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Apple expected to release tool for interactive textbooks at NYC event on Thursday

post #1 of 29
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As Apple's education-related media event on Thursday approaches, multiple reports are claiming that the company could announce an initiative to help textbook makers produce interactive ebooks for the iPad, with some sources calling the initiative "Garageband for e-books."

Reports of an Apple event in New York City set to take place later this month emerged several weeks ago. The company then sent out invitations for the gathering last week, noting that it would entail an "education announcement in the Big Apple."

ArsTechnica reported on Monday that its sources are claiming Apple will release a simple app that makes standards-compliant e-book publishing as easy as recording a song in GarageBand. The tool is believed to be much-needed, as several authors told the publication that they are frustrated by the current state of the industry.

According to the report, some industry executives are also confident that Apple will likely unveil a textbook publishing tool this week. Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis, who worked on education projects at Apple before leaving to focus on interactive e-books, voiced his belief that a textbook app from Apple is in the works.

"When you think about what Apple is doing... they are selling tens of thousands of iPads into K-12 institutions," MacInnis said. "What are they doing with those iPads? They don't really replace textbooks, because there's not very much content on offer."




The executive clarified that he doesn't believe the content will come directly from Apple. The Cupertino, Calif., company will instead likely provide content production tools, similar to its own Logic or Final Cut Pro software, the report noted.

"Publishing something to ePub is very similar to publishing web content. Remember iWeb? That iWeb code didn't just get flushed down the toilet—I think you'll see some of [that code] repurposed," MacInnis said.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had intimated to biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted to revolutionize textbooks ArsTechnica's sources said Jobs had worked on the project for years. The plans were reportedly set to be announced last October, but they were postponed at the last minute because of Jobs' failing health.

The Wall Street Journal corroborated on Tuesday some of ArsTechnica's claims, but it didn't go into specifics.

"The company is expected to unveil textbooks optimized for the iPad and that feature ways to interact with the content, as well as partnerships with publishers," the report read.

A person familiar with the matter told the Journal that Apple had been working with publisher McGraw-Hill on the announcement since June. Cengage Learning, a textbook publisher that has partnered with Apple before, will also be in attendance on Thursday, but the company declined to reveal what part it will play in the event.

"Apple today clearly has a strong position in hardware, and companies like Cengage Learning have a very strong position on the content side," Bill Rieders, Cengage's executive vice president of global strategy and business development. "To the extent there's a combination there, that could be exciting."

Earlier reports characterized Apple's plans for Thursday as "publishing industry-oriented" news, noting that major consumer-related announcements from the company are not expected.
post #2 of 29
As a prof currently writing a science/engineering textbook -- please let this not only be true, but (finally) include proper tools for publishing things other than fiction-style text-only documents!
post #3 of 29
An Apple 'Garageband for books'...I'd love to be a fly on the wall at Adobe this week.
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post #4 of 29
I read what a commenter said about this on another site and that what Apple might be doing is nothing special since there are companies that have been trying to create electronic textbooks for years like the Kno company. I believe if Apple can offer less expensive iPads for schools and also create some tools to get textbooks on to them, they could have a huge advantage over other tablet ecosystems. iTunes U is a fantastic learning tool for collaboration and I always thought it was too low-key considering the knowledge available for free.

Apple could really put a hurt to Amazon's Kindle readers when it comes to education. I was always wondering why Apple never designed its own eReader that would compete against the Kindle eReaders. It does seem like a very useful technology with long battery life. Maybe it's just too limited for Apple's use. I'd love to see Apple take control of the educational sector with some great hardware and software learning tools and take back what they lost to Microsoft years ago.
post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by aestival View Post

As a prof currently writing a science/engineering textbook -- please let this not only be true, but (finally) include proper tools for publishing things other than fiction-style text-only documents!

I figure it would leverage Apple's "iAd producer." So that means HTML 5 and CSS 3.

So multimedia and scripting are a given.

Depending on whether Apple makes the software tools slick and easy is if this takes off or not.

>> On the HUGE upside, if their teaching platform takes off it will mean that 3rd party companies can also improve on the platform, because MOST of it will be using standard technology and file formats available to everyone. Apple just wants it to be on their platform.


I've been hoping for Apple to drop the other shoe on their multimedia usage of HTML5. They've been likely working on a "Flash Killer" so that iOS doesn't need another layer of junk slowing down the processor and using battery power.

>> That's why I highly doubt it will be something proprietary -- Apple has gotten that bug out of their systems (at least with development). To leverage iOS it's going to either be Objective C (too low-level) or the Web standards.

