Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apple unveils updates for both iBooks and iBooks Author

As expected, Apple today unveiled updates for both iBooks and its software program iBooks Author. Because the new iPad mini will sport the same resolution display as the second generation iPad, there is no need for a major revision of either program due to the new iPad.

So the updates for both programs will probably be quite a disappointment for many eBook developers. The biggest change that could have occurred to iBooks Author would have been support for the iPhone and iPod touch, but Apple did not add that today, and as a result continues to be missing a major opportunity.

The biggest problem with iBooks Author is simply that it does not play nice in the sandbox. Developers of eBooks want to sell their books inside Apple's iBookstore, but they also want to sell them as Kindle Editions, and other formats.

But while there are good technical and commercial reasons why iBooks Author will not support these non-Apple platforms, the fact that a developer will need another solution in order to get their books onto an iPhone means that iBooks Author is solely lacking as a design platform.

The good news, as mentioned above, is that because the new iPad mini is essentially a second generation iPad, but smaller, means that no new platform has been introduced today to complicate things even more.

Update: the updated iBooks Author is now live and is being labeled as 2.0. The update can be found in the Mac App Store and is 219 MB.
What's New in Version 2.0
• Create new gorgeous portrait-only books
• Embed custom fonts into books for complete control over text appearance
• Add even more interactivity with new Scrolling Sidebar and Pop-Over widgets
• Support for mathematical expressions with new native equation editing using both LaTeX and MathML notation
• Automatic optimization of media for iPad
• Improved support for embedded audio, including the ability to play an audio file by tapping an image
• Improved publishing workflow, including automatic sample book creation and pre-publish checking
• Additional Apple-designed templates
• Version numbering for books
• Enhanced to take advantage of the Retina display on the new MacBook Pro
• Performance improvements
• Usability improvements
Here is Tim Cook introducing the newest version of iBooks Author, that should be available for download in the Mac App Store this afternoon: