Apple announced a major new upgrade to iBooks for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch during today’s special event. The new version features an optional continuous scrolling mode for reading, sharing of information via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter and support for over 40 languages, including Korean, Chinese and Japanese, including appropriate font styles and page turning directions. iCloud integration has also been improved, effectively providing users with easier access to their iBookstore purchases in iCloud directly on their virtual bookshelf. The iBooks update is expected to be available on the App Store later today as a free download.
Updated: iBooks 3 has been released.
During its special event today, Apple unveiled a new version of iBooks Author, its creation tool for iBooks. The new version of iBooks Author provides a collection of new templates along with the ability to implement their own custom fonts and insert mathematical expressions directly into books. Additional new features include multitouch widgets and the ability to easily update iBooks online when new editions or content updates are released. The latest version of iBooks Author is expected to be available on the Mac App Store later today as a free download.
In anticipation of the upcoming release of Marvel’s The Avengers movie, Disney Publishing Worldwide has released two new storybook apps based on the Marvel Origins series with narration by the legendary Stan Lee. In Avengers Origins: Hulk ($2), readers discover the story of Dr. Bruce Banner’s initial transformation into the Incredible Hulk accompanied by detailed artwork and animations. Interactive touch-screen activities add to the storyline with users able to perform Hulk actions such as testing their strength, breaking through walls and stopping tanks.
Avengers Origins: Assemble ($2) provides readers with an introduction to the pantheon of Marvel Super Heroes such as Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. The app tells the story of war-hero Captain America who is trapped in the frozen North after a particularly dangerous and must be rescued seven decades later to join with the other Avengers to fight for the future of Earth and defend the planet from evil. In addition to action-packed artwork, sound effects and music, the app includes a collection of interactive challenges for readers including matching heroic accessories with the appropriate Super Heroes, using Thor’s powers and the Hulk’s strength to stop the Atlanteans and Namor and melt in the ice to free Captain America from his frozen prison.
The two storybook apps are designed for readers of all ages and include Read to Me, Read by Myself, Auto-Turn and Younger Reader Modes for enjoyment by children as young as 4-10 years of age. Both apps are universal for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and require iOS 4.0 or later.
In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, Oceanhouse Media has released an interactive omBook app version of the book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. First published in 1937, the book recounts the tale of Marco who walks to school along Mulberry Street keeping his eyes peeled for interesting sights to share with his father, conjuring up elaborate and exciting events in his imagination as he proceeds down the street. Originally rejected by 27 publishing houses for being too fantasy based and different from typical children’s books of the time, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street ultimately became the title that launched the now-iconic Dr. Seuss series. The omBook version brings this original story to life with professional narration, background audio and enlarged artwork for each scene and also includes highlighted words and interactive images to promote reading in young children. Oceanhouse Media is an officially licensed publisher of Dr. Seuss and other children’s book titles for iOS and other mobile and tablet devices, producing interactive and educational versions of classic children’s books. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street is available from the App Store for an introductory price of $3.
During Apple’s education event today, the company announced a new Textbook section coming to the U.S. iBookstore to showcase a new collection of interactive textbooks that will be supported by iBooks 2. In addition, Apple has partnered with three leading textbook companies that are collectively responsible for publishing 90% of textbooks including McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson. Apple has also published a new, free iBooks Author tool for Mac OS X that will enable any publisher or end user to easily create enhanced interactive textbooks to be used on the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch with the iBooks app. The new iBooks based textbooks are expected to transform the traditional learning experience by providing enhanced electronic textbooks that include rich multimedia and interactive features such as video, study cards, built-in quiz and review questions and more. Current textbooks on the iBookstore are priced at around $15 and range in size from around 800MB to about 3GB.
Amazon has released an update to its Kindle app for iOS devices adding magazine support for iPad users and document support for all iOS devices. Kindle 2.9 on the iPad now introduces a new interface for reading magazines on the device, providing iPad users with access to Amazon’s catalog of over 400 magazines and newspapers for the Kindle Fire, displayed in full colour pages. Users can purchase single issues or subscribe to magazines and newspapers and have them wirelessly delivered to the Kindle app on the iPad. The iPad version also provides a new layout for reading print replica textbooks that preserves the original formatting of the actual print editions along with support for notes and highlights, zoom and pan and a linked table of contents.
The latest Kindle app update also now allows all iOS devices to receive e-mailed documents in the same manner as the Kindle devices and introduces the ability to open PDFs from Mail, Safari and other supported iOS apps or sync PDF documents to and from the Kindle app over USB via iTunes File Sharing. The integrated Kindle PDF reader provides the PDF table of contents and thumbnail navigation to allow users to quickly navigate through PDF documents. Kindle 2.9 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.