Making the Grade: iTunes U and iBooks Author are stricken by software rot

Google has been ridiculed over growing and shutting down diverse programs through the years, however on the subject of corporation software program applications, I would choose that over letting things die a slow agonizing death. Apple, however, has accomplished the latter with two of its K–12 targeted software applications: iBooks Author and iTunes U. Apple have allowed these apps to be afflicted by software program rot.

About Making The Grade: Every Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a brand new article approximately Apple in schooling. He has been dealing with Apple gadgets in an schooling environment because of 2009. Through his enjoy deploying and coping with 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s merchandise work at scale, memories from the trenches of IT control, and ways Apple may want to improve its merchandise for college students.

iBooks Author turned into released in 2012 with a whole lot fanfare at an training-centered occasion. I took a have a look at that occasion last 12 months.

iBooks Author was a Mac-only software for constructing these interactive textbooks. Creating iBooks subsequently got here to the iPad the day gone by but as a characteristic of the brand new Pages app for iPad. It’s now not truly a complete 1:1 substitute.

It hasn’t seen a meaningful replace in two years, and that update certainly delivered new templates to paintings with. It’s largely the identical software that it turned into when it became released in 2012. Is iBooks Author an app that faculties are supposed to build around? If so, what promise do they have that it will likely be compatible with anything in the future? Version 2.0 came out six years in the past, and a couple of of.6.1 is the present day model. Are multi-touch books nonetheless an approach that Apple is centered on? If so, why changed into it released at the iPad as a subset of features inside of Pages? Perhaps the most telling that is that the advertising images on the iBooks Author website are not even optimized for Retina screens. iBooks Author is genuinely a demonstration Apple has a software program rot trouble in K-12.

Another utility/carrier that Apple is basically neglecting is iTunes U. If you aren’t familiar with iTunes U, it’s a software program/provider utility designed for teachers to facilitate handing over homework, website hosting non-public discussions, and capabilities an integrated grade book.

Apple pitches it as a continuing way to arrange your study room. When you study thru the advertising substances for it, it looks like it needs to be a superb aid for teachers and students alike. The key-word here needs to. iTunes U at the iPad is on 3.7.1. The final meaningful replace changed into with three.5 which changed into launched in March of 2017, and that wasn’t even a lot of something.

• Mark up pix with commands or comments using built-in annotation tools • Quickly send video messages and comments in 1:1 chat among teachers and students • Open audio or video documents at once in other apps

Prior to that, it handiest noticed three updates in 2016. The ultimate main characteristic changed into released in 2015. This replaces history is a photo perfect case of Apple letting this provider be afflicted by software rot.

• Posts can now consist of pictures • Grade ebook presentations student’s common grade within a route • Grade ebook presentations minimum, most and mean grades for an mission • iTunes U is now designed to take advantage of the bigger canvas of iPad Pro • Includes minor stability and performance improvements

Sadly, iTunes U doesn’t even help cut up display screen at the iPad yet. The Apple Pencil support is bare bones. It might be difficult for me to recommend iTunes U as a platform for everybody at this point.

For each iTunes U and iBooks Author, it’s now not entirely clear that anybody at Apple is even running on either platform. Both of them had monstrous promise and should have been at the spine of Apple’s K–12 approaches.

While iTunes U has been ignored, Google has been difficult at paintings on Google Classroom. Since it’s release, Google Classroom has been constantly up to date and greater. It works on iOS, macOS, and ChromeOS. iTunes U most effective works on iPad. It’s ironic that Google is doing a better job of supporting Apple’s structures with a K–12 software program than Apple. Yes, Google shuts down plenty of offerings, but I’d as an alternative them be shut down than be afflicted by software rot (that’s what Apple is doing).

iTunes U could have been at the middle of Apple’s K–12 strategies. It might have been in which the entirety ended up and wherein the whole thing started. Instead, it’s long gone years without significant updates to both the utility aspect or the server-side thing. While Apple is still operating on different lecture room apps, it’s not even close to being a 1:1 alternative for iTunes U. Even the Classroom app has gone over a year without a meaningful update.

Apple pitches the security for students and instructors, and while I love that component of it, I need to see that plus endured improvements. Under Steve Jobs, Apple deployed a directly responsible person (DRI) mentality for each project. It’s pretty clear, there is no DRI for iTunes U and iBooks Author at Apple. If these applications aren’t going to be evolved and more suitable, Apple ought to announce plans to close them down in preference to allowing them to be afflicted by software rot.