>> So Multimedia and every bang and whistle are a given -- it all depends on how well they make it easy for an instructor to create a multimedia training tool. And I figure they've got all sorts of tech to do that.
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by aestival View Post

As a prof currently writing a science/engineering textbook -- please let this not only be true, but (finally) include proper tools for publishing things other than fiction-style text-only documents!

I lecture in university in a technical field. I too hope beyond hope that Apple introduces a package as intimated. I've used an iPad for tutorial presentations but my MBP for lectures due to the eclectic nature of my demonstrations etc. This likely wouldn't change but would probably be impacted by developments.

I have a short story on iBooks to which I applied only the most basic formatting. Having greater expectations would have been quite frustrating, though there are features in iBooks that I like.

I am reading 'A New Kind of Science' by Steven Wolfram. This publication is in the form of an application, probably because of the formatting control Wolfram required but doesn't feature some of the nice controls available under iBooks. This might now change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

An Apple 'Garageband for books'...I'd love to be a fly on the wall at Adobe this week.

Mmmm... .pdf has been a brilliant vehicle for Apple (and others where they chose to use it). Time for a revolution perhaps... \
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post #7 of 29
Oh, and please enhance iBooks or make a new app that eases taking notes during lectures...
post #8 of 29
I think the key to make the new book format successful is interaction.
An easy way to produce interactive learning would be fantastic. And if Apple provided us with a bunch of easy to implement templates and guidelines so that authors actually start using the interactivity, then we have a great platform.
post #9 of 29
I hope it makes designing multimedia, programmed instructional texts where the reader answers questions after reading a small piece of information and gets immediate feedback for positive reinforcement dead easy. Trying to do it on Authorware, Director and iShell was a real pain.
post #10 of 29
The same week that Wikipedia turns off for a day, Apple introduces a tool for making a new kind of textbook.
post #11 of 29
I know, again another piece from the biography. Can't help it, great book. It's long, but interesting nonetheless.

Jobs had an easier time with Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owned the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, newspapers around the world, Fox Studios, and the Fox News Channel. When Jobs met with Murdoch and his team, they also pressed the case that they should share ownership of the subscribers that came in through the App Store. But when Jobs refused, something interesting happened. Murdoch is not known as a pushover, but he knew that he did not have the leverage on this issue, so he accepted Jobs’s terms. “We would prefer to own the subscribers, and we pushed for that,” recalled Murdoch. “But Steve wouldn’t do a deal on those terms, so I said, ‘Okay, let’s get on with it.’ We didn’t see any reason to mess around. He wasn’t going to bend—and I wouldn’t have bent if I were in his position—so I just said yes.”

Murdoch even launched a digital-only daily newspaper, The Daily, tailored specifically for the iPad. It would be sold in the App Store, on the terms dictated by Jobs, at 99 cents a week. Murdoch himself took a team to Cupertino to show the proposed design. Not surprisingly, Jobs hated it. “Would you allow our designers to help?” he asked. Murdoch accepted. “The Apple designers had a crack at it,” Murdoch recalled, “and our folks went back and had another crack, and ten days later we went back and showed them both, and he actually liked our team’s version better. It stunned us.”

The Daily, which was neither tabloidy nor serious, but instead a rather midmarket product like USA Today, was not very successful. But it did help create an odd-couple bonding between Jobs and Murdoch. When Murdoch asked him to speak at his June 2010 News Corp. annual management retreat, Jobs made an exception to his rule of never doing such appearances. James Murdoch led him in an after-dinner interview that lasted almost two hours. “He was very blunt and critical of what newspapers were doing in technology,” Murdoch recalled. “He told us we were going to find it hard to get things right, because you’re in New York, and anyone who’s any good at tech works in Silicon Valley.” This did not go down very well with the president of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, Gordon McLeod, who pushed back a bit. At the end, McLeod came up to Jobs and said, “Thanks, it was a wonderful evening, but you probably just cost me my job.” Murdoch chuckled a bit when he described the scene to me. “It ended up being true,” he said. McLeod was out within three months.

