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Apple releases iBooks 1.3 with new read-aloud feature for children's books

post #1 of 26
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Apple on Tuesday released iBooks 1.3, an update for its iOS-based e-reading software, adding a new read-aloud feature that uses a real narrator to read some children's books.

iBooks is a free application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The free 15.3MB download (iTunes link) is available in the App Store. It requires iOS 3.2 or later.

The full list of what's new in iBooks 1.3, according to Apple, includes:
Help your children learn to read with the new read-aloud feature included in select children's books from the iBookstore.
The read-aloud feature uses a real narrator to read the book to you, and in some books, it will even highlight the words as you read along.
Enhanced books can now automatically play audio or video included with the book.
Makes iBooks more responsive when opening very long books.
Addresses an issue where some books may display the same page twice.
post #2 of 26
nice i hope i can buy a non-audio book now for my MBP

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post #3 of 26
Sounds good. The read-along feature, combined with text highlighting could be a great teaching tool.

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post #4 of 26
Wow, nice features! I won't be using them much at all (if ever), but it's good to see Apple casting as wide a net as possible with the iBookstore. Way to go!
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by yensid98 View Post

Wow, nice features! I won't be using them much at all (if ever), but it's good to see Apple casting as wide a net as possible with the iBookstore. Way to go!

I have not been able to find any e-books cheaper on iBooks than on Amazon (Kindle for iPhone app). This may make it a little more worthwhile but for instance when a Kindle book is $26.39 and the same iBook is $47.99 it is going to have to offer a lot more to make up the difference.
post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulk001 View Post

I have not been able to find any e-books cheaper on iBooks than on Amazon (Kindle for iPhone app). This may make it a little more worthwhile but for instance when a Kindle book is $26.39 and the same iBook is $47.99 it is going to have to offer a lot more to make up the difference.

Yes, if an identical e-book product is available on both platforms, I'll go with the cheaper one.

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post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple on Tuesday released iBooks 1.3, an update for its iOS-based e-reading software, adding a new read-aloud feature that uses a real narrator to read some children's books.

So, any idea which books this works with?
post #8 of 26
I'm guessing this is the same as the Read to Me books in the B&N Nook app? I think Mel Gross had mentioned he used that app on his iPad, so he (or someone else) might know if the read aloud feature only works on Android or on iOS devices too.
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post #9 of 26
This is a terrific feature addition! Does anyone know what is required to produce read-aloud titles for iBooks? (PS this feature isn't only suitable for children's books) Do I need to buy into the Mac developer program?
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I'm guessing this is the same as the Read to Me books in the B&N Nook app? I think Mel Gross had mentioned he used that app on his iPad, so he (or someone else) might know if the read aloud feature only works on Android or on iOS devices too.

I'll do a check to see if there any API for this in the iOS SDK.

We, as a family, read together 2-3 times a week -- we each have an iPad and can follow along as each takes a turn reading aloud.

Sunday, we read "The Shooting of Dan McGrew".

Instead of taking turns, I found a narration by Jean Shepherd -- he read aloud to us (from the AppleTV) while we followed along on our iPads.

The Shooting of Dan McGrew

This was a great experience -- but it made me wonder if it could be improved by somehow synchronizing the audio with the book.

We often pause during a reading to discuss the meaning, emphasis, etc. It was a little tricky juggling the ATV remote and an iPad.

In this story, we each took turns trying to say "Dangerous Dan McGrew" as snarky as possible -- kinda' like Jerry Seinfeld saying "Hello, Newman".
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post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Yes, if an identical e-book product is available on both platforms, I'll go with the cheaper one.

Depends. I buy books that are a part of a series. It's too much of a pain to keep track of them if they're spread amongst three book sellers apps. Once I start to buy them from one store, I stay with it, usually for all that author's books.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I'm guessing this is the same as the Read to Me books in the B&N Nook app? I think Mel Gross had mentioned he used that app on his iPad, so he (or someone else) might know if the read aloud feature only works on Android or on iOS devices too.

