Thursday’s Apple event presented a giant leap forward in the process of updating American education. As of today, elementary, high school and college students are all able to experience a new, dynamic digitization of textbooks and course materials through the iPad. Textbooks for iBooks marks a new wave of modernization in the educational system, and if it succeeds, a new learning style might be on the horizon.

Combined with iBooks Author for Mac and a revamped iTunes U interface, Apple has officially established itself as a conductor for the digital education experience. The WYSIWIG interface of the application means that even technologically green teachers will be able to develop customized coursework companions for their curricula. From soup to nuts, users are able to take part in developing educational tools for any level and also do it relatively cheaply. All of the apps iTunes debuted today are free from the iTunes or Mac App Store, and are available for immediate use.

The revamp of iTunes U also brings a new wave of promise to an old idea. Users can now participate in open courses from some of the country’s best universities, without ever having to leave their homes. Dynamic and interactive, iTunes U’s new facelift could possibly attract more universities to the platform and, in turn, produce more overall educational content through Apple’s mediums.

Take a closer look at the highlights from the event, including in-depth anaylsis from the Mashable team.

What are you most excited about as Apple begins its foray into education? Let us know in the comments.

1. iBooks 2

The iPad’s iBooks app is what the rest of the Apple for Education apps cleverly rest on. Available for free today in the iTunes store, iBooks 2 provides deeper functionality and a special section for Apple’s major announcement…

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The beta for iTunes Match, Apple’s service for bringing all of your music to iCloud, has been released to developers.

The service is part of the release of iTunes 10.5 beta 6.1. iTunes Match scans a user’s music and finds copies of those songs in iCloud, regardless of whether those songs were purchased through iTunes. That music can then be played or streamed via iTunes.

The iTunes Match beta is available now to U.S. developers for $24.99 for a 12 month paid subscription. Developers that jump on iTunes Match during the beta period get an additional three months for free. Developers should back up their iTunes library because “Apple will periodically reset your iCloud library during the beta.”

Apple will face stiff competition for its cloud-based offering from startups like Spotify and Rdio. Apple’s strong relationship with the labels gives it a distinct advantage though as it prepares to push iCloud to the masses.

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Apple has unveiled the beta for iCloud, the company’s new suite of media streaming and cloud-based services.

The new beta, which is available to all users with an Apple ID, features web-based version of Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Find my iPhone and iWork. They are accessible if you visit iCloud.com while using iOS 5 (available to Apple developers) or Mac OS X Lion. It does not include Apple’s cloud music services, including iTunes Match.

Update: Some of our readers are having trouble accessing iCloud with Lion.

Apple also unveiled the pricing structure for iCloud. The first 5 GB of storage on the service are free. An additional 10 GB will cost $20, 20 GB will cost $40 and 5 0GB will retail for $100. It’s more expensive than Amazon Cloud Drive, which gives 20 GB of space for $20 and lets users store an unlimited amount of music for free.

We’re playing around with the iCloud beta now, and while we’ll have more to report, our initial conclusion is that the iCloud beta is a modified version of MobileMe. It includes similar interfaces, which isn’t a surprise. The addition of iWork support is a welcomed addition though, as is the simplistic and universal interface for all of Apple’s cloud services.

We’ve taken some screenshots of the beta and embedded them below. Check them out, and let us know what you think of the iCloud beta in the comments.

Mashable reporter Christina Warren contributed to this report.

iCloud Beta Login Screen

This is the login screen for the iCloud beta.

iCloud Icons

iCloud’s beta includes Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Find My iPhone and iWork.

iCloud Contacts

This is the interface for contacts.

iCloud Calendar

This is the interface for calendar.

iCloud Mail

You need an @me.com email address to use iCloud Mail.

iCloud Keynote

This is the opening screen for Keynote in iCloud.

iCloud Numbers

This is the opening screen for Numbers in iCloud.

iCloud Pages

This is the opening screen for Pages in iCloud.

iCloud for Mac OS X

This is the iCloud icon for the Mac OS X version.

Install iCloud Screen

This is the first screen you’ll see when you attempt to install iCloud for Mac OS x lion

More About: apple, icloud, iOS, itunes, iwork, mac os x, mac os x lion, mobileme

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Apple has launched @AppStore, a new Twitter account for its popular iOS and Mac App Store.

The new @AppStore Twitter account only made its debut a few hours ago, but it has already amassed more than 35,000 Twitter followers as of this writing. For comparison, its sister account, @iTunesMusic, has more than 680,000 followers.

As the accounts first tweet explains, @AppStore will feature new apps in Apple’s iOS and Mac App Stores and provide exclusive offers for Twitter users. For example, the account’s second tweet provided a quick pitch and a link to Nike’s Training Club app.

Creating a Twitter account for the App Store seems like a simple and effective way to generate more buzz and more downloads about featured apps. It’s essentially the same thing Apple has been doing with its App Store Facebook Page, which has nearly 1 million fans. Apple also has five popular iTunes Twitter accounts tweeting about new films, music and TV shows.

Still, Apple is known for its lack of engagement in social media. The company doesn’t have official Facebook or Twitter accounts. While the @AppStore account is a refreshing addition to Apple’s social media roster, don’t expect Steve Jobs, Tim Cook or Apple, Inc. to be tweeting anytime soon.

More About: app store, apple, iOS, iOS App Store, iphone app store, itunes, mac app store, twitter




Two months after making their iTunes debut, The Beatles are setting some significant records in the digital music realm.

iTunes representatives say more than 5 million tracks and more than 1 million albums by the Fab Four have been sold worldwide. As Entertainment Weekly notes, 2 million of those songs and 450,000 albums sold in the first week alone. The Associated Press reports that the current best-selling Beatles album in the U.S. is Abbey Road, while the top song is “Here Comes the Sun.”

The Beatles’ music finally appeared on iTunes this past November after a decades-long dispute that prevented the catalog from being sold via the music service. Now, all 13 of the band’s remastered studio albums appear on the site, along with the “Past Masters” set and the “Red” (1962-1966) and “Blue” (1967-1970) compilations.

Meanwhile, even though The Beatles’ music is still popular in the form of digital files, the band’s works also continue to thrive in old-school formats. As Consequence of Sound points out, Nielsen SoundScan reports indicate that in 2010, Abbey Road was the best-selling album — on vinyl — for the second year in a row.

More About: itunes, itunes sales, music, the beatles