This morning at New York City's Guggenheim Museum, Apple announced the launch of its iBooks 2 for iPad system. The technology is intended to replace traditional paper school textbooks with interactive digital textbooks, that students would access on their own personal iPads. Educational publishers including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson will supply content on the iBookstore, with most titles priced at no more than US$14.99. Mac users will also be able to create their own digital textbooks, using the authoring tool, iBooks Author.

"With support for great new features including gorgeous, fullscreen books, interactive 3D objects, diagrams, videos and photos, the iBooks 2 app will let students learn about the solar system or the physics of a skyscraper with amazing new interactive textbooks that come to life with just a tap or swipe of the finger," Apple stated in a press release. "With its fast, fluid navigation, easy highlighting and note-taking, searching and definitions, plus lesson reviews and study cards, the new iBooks 2 app lets students study and learn in more efficient and effective ways than ever before."

iBooks Author users will be able to choose from a variety of page layouts, then drag and drop text and images (including video and 3D objects) into them. They can then publish those texts to iBookstore.

More information on the iBooks 2 system can be seen in a video that Apple released today.

The company also took this morning's opportunity to announce its related iTunes U app. It will reportedly supply educators and students with everything necessary for teaching or taking entire courses, via their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

"The all-new iTunes U app lets teachers create and manage courses including essential components such as lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and syllabuses and offer them to millions of iOS users around the world," the company stated. "The iTunes U app gives iOS users access to the world's largest catalog of free educational content from top universities including Cambridge, Duke, Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, and starting today any K-12 school district can offer full courses through the iTunes U app."

Besides accessing educational material, students will also be able to take notes using iBook, which will then be consolidated for easier reviewing. They will additionally receive notifications on information regarding their classes. Educators will be able to create their own courses using a variety of media, using existing Apple programs such as Keynote, Pages, Numbers, or now, iBooks Author.

Both iBooks 2 and iTunes U are available today as free downloads, from the App store.

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