iBooks Author first debuted at an unusually dedicated event on education in January this year. A nicely designed too, especially for free, the Mac app allows anyone to create rich, interactive textbooks that can be published on the iBookstore.
At their special event last month, Apple pushed out iBooks Author 2.0 and iBooks 3.0 with a few new, notable features. However, the digital bookstore is still yet to debut itself on OS X. But if you’d like to turn your NaNoWriMo book into a rich iPad reading experience, it might be just what you need. Let’s check out what’s new.
iBooks Author 2.0
One of the big features for iBooks Author is the introduction of books in a portrait orientation. With a wide selection of physical textbooks opting for the portrait orientation, adding this to iBooks will make a significant difference for some publications, especially for those that might be haphazardly transitioning to digital. This addition comes alongside more templates from Apple.
iBooks Author 2.0 also allows creators to embed fonts right into the book for use, giving better control over the appearance of type in a book. This might not seem like such a significant addition, but giving publishers, especially larger ones, more control over the design of their publication might just sway bigger adoption.
Furthermore, iBooks Author 2.0 now features better support for mathematical expressions, embeddable in books as LaTeX and MathML notation. This will certainly help better attract maths and science publishers to the platform due to a smoother, native option for expressions.
Other additions in version 2.0 include new widgets and interactive aspects, such as an iframe-style, scrollable area for storing content bigger than the size of the widget itself, optimisation of media files embedded in a book for the iPad, better support for controlling embedded audio, version numbering and optimisation for the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
Still No iBooks for Mac
Unfortunately, iBooks Author 2.0 did not bring any other new Mac apps along for the ride. Any sort of iBooks for OS X remains MIA which is disappointing, since the drive on Macs in education could probably benefit from the same availability of textbooks and education resources being offered for the iPad.
The iPhone, of course, also runs iBooks but iBooks Author 2.0 hasn’t brought any support for it either. Both the iPhone and the Mac are not as perfect for this kind of media consumption, as the iPad is, but it would have still been nice for some type of support to be offered for them.
While we don’t expect Apple to necessarily build such features into iBooks Author, the release of some sort of tool for creating Newsstand content would have been a nice surprise. Unfortunately, such a wish did not come to fruition and simple, iBooks-style tools are yet unavailable for this type of content.
It’s still very much a big wish of mine for Apple to bring easier tools for creating magazine content for the iPad. Easier creation of such materials means more chance of publishers, especially smaller ones without the time or money to create full-blown apps, adopting the platform, right?
iBooks Author 2.0 brings a number of new tools that will enhance the overall iBooks experience for both publishers and consumers. Both sides get to enjoy better support for maths, better design through embedded fonts and engagement with new interactive widgets.
For a free app, the new features in iBooks Author 2.0 are certainly not unwelcome. The app itself is great, but there’s still some steps to be made for Apple’s book and magazine ecosystem in general.