In return for speaking at the retreat, Jobs got Murdoch to hear him out on Fox News, which he believed was destructive, harmful to the nation, and a blot on Murdoch’s reputation. “You’re blowing it with Fox News,” Jobs told him over dinner. “The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people. Fox has become an incredibly destructive force in our society. You can be better, and this is going to be your legacy if you’re not careful.” Jobs said he thought Murdoch did not really like how far Fox had gone. “Rupert’s a builder, not a tearer-downer,” he said. “I’ve had some meetings with James, and I think he agrees with me. I can just tell.”
Murdoch later said he was used to people like Jobs complaining about Fox. “He’s got sort of a left-wing view on this,” he said. Jobs asked him to have his folks make a reel of a week of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck shows—he thought that they were more destructive than Bill O’Reilly—and Murdoch agreed to do so. Jobs later told me that he was going to ask Jon Stewart’s team to put together a similar reel for Murdoch to watch. “I’d be happy to see it,” Murdoch said, “but he hasn’t sent it to me.”

Murdoch and Jobs hit it off well enough that Murdoch went to his Palo Alto house for dinner twice more during the next year. Jobs joked that he had to hide the dinner knives on such occasions, because he was afraid that his liberal wife was going to eviscerate Murdoch when he walked in. For his part, Murdoch was reported to have uttered a great line about the organic vegan dishes typically served: “Eating dinner at Steve’s is a great experience, as long as you get out before the local restaurants close.” Alas, when I asked Murdoch if he had ever said that, he didn’t recall it.

One visit came early in 2011. Murdoch was due to pass through Palo Alto on February 24, and he texted Jobs to tell him so. He didn’t know it was Jobs’s fifty-sixth birthday, and Jobs didn’t mention it when he texted back inviting him to dinner. “It was my way of making sure Laurene didn’t veto the plan,” Jobs joked. “It was my birthday, so she had to let me have Rupert over.” Erin and Eve were there, and Reed jogged over from Stanford near the end of the dinner. Jobs showed off the designs for his planned boat, which Murdoch thought looked beautiful on the inside but “a bit plain” on the outside. “It certainly shows great optimism about his health that he was talking so much about building it,” Murdoch later said.
At dinner they talked about the importance of infusing an entrepreneurial and nimble culture into a company. Sony failed to do that, Murdoch said. Jobs agreed. “I used to believe that a really big company couldn’t have a clear corporate culture,” Jobs said. “But I now believe it can be done. Murdoch’s done it. I think I’ve done it at Apple.”

Most of the dinner conversation was about education. Murdoch had just hired Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, to start a digital curriculum division. Murdoch recalled that Jobs was somewhat dismissive of the idea that technology could transform education. But Jobs agreed with Murdoch that the paper textbook business would be blown away by digital learning materials.

In fact Jobs had his sights set on textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform. He believed it was an $8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction. He was also struck by the fact that many schools, for security reasons, don’t have lockers, so kids have to lug a heavy backpack around. “The iPad would solve that,” he said. His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple. “The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” he said. “But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”
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post #12 of 29
Many of us have been pleading for an HTML5 web content creation tools for the web from Apple for a long time. I wonder if this might have a web deployment side to it as wells for stand alone items.
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post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Many of us have been pleading for an HTML5 web content creation tools for the web from Apple for a long time. I wonder if this might have a web deployment side to it as wells for stand alone items.

I read somewhere that HTML5/CSS/JS (and likely SQLite) is too difficult for most authors/creatives to use.

If you think about it -- A really dynamic, interactive, "live" textbook/reading experience would be very similar to a well-crafted data/content-driven web site. One that would be fully functional off-line, but could take advantage of connectivity (within the classroom, campus or greater community including the Internet).

How do you make that easy and attractive to an author?

Some have suggested an iWeb on steroids...

Maybe a better approach would be to start with something like Keynote and work backwards from results to source.

Edit: I am struck with the similarities between movie-making (story-telling) and what some perceive as these new textbooks...

Mmmm...

Could you create a "live" textbook to teach Photoshop, or even better Final Cut -- where the text could interactively explain and demonstrate FCP -- Then allow the reader to call up an FCP Service (within the textbook) to experiment with the topics under discussion...
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post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

I read somewhere that HTML5/CSS/JS (and likely SQLite) is too difficult for most authors/creatives to use.

If you think about it -- A really dynamic, interactive, "live" textbook/reading experience would be very similar to a well-crafted data/content-driven web site. One that would be fully functional off-line, but could take advantage of connectivity (within the classroom, campus or greater community including the Internet).

How do you make that easy and attractive to an author?

Some have suggested an iWeb on steroids...

Maybe a better approach would be to start with something like Keynote and work backwards from results to source.

Edit: I am struck with the similarities between movie-making (story-telling) and what some perceive as these new textbooks...

Mmmm...

Could you create a "live" textbook to teach Photoshop, or even better Final Cut -- where the text could interactively explain and demonstrate FCP -- Then allow the reader to call up an FCP Service (within the textbook) to experiment with the topics under discussion...

