updated 10:29 pm EDT, Fri September 6, 2013
Follows wording change suggesting all iOS devices now supporting textbooks
Shortly after changing the wording regarding iOS device compatibility on its iBooks Textbooks pages, a new dedicated page for the educational e-books has been spotted in the Education section of the iOS 7 App Store for iPhone -- confirming that the wording change was heralding new compatibility for iBooks Textbooks and iPhones (and by extension, iPod touch devices). While the section (which is currently only available to developers and testers running iOS 7) is not yet fully functional or stocked with many selections, the category artwork does appear to be optimized for the 4-inch iPhone display.
The changed wording, which describes iBooks Textbooks as being compatible with all current iOS devices, is still present in the iOS 7 store and reads "to view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 3.0 or later and iOS 5.1 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later." Apple plans to include or at least make available a Mac-native version of iBooks, a long-requested feature that would allow e-book buyers to read purchases and samples on Macs as well as iPads. The program for the Mac is expected to be announced alongside the upgrade to Mavericks, now speculated to be available sometime in October.
The iBooks Textbooks compatibility with iPhone and iPod Touch devices may be announced as part of the rollout of iOS 7, which is expected at the September 10 Apple media event that will also likely see new iPhone models announced. Apple's invention of iBooks Author and educational initiatives on educational e-textbooks has sparked a quiet but noticeable revolution in institutional buying, becoming a factor in larger-scale iPad purchases for school systems.
The LA Unified School District recently committed to a plan to put iPads (featuring pre-loaded textbooks) into the hands of every single student in the system -- initially rolling out to 31,000 students at a cost of $30 million. The city plans to cover 640,000 students across all public grade levels from kindergarten through high school by the end of the 2014 school year.