This week marked the end of speculation about Apple's plans to expand its business in the education market.
At a relatively low-key event held in New York this week, the company debuted a new version of its iBooks software with support for textbooks, alongside free authoring tools for Macs that can be used to create and publish new iPad-compatible works.
Additionally, Apple opened up its iTunes U program to any institution, including K-12 organizations--expanding the company's original pilot program from a select group of universities.
Of note, the announcements tied up a loose end introduced in Walter Isaacson's biography of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, which included details about textbooks being on Jobs' to-do list ahead of his death. Jobs had told Isaacson that he wanted to take textbooks digital, and tie them to the iPad--two things that came to pass with this week's unveilings.
Read on for more on this, as well as the rest of this week's Apple-related news.
Apple Talk Weekly is a collection of some of the week's top Apple news and rumors. It appears every Saturday, and is curated by CNET's Apple reporter, Josh Lowensohn.
At its education-themed event, Apple took the wraps off iBooks 2, a software update to its eBook reader application. Among the new features is support for textbooks, which Apple now sells from its built-in iBookstore. Unlike normal books, textbooks support 3D objects, image galleries, and widgets. There's also a study card feature that lets you quiz yourself on text that's been highlighted from inside the books.
Along with the new iBooks, Apple updated iTunes U, its distribution tool that gives educators a way to publish course lectures and other digital materials. Apple gave the service its own iOS app for iPhones, iPods, and iPads, as well as opening it up to K-12 schools to use. Apple also integrated it with textbooks stored in iBooks with iTunes U, so that notes get synced over.
iTunes Match rolls out to 19 additional countries
Apple this week expanded the number of countries that have access to iTunes Match, the feature that scans a user's iTunes library and matches up tracks with what the company has in its online store. As noted by Apple Insider, those countries include the Netherlands, and countries in Europe and Latin America. All told, the service is now available in 37 countries.
That slightly creepy action figure of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was canceled this week, with its creator bowing to "immense pressure from the lawyers of Apple and Steve Jobs [sic] family." The figure made waves earlier this month for being one of the most detailed depictions of Jobs yet, so detailed in fact, that it reportedly sparked the ire of Apple's lawyers, who sent a cease-and-desist note. Previous attempts at Jobs figures by other companies have met similar fates.
Apple this week filed suit against Samsung Electronics in Germany, taking aim at the sale of its smartphones in the country. Readers might remember that Apple has already taken this path in Germany, seeking a ban on Samsung's tablet products. This particular suit targets 10 of Samsung's smartphone models, including the Galaxy S II and Galaxy S Plus.
Apple shelves long-running $100 printer rebate program
If you were looking to get some cash back when buying a printer from an Apple store, those days are over. This week Apple ended its long-running $100 printer rebate program. As spotted by MacRumors, the program that would give Apple customers who bought a printer with their Mac a $100 rebate, ended January 17, with Apple failing to renew the deal after the deadline passed.
Citing an Asian supplier and "a source in United States," Japanese Apple blog Macotakara this week said that Apple is cooking up a special event in "early February" to take the wraps off its next iPad, with a formal launch of the product taking place sometime the following month. The move would be yet another step in bringing the iPad's release closer to the holiday season, a possible move to curb buyers who might hold off on buying iPads as gifts with expectations of a new model arriving in the first part of the new year.
Taiwanese news site DigiTimes this week claimed that Sharp and LG Display are set to churn out 6 million to 7 million 9.7-inch QXGA panels in the next two and a half months, bumping that number up to 10 million produced during the second quarter. Meanwhile, production of iPad 2 panels is said to be tapering, with iPad 3 panel production set to outpace it in the second quarter.
Apple store headed to London's Harrods?
Citing "sources within the Harrods Company," 9to5Mac this week claimed that Apple is looking to install a store-within-a-store concept inside of the famous London department store. The blog said the Apple setup won't include a Genius Bar, but will be larger than most of the company's other store-within-a-store offerings.