Apple has unveiled a free iBooks 2 application for the iPad on Thursday that brings interactive textbooks to the popular tablet computer. “Education is deep in Apple’s DNA” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing. “With iBooks 2 for iPad, students have a more dynamic, engaging and truly interactive way to read and learn”.
The consumer electronics giant has been working on digital textbooks with publishers Pearson PLC, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a trio responsible for 90 per cent of textbooks sold in the United States.
Most of the high school textbooks in Apple’s iBookstore will cost $14.99 or less, Apple said, far cheaper than the current prices for print textbooks.
The move pits the makers of the iPod and iPhone against Amazon.com Inc and other content and device makers that have made inroads into the estimated $8 billion market with their electronic textbook offerings.
Apple also unveiled a free tool called iBooks Author which allows Macintosh computer users to create their own iBooks textbooks and publish them to the iBookstore. The books can have galleries of pictures, video, interactive images and 3D images dropped directly into the text.
Apple on Thursday also announced a new iTunes U application for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch that helps teachers create courses and offers free educational content for students from dozens of universities, including Cambridge, Duke, Harvard, Oxford and Stanford.