Apple updates iBooks Author, adds in support for importing ePub and InDesign files
Update also allows designers to set their media to auto-play, and for readers to play HTML widgets right on the page rather than in a new window
The eBook publishing platform from Apple, iBooks Author, received an update last night. The update, which brings the program up to version 2.2, fails to introduce iPhone support, the one thing publishers have been asking for from the beginning. But there are a number of interesting new features.
The update for iBA now allows designers to import ePub files. It also allows for the importation of Adobe InDesign IDML files, which may prove a big help for seasoned designers expert at Adobe’s publishing design program. (The download is 412 MB.)
Apple also had added blank templates, probably an unnecessary step for many, but a bit of a convenience for designers comfortable starting from scratch.
Maybe the biggest improvement, and one often requested from publishers, is the addition of an auto-pplay function for media such as video, Keynote presentations and other HTML widgets. Readers will probably start to see pages come to live at open almost immediately – and, hopefully, designers won’t over use this feature to drive readers crazy with videos that play at open and really shouldn’t.
Finally, the update now allows readers to interact with some HTML widgets right on the page rather than bringing up a new window that must then be closed at the end.
(I should also add that there is no hyperlink options that could be used quite interestingly. Designers can now link to a location in another book, or link from an image – something that has been often requested.)
All-in-all, this is a really good, if minor, update to iBooks Author. These are the kinds of incremental improvements one hopes to see in a new program – and ones that add new functionality and utility to the digital publishing solution.
The two big improvements eBook publishers would love to see are support for the iPhone, especially now that the iPhone displays are getting bigger, and cross-platform support. One understand why Apple is hesitant to support other platforms, but why it fails to support the iPhone is a mystery. It seems that one, simple solution, might be to simply add iPhone templates. This would mean publishers would have to design for the smaller screen from scratch, rather than simply convert their designs, but there is no doubt many would be eager to do so.
Update: the latest version of iBA lists among its requirements that the user must be have OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or higher. That will effect more people than you might expect. Many of those on older Macs, like the Mac mini, never upgraded to Mavericks because the software does not perform well on older Macs. Because of this, some of you may not see the update at all – this may be why.