Here are Apple's three announcements today in a nutshell.
1. iBooks Author, a new Mac app that creates interactive iBooks for the iPad (not just textbooks—anything). Now available for free on iTunes.
Now anyone can create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, and more for iPad. All you need is an idea and a Mac. Start with one of the Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. Add your own text and images with drag-and-drop ease. Use Multi-Touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects, and more. Preview your book on your iPad at any time. Then submit your finished work to the iBookstore with a few simple steps. And before you know it, you’re a published author.
2. iBooks 2 is an update to Apple's ebook platform with an emphasis on interactive textbooks. The new textbooks, which will all be priced at $14.99 or less, feature multi-touch response, interactive photos and videos, rotatable 3D objects, gallery swiping, note highlighting that can turn into study cards, and tappable glossary terms for instant pop-up definitions. Apple is partnering with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. These guys make up 90% of the American textbook market. And since a lot of Canadian schools use many U.S. textbooks, Canada should get a decent spillover from this. Available now as a free update for iOS.
3. A revamped iTunes U for iPad focuses on taking the education-oriented niche of iTunes and thrusting it into the mainstream. iTunes U aims to become a fully fledged learning platform used and loved by both students and teachers:
[Teachers:] The all-new iTunes U app lets teachers create and manage courses including essential components such as lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and syllabuses and offer them to millions of iOS users around the world.
[Students:] iTunes U lets you take a complete course on your iPad. View the course overview, instructor biography, and course outline. Read posts and keep track of your completed assignments. Watch videos directly within the app, read books, and view all your course notes in one place. Receive push notifications alerting you to new posts from the instructor. And iCloud keeps your notes, highlights, and bookmarks up to date on all your devices.
Again, available as a free download for iOS.