Your second paragraph was exactly what I was thinking ... if this app or suit of apps from Apple can do that, we may have a game changing web development tool. As to how you make that easy for the author? This is Apple we are talking about

One thing is for sure, what ever it is Google were just about to release the same thing for Android ... in a few months ...
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post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Your second paragraph was exactly what I was thinking ... if this app or suit of apps from Apple can do that, we may have a game changing web development tool. As to how you make that easy for the author? This is Apple we are talking about

One thing is for sure, what ever it is Google were just about to release the same thing for Android ... in a few months ...

SOT...

Did you ever read the Time/Life series of books of days of yesteryear?

Each book was a colorfull, well-written "instruction" on a topic such as Mathematics.

These books had an unusual format that I really liked -- but seldom see anywhere else.

The main body of each page contained the ongoing development of the topic, much as any textbook.

The outside margin of many pages would have some little snippets -- each, a self-contained story-within-a-story that concisely supported the main text... An aside, if you will.

I found that if I wanted in-depth knowledge that I would read both the main text and the margin snippets -- the latter provided a welcome change of pace and reinforcement.

However, you could just skim through reading the margin snippets -- you would become totally immersed in the series of [really] short stories.

I really enjoyed doing this to take my mind off of something... Like a hangover

I wonder if something like this could be used, today, in a textbook or web site. I suspect that most of us have conditioned ourselves to block out side-issues as irritating and unnecessary distractions.

Sigh... More's the pity!
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post #16 of 29
I wonder if this announcement will be related in some way to the app/eBook by Al Gore called 'Our Choice'?
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by pauldfullerton View Post

I wonder if this announcement will be related in some way to the app/eBook by Al Gore called 'Our Choice'?

Trying to derail the thread?
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post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

An Apple 'Garageband for books'...I'd love to be a fly on the wall at Adobe this week.

Come to think of it, Quark has invested significantly into iPad publishing as well (though more for the magazine market than straight books.)

Modern textbooks have diagrams, illustrations, photos, quotes and timelines.
If Apple's new solution can really do all that, Apple may upend the entire DTP market on Thursday.
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post #19 of 29
Roll over Gutenberg, and tell Rupe Murdoch the news.
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

I think the key to make the new book format successful is interaction.
An easy way to produce interactive learning would be fantastic. And if Apple provided us with a bunch of easy to implement templates and guidelines so that authors actually start using the interactivity, then we have a great platform.

I agree interaction is key. Here's a perfect example: https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?v=336268213050627
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

I know, again another piece from the biography. Can't help it, great book. It's long, but interesting nonetheless.

[ . . . ]

In return for speaking at the retreat, Jobs got Murdoch to hear him out on Fox News, which he believed was destructive, harmful to the nation, and a blot on Murdoch’s reputation. “You’re blowing it with Fox News,” Jobs told him over dinner. “The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people. Fox has become an incredibly destructive force in our society. You can be better, and this is going to be your legacy if you’re not careful.” Jobs said he thought Murdoch did not really like how far Fox had gone. “Rupert’s a builder, not a tearer-downer,” he said. “I’ve had some meetings with James, and I think he agrees with me. I can just tell.”
Murdoch later said he was used to people like Jobs complaining about Fox. “He’s got sort of a left-wing view on this,” he said. Jobs asked him to have his folks make a reel of a week of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck shows—he thought that they were more destructive than Bill O’Reilly—and Murdoch agreed to do so. Jobs later told me that he was going to ask Jon Stewart’s team to put together a similar reel for Murdoch to watch. “I’d be happy to see it,” Murdoch said, “but he hasn’t sent it to me.”

Murdoch and Jobs hit it off well enough that Murdoch went to his Palo Alto house for dinner twice more during the next year.

[ . . . ]

Most of the dinner conversation was about education. Murdoch had just hired Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, to start a digital curriculum division. Murdoch recalled that Jobs was somewhat dismissive of the idea that technology could transform education. But Jobs agreed with Murdoch that the paper textbook business would be blown away by digital learning materials.

In fact Jobs had his sights set on textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform. He believed it was an $8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction. He was also struck by the fact that many schools, for security reasons, don’t have lockers, so kids have to lug a heavy backpack around. “The iPad would solve that,” he said. His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple. “The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” he said. “But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”

Thanks for quoting these parts where Steve is trying to educate Rupert in how to be constructive rather than destructive. If you want to be a destroyer, aim at obsolete technologies like textbooks, not at society in general.

