Apple's education announcement: what you need to know

Today's education event was a reasonably small one, so far as Apple pressers go, held at the Guggenheim museum in New York City, with a smattering of media representatives in attendance. It arrives on the tails of some already hearty numbers for the company, including the existence of 20,000 learning-themed apps and 1.5 million iPads currently in use for education. But Cupertino's plans for the future of learning are grand indeed, including the desire to "reinvent the textbook" via iBooks 2. And while our expectations weren't particularly grandiose going into this morning, we were, indeed, pretty impressed with what we saw. So, what did you miss if you happened to sleep in late today? Find out, after the break.

iBooks 2

The second coming of iBooks marks a much larger push toward education for Apple's already crazy-popular tablet. Apple showed off a few of the new titles, letting us get some hands-on time at the event. Titles are already available in iTunes, priced at an attractive $14.99 and below -- the size of the books is a little less appealing, however, ranging from 800MB to 2.77GB, at present, so you might want to pick up a few iPads to dump in your backpack.

iBooks Author

So, those fancy new textbooks are all well and good, but how are they actually made? iBooks Author, of course! This is an Apple product, of course, so the key here is ease-of-use, making it possible to simply drag-and-drop things like images, videos and Word files onto templates. We spent some hands-on time with the app, and indeed, it's every bit as simple and impressive as the company made it out to be. Once you're done, you can publish your book for free (pending Apple's infamous approval process) and charge up to $14.99 for the thing.

iTunes U

Apple has already had a note of success with iTunes U, with more than 700 million downloads. The service, which has primarily been used to offer up lectures, is getting its own app. We spent some hands on time with it, and just like everything else we played with today, we liked what we saw. Dive in and you'll get a syllabus, teacher bio and a course description and overview. You can get assignments here, bringing you to specific parts of your textbook. you can also keep tabs on homework and course material, and highlight and take notes on texts.