Apple Points To iPad & iBooks In 2,500 U.S. Classrooms, Reaffirms Commitment To Education With Updated iBooks Author

There’s been plenty of buzz about the iPad mini and the potential role in could play in reaffirming Apple’s commitment education, and now CEO Tim Cook is spending some time on stage to discuss the sort of impact immensely-popular tablet has had in schools. After noting that the iPad (and iBooks) has now found a home in 2500 classrooms in the U.S., Cook revealed that a new version of the company’s iBooks Author will be available for free starting today.

Like the iBooks app update before it, the additions here are relatively minor — there are a handful of new templates to choose from and customize, and wannabe textbook creators can now choose their own fonts when laying out pages of text and content. More importantly for the mathematically-inclined is the ability to pop mathematical express and equations directly onto a page without having to cobble them together ahead of time.

Of course, the major draw of iBooks textbooks (and arguably the iPad as a whole) is the sense of magic that comes with simple, thoughtful interaction. To that end, Apple has also fleshed out iBooks Author with support for multitouch widgets, letting readers of all ages dive deeper into their educational content. Cook noted that iBooks textbooks were available for 80% of the U.S. high school core curriculum, adding dryly that it was enough to make you wish you were a kid again. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but there’s little question that devices like the iPad have begun to worm their way into academia in earnest — a prospect that should only be helped by the announcement of the long-awaited iPad mini.