My daughter's too old for that nowadays. I haven't looked into it, but if you want, I will. Let me know here.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

My daughter's too old for that nowadays. I haven't looked into it, but if you want, I will. Let me know here.

If you don't mind Mel.

I checked one on my wife's Nook (something about Elephants) and it looks like a nice feature for the little ones.
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post #14 of 26
For those that aren't aware of it -- there is a wealth of free books out there at:

Gutenberg.org

Most of these come in both ePub (iBook) and Kindle format.


Also, if you run across some text that you want "publish" into iBook format, the Mac Pages app can export in ePub format -- including images, etc.

My 15-year-old granddaughter "wrote," and had us group read, an iBook to try to sell the family on spending $500 to attend NASCAR this summer at Infineon... Nice effort, but the jury's still out.
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post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

If you don't mind Mel.

I checked one on my wife's Nook (something about Elephants) and it looks like a nice feature for the little ones.

It's the B&N Nook Kids App that has kid books with Read To Me. Careful though...it ONLY seems to work for books that are marked Read To Me and not the ones marked Read and Play which I think work on the NC.
post #16 of 26
Slightly off topic but... Still no iBooks reader for the Mac!
-No syncing of books or bookmarks/highlighting etc. across your Mac and all other devices... This is pretty frustrating.

I'm often reading when I'm out (on my iPad) and at other times I want to continue reading the same book on a Mac in the office. And with no syncing on the Mac I have to resort to reading the same book as a pdf. No bookmarks, no save point, no highlighting etc. Very annoying.

This is so unlike Apple not to have this covered. Kindle has an app for the Mac and with full syncing across devices. Come on Apple wake up! Get it done.

Am I the only one that has this issue?
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

For those that aren't aware of it -- there is a wealth of free books out there at:

Gutenberg.org

Most of these come in both ePub (iBook) and Kindle format.


Also, if you run across some text that you want "publish" into iBook format, the Mac Pages app can export in ePub format -- including images, etc.

My 15-year-old granddaughter "wrote," and had us group read, an iBook to try to sell the family on spending $500 to attend NASCAR this summer at Infineon... Nice effort, but the jury's still out.

Yes, this is a great resource. I've tucked a few "books" away for future reading from there.

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post #18 of 26
Nice...

now maybe Apple can work at getting books on the local iBookstore. A selection of 'out of copyright' books does not cut the mustard. While they are at it, maybe some TV shows in itunes.
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post #19 of 26
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Originally Posted by mrMiaggi View Post

-No syncing of books or bookmarks/highlighting etc. across your Mac and all other devices...

ibooks syncs across devices, but not to the mac
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post #20 of 26
It's good that they have pro narrators instead of a computer voice.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post

ibooks syncs across devices, but not to the mac

yes i know. But not to the Mac (because there's no iBooks app for the Mac!) so there's no continuity in reading. Apple does a great job with user-experience but they've dropped the ball on that one.
post #22 of 26
Does anyone have a list of how much of the which ePub specification iBooks fully supports?

That list would be more interesting to me.

http://idpf.org/epub3_proposed_spec_released

Quote:
EPUB 3 Proposed Specification Released
MAY 23, 2011
New York, NY, May 23, 2011 (PRESS RELEASE) - The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) today announced that EPUB® 3 is now a Proposed Specification for final member and public review. EPUB, an XML and Web Standards based format developed by the IDPF, has become a key global standard in the rapidly developing digital publishing industry, enabling digital books and publications to be portable across devices and reading systems. EPUB 3 is a major revision of the standard that aligns EPUB with HTML5 and adds support for key emerging requirements including video, audio, interactivity, vertical writing and other global language capabilities, improved accessibility, MathML, and styling and layout enhancements.

