Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Apple iBooks app introduces several good new features, and one that has users a bit uneasy

The new Apple iBooks app update finally appeared in the list of app updates for users. Though the app update was touted by Apple CEO Tim Cook during yesterday's product launch event, the update did not actually appear in my list of apps to be updated until this morning, others saw it earlier.

The app update for iBooks 3 brings in lots of new features that authors and publishers can take advantage of. There is also one new feature that some readers are complaining about.

The complaint involves Collections, the area where the user can organize their bookshelf. The default settings give the reader three collections: Books, Purchased Books and PDFs. The iBooks user can add new collections, basically a new folder, if they want. These new collections can be deleted at any time by the user, but the original three collections can not.

Some users are complaining about the new Purchased Books area. The thinking is that they do not like having all their purchases displayed permanently.
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The strangest thing about the new Purchased Books collection is that it appears to be editable, but in reality is not. Attempts to delete books there proved impossible, which is probably is what is annoying users. Apple is saying they know what is best for the user, a very Microsoft thing to do.

Other new features introduced with the update will be very useful, though.

There is a new Scroll theme that will allow books to be scrolled through rather than have to flip digital pages.

Also, free book updates are now possible. This makes iBooks function more like the Newsstand and is a feature that I am sure will be utilized a lot by publishers, especially textbook publishers.

Readers can no look up word definitions in German, Spanish, French, Japanese and Simplified Chinese, a feature that came with iOS 6.

And probably the best new feature is the sharing feature. A reader highlights a portion of text, then the options pop up that include Copy, Highlight, Note, Search, Share and Speak.

The Share options allows the user to email, message, tweet or Facebook the text to others, as well as simply copy the text for use elsewhere.

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