Edit: The next-to-last paragraph just got my attention. News Corp doing digital textbooks? Lovers of truth had better get busy. Maybe this iText initiative will head them off.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

I agree interaction is key. Here's a perfect example: https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?v=336268213050627

Flash is required? They gotta be kidding. I thought you were more stelligent than that. : )
post #23 of 29
As an academician and long time computer user, I also hope for content delivery tools. However, I don't think they need to be all that glitzy, in terms of functionality. Moving from traditional print media to new media does not require all of the interactivity and things folks are talking about. In fact, it never did really catch on, i.e. when CDROMS first came out, there were all sorts of dictionaries and things with video and interactivity - never took off. Fast forward 20 years, there was this magazine for iPad that was interactive with videos etc. "The Daily" - it has not done well. Simple blogs on the internet (text only for the most part) do well, and they could have more fancy interactive stuff, if the author had enough time, or wanted to do. Almost certainly, it would make those blogs less popular. Folks are not ready, still.

It is a lot of work to create good content, and even without interactive features, it can be great in the digital realm, with just simple things like click on a word to get the definition etc. I also do not see the first iteration being a huge jump into e-learning interactive presentations-like content. That is a huge about of work to create well, and is best as a supplement to a well written concise text.

Currently, it is a pain to publish even simple textbooks digitally (compared to print), and the added cost of porting to a digital realm (incl. Apple's or Amazon's cut) **can be much more expensive** than printing and distribution the old way. And it is not yet the time when the print version can be skipped, maybe soon!?

So, just a great authoring tool that is simple and efficient to use for porting existing and new texts to the digital realm in a way that the content is easily read, highlighted, underlined, and pages dogeared for quick reference, that is what we need (iBook has most of the features, but is not for creation).

I look forward to Thursday, and hope Apple did not bite off more than it can chew, like was done with iAds...
post #24 of 29
It's going to be interesting to see the scope of the solution for sure.

Once you have an easy-to-use, standards compliant tool for electronic publishing, you are one step away from saving your work as a PDF for print publishing. You are - at the same time - one step away from porting that content to a Wordpress (or other CMS) web site solution.

Apple has been running away from the Pro market, but it's still fascinating to think they could end up in direct competition (partially anyway) with Dreamweaver and InDesign.
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post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by applestockholder View Post

As an academician and long time computer user, I also hope for content delivery tools. However, I don't think they need to be all that glitzy.... Simple blogs on the internet (text only for the most part) do well, and they could have more fancy interactive stuff, if the author had enough time, or wanted to do. Almost certainly, it would make those blogs less popular. Folks are not ready, still....


+1
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post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

“The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” he said. “But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”

- It's not "certify", it's "adoption".
- Only half the states are Adoption States, mostly in the south and west, but it includes California, Texas and Florida which are the three biggest buyers of textbooks, so in traditional el-hi textbook publishing, whatever those states want (or don't want), the whole country gets.
- Adoption is only at the K-12 level and only public schools - it has nothing to do with college texts.
- I'm not sure that making the textbooks free would get around the adoption process. The adoption committees are highly political and they're not going to give up that power easily.
- I don't know how Apple would produce free textbooks. That's not in the interest of either the educatonal publishers or even textbook authors.
- The rumors seem to indicate this is about college publishing, not el-hi publishing.
- A Garage Band type tool to produce interactive textbooks would be great, but I don't believe it's going to be enough for the academic publishers - it seems to me they would need a more professional tool tied to an asset management system, since much of the business they now find themselves in is the development of custom textbooks, where professor want a chapter from one textbook, another chapter from another, etc.
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

I agree interaction is key. Here's a perfect example: https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?v=336268213050627

To funny! And took only 26 seconds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Flash is required? They gotta be kidding. I thought you were more stelligent than that. : )

My Safari says html5, and worked flawlessly...
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post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

To funny! And took only 26 seconds



My Safari says html5, and worked flawlessly...

Too not funny. It tells my iPad that I need to update my Flash Player.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Too not funny. It tells my iPad that I need to update my Flash Player.

Not funny at all, no. Strange; I thought if It reads HTML over the video it would work, well, with HTML. Apparently not so with Facebook. I really don't like Facebook, but to each his own. Did smile when I tapped on the Install Flash button over at Adobe:

Thank you for your interest in Adobe Flash Player. Unfortunately Apple does not allow Flash Player to be installed on iPhone or iPad.

Try this YouTube link instead:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl4dh...e_gdata_player
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