forwarding books bought / downloaded in Mobile Safari to iBooks got a lot easier thanks to the “Open In…” menu. Project Gutenberg books work great with this method.
As noted by 9to5mac, Apple has tweaked the “apps for iPad” webpage to include guided tours of the new iMovie for iPad, GarageBand and iBooks. iBooks isn’t exactly new, but everything has been re-recorded with shiny new white iPads. The voice over is also pretty good and clear, the tutorials make movie editing, music making and recording look simple and fun. Some details that weren’t demoed at Apple’s keynote are also featured: GarageBand has a dual keyboard mode, there’s a selection of Apple-designed amps to choose from and iMovie picks up songs from the iPod library or its built-in sounds seamlessly.
Videos are available here. The iPad 2 comes out on Friday, and we’re going to get ours as soon as we can. Look for lots of iPad 2 coverage on March 11 here on MacStories.
Update: Apple has posted more tutorials for every built-in iPad app. Check them out here.
If you live in a corporate environment these days, chances are your employer has given you an iPad to try out. It is no secret that hundreds of companies are piloting or deploying iPads and iPhones, but when it comes to a machine that’s less than a year old and has created a new category of portable computing, trying to make it fit in your daily workflow can become a problem. What apps do I need to install? What about email settings? What’s the best way to manage my calendar? And Exchange?
Author Dave Caolo provides answers to these questions in his first book “Using Your iPad as a Business Productivity Tool”. The book is available now in the iBookstore for iPad at $5.99, but you can also pre-order it for your Kindle on Amazon. We had the chance to chat with Dave about the background of this book, and why he decided to focus on the iPad, a relatively young device for a business audience.
So head after the break for the full interview, and go download the book for your iPad here. (more…)