“Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it.” Martin Peers of The Wall Street Journal made this statement about Apple’s newest brainchild, the iPad, before its introduction on January 27, 2010. Measuring 0.5 inches thick and weighing in at a mere 1.5 pounds, the iPad has more than 140,000 available applications as well as a ten-hour battery life. Most of the current e-readers on the market today, such as the Kindle and the Nook, only allow e-books to be viewed in grayscale. The iPad will offer all content in full, high-resolution color on its 9.7-inch screen.
Like the iPhone and the iPod touch, the iPad has an interactive touch screen. Use it to browse the Web, read e-books, listen to music, check email, and view video. Michael Conniff of the Aspen Post said the iPad is the, “first device that collected all the media together in one truly portable place.”
The device is causing quite a stir amongst book publishers. In approximately ten weeks, school textbooks will be available on the iPad in the form of highly interactive applications.
TSTC Publishing is adding the first e-books to its inventory. Math for Healthcare Professionals and Electromechanical Principles of Wind Turbines are in the process of being developed for the e-book format.
With the advent of e-readers and the iPad, publishers have unlimited possibilities when it comes to creating interactive content for textbooks. “Traditional books don’t have moving parts or make sounds, and now suddenly publishers have to become experts on e-books that do… They have to become— among other things— multimedia producers,” said John Ott and Eric Freese of Aptara, a digital content and book publishing company.
Need to read a chapter from your history textbook? There’s an app for that. Simply click on the application for the book, download the first chapter, and you’re off. Touch pictures within the text to view a slideshow of related images. With the new textbook application, simply touch the imbedded charts, graphs or statistics to receive step-by-step explanations. Complex figures are made comprehensible when they become “live” with a single tap.
Still unconvinced of the iPad’s value and significance? Many textbook lessons will be “presented” by notable experts, authors and industry professionals. Documentary-like footage and video will further aid in content mastery and learning. Definitions for vocabulary words can be obtained by touching the highlighted text. With another iPad application, users can even record class lectures and presentations.
The iPad also could eliminate one of the most costly and frustrating textbook problems facing students: The new book edition. At least every two to three years, depending on the subject, books are updated and revised, costing students hundreds of dollars and leaving old editions obsolete. Although still in the works, an iPad application would offer book edition updates. Of course, publishers would still have to pay to make the updates, and that cost would have to be passed on to the consumer. So it comes down to the convenience for the user.
I also haven’t mentioned time. With more and more and more information available, how does one access it all? Is more information always better? Soon we’ll need an app for Information Overload.
Starting at $499, the wireless and 3G models will be available in late March and April.