Apple's NYC event just ended, and it covered essentially what was predicted. To wit:
Interactive textbooks are cool, but not new. Inkling has had a great app for a while now, but lacked publisher support. If the major textbook publishers are really behind Apple's initiative, that's huge. It could definitely help tilt schools currently on the fence about a 1:1 iPad deployment. The pricing of those textbooks ($14.99) is also pretty significant. For a private school like mine, asking students to buy an iPad and some $14.99 textbooks would end up saving parents a lot of money. The iBook authoring tool looks great too, and anything that makes it easier for teachers to create custom lessons is a positive.
As Fraser Spiers has said repeatedly, you need technology, pedagogy, and curriculum. Longterm, iTunes U could be a huge step toward integrating those three. The interactive textbooks don't mean much by themselves, but combined with the iTunes U app, teachers can really move to a curriculum and pedagogy that are entirely new. Even at the high school level, it is now possible to easily offer a course that is entirely digital, without expensive expensive hardware or software. All that's needed is a student with an iPad (and a teacher with a Mac to create the content).
There is often a very conflicted response to these types of announcements. The tech bloggers have never been a teacher, and are quick to praise any new technology as "saving" the broken education system. As evidenced by the lack of change over the last 100 years, that is rarely how it works out.
Among education technology people, most either rush to proclaim, "All our problems have been fixed!" or list the reasons why nothing will change. Of course the reality is probably somewhere in the middle. Any teacher who has been waiting for Apple to "save" or "fix" education is part of the problem. The tools are there, and have been for a while. Today's announcements just made those tools even better.
The challenge for me? I can think of 100 ways I could use these new tools. But my administration has 101 reasons why it won't work. Guess who will win?