"EPUB 3 is by far the most significant advance in the over ten year history of the IDPF," said George Kerscher, President, IDPF and Secretary-General, DAISY Consortium. "In just one year, IDPF member organizations and invited experts, from around the world, have significantly enhanced all aspects of this standard. I’m particularly delighted that EPUB 3 marks the mainstreaming of accessibility capabilities within the universal commercial digital publication format standard –now every eBook can be a fully accessible eBook."

"EPUB 3 is a remarkable accomplishment" said Bill McCoy, Executive Director of the IDPF. "But much work remains to fulfill the promise of EPUB as the universal digital publication interchange and delivery format, and as we finalize EPUB 3 in the coming months the IDPF will deliver validation tools, samples, and best practices guidelines, and build on our momentum by continuing to advance the standard."

EPUB 3 has been in active development since May, 2010. This IDPF Proposed Specification, available at http://idpf.org/epub/30, is intended for member and public review and deployment by early implementers. It is anticipated that EPUB 3 will become a final IDPF Recommended Specification later this summer.

Publishing industry stakeholders are already enthusiastic about the new capabilities that EPUB 3 will deliver (see attached quote sheet). At the IDPF Digital Book 2011 conference today and tomorrow at BookExpo America, several sessions will showcase new EPUB 3 capabilities and discuss the EPUB 3 and the future of the EPUB standard.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrMiaggi View Post

yes i know. But not to the Mac (because there's no iBooks app for the Mac!) so there's no continuity in reading. Apple does a great job with user-experience but they've dropped the ball on that one.


The Mac doesn't need an iBooks application. The Mac needs Preview.app to be updated/extended to fully support the ePub 3.0 format, along with the ISO changes to PDF 2.0.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portabl...Format#PDF_2.0

Then one could test all their ePub/PDF docs before publishing to the iBook Store without the need to test on the iPad or iPhone directly. They just need to add a Debug Mode for Document processing inside Preview which would be a big win on their part.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Does anyone have a list of how much of the which ePub specification iBooks fully supports?

That list would be more interesting to me.

http://idpf.org/epub3_proposed_spec_released

Yeah, such as when or if they are ever going to support something as basic as custom fonts. It is a real pain to make eBooks for the iPad when they don't follow the standards.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

If you don't mind Mel.

I checked one on my wife's Nook (something about Elephants) and it looks like a nice feature for the little ones.

I just spent some time looking, but I can't find a way to tell if a book is a speaking book. I tried to type several different phrases and words, but in checking the results, none of the books, as far as I could tell, were speaking books. It would be nice if there was a category for them, as there are supposed to be books that will do this.

Right now, it seems that unless you already know of a title like this, you're going to be frustrated.

My daughter grew up with the Mac, and we bought her many talking books that ran on it when she was very young, such as "Grandma and Me". I'm convinced that this was one of the reasons why she started reading regular books shortly after her third birthday. We had also bought her the D&K dictionary, which she memorized in one day.

Of course, the fact that she saw us reading much of the time was an influence as well.
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

For those that aren't aware of it -- there is a wealth of free books out there at:

Gutenberg.org

Most of these come in both ePub (iBook) and Kindle format.


Also, if you run across some text that you want "publish" into iBook format, the Mac Pages app can export in ePub format -- including images, etc.

My 15-year-old granddaughter "wrote," and had us group read, an iBook to try to sell the family on spending $500 to attend NASCAR this summer at Infineon... Nice effort, but the jury's still out.

Yes, it's great. Been using it for years.

There's also the Google project of scanned books. I've got a lot of those as well. Google goes it differently. Where the Gutenberg project relies on people to OCR, edit and format the books, Google just scans the pages, including the covers, and every single blank page. The book is a PDF. But it's a scanned PDF, and runs tens of MB's in size. I've got lots of microscope and machinery books from the early 20th century, going all the way back to the early 18th century.

In addition, there are fantastic books about past times written in the actual time, that are now history books. I've gotten a much better idea of how people felt back in earlier times by people writing about them when history was being made. We'd be surprised at how they thought.
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