November 10, 2015 Last Updated 10:43 am

Apple publishes ‘Apple TV User Guide’ to the iBooks Store

Despite developing its own eBook production software, Apple rarely chooses to use iBooks Author to produce the company’s product guides, pointing to the limitations of the solution

There are obvious areas of Apple where you can see the problems that come when a company gets so large. Departments don’t really talk to each other, and software being promoted by one department is not used by another.

Several examples are tied to the new Apple TV. The old iOS Remote, for instance, used by many iPhone and iPad owners to control their Apple TV, does not work with the new Apple TV. This may not be terribly surprising as the new Apple TV uses Siri to control at least some of the features of the TV streaming device (but not Apple Music), and the Remote app doesn’t.

But one would have thought that Apple’s own app would get an update. Why didn’t it? Was Apple’s fetish for secrecy extended to its own software departments? Who knows, but users of the Remote are screaming bloody murder in their reviews inside the App Store.


Another area has always been Apple’s own eBooks. While Apple has had a great opportunity to show off what iBooks Author can do, its hardware side doesn’t appear very interested in exploring the program’s capabilities.

There are probably good reasons for this: until recently iBA couldn’t produce a book that could be read on the iPhone – and when the software was first released it couldn’t even produce a book that could be read on a Mac.

It’s hard to know who is to blame for this, was the iBA team not thinking about iPhone and Mac users, or did they have a long, very long timeline for the product that included adding this later? But the question still remains, why does one hand not know what the other is doing?

There have been some exceptions among the 240 eBooks Apple has inside the iBooks Store.

iOSTrainingApple’s book iOS Technical Training was created with iBA, easy to see from its shorter book icon. But the screenshots show a much cleaner, more “native” look. The book was released this July, so the team that put it together could be sure that anyone downloading it would be able to read it on their Mac – and they knew the reader had a Mac because this is required to build iOS apps.

Apple’s newest eBook is the Apple TV User Guide and it follows the pattern of almost all the other Apple eBook they have published. It is a straight ePub book without any of the interactivity an eBook built using iBA could have included. Since the buyers of an Apple TV doesn’t have to own an iPhone, iPad or Mac this might have made sense, though someone in this situation would not have access to the iBooks Store, so it remains an odd choice.

But if the reader only owned an iPhone, they would still be able to use this Guide, whereas if one chose to use iBA to build a more interactive eBook, it would have to be read in landscape and the fonts might appear too small.

This is the problem with iBA, though, isn’t it? It still, all these years after being first released, does not play nice with all Apple devices (and certainly not with devices outside the Apple ecosystem).

Having dwelled on the negative, let me admit that Apple’s eBooks are still very useful. Any first time owner of an Apple TV will find the new Guide very useful. It does contain links to both material inside the book as well as pages on the web. But I can’t help but think what a more adventurous Guide could have accomplished if iBA had been used in all its glory.

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