Apple's 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.
This sentence is part of Apple's company summary and might as well be their mission statement. It would be great if this sentence were true.
Without much additional work, it could be.
Swift Playgrounds reminds us of another Apple product
The WWDC 2016 keynote moved at a brisk pace, covering a number of incremental improvements to strengthen core businesses for the company, but none would be considered visionary or innovative.
Toward the end, Tim Cook elevated his game and closed with a dramatic flourish worthy of his predecessor, Steve Jobs.
He introduced Swift Playgrounds, an iPad app designed to make it easier for kids to learn how to code, and drove the point home with an emotional video about how learning to code changes lives for the better.
Cook described Swift Playgrounds as "a gift to kids and schools across the world," and announced this software would be made available for free. In doing so, I was instantly reminded of another vital software tool Apple decided to give away for free — one with an equally noble goal — iBooks Author.
Can't have one without the other
What's ironic is that Swift Playgrounds, and Cook's entire goal of enabling kids to learn coding in schools, will never gain critical mass unless Apple changes how it supports iBooks Author.
For educators, iBooks Author grants complete control of curriculum, thanks to the ability to integrate rich multimedia and HTML5 interactivity into these digital books and the ability to update books at any time (for free). Importantly, iBooks Author is synonymous with accessibility, allowing the creation of content that rises up to meet students where they are, thanks to its unique flexibility and power.
Despite the fact that Apple is giving Swift Playgrounds away for free, schools still have to purchase (or lease) iPads to use it on. This is money most schools in America simply don't have. Unless, of course, you can eliminate one of these schools' largest expenses: expensive textbooks from big publishers.
Fortunately for Apple, they have an app for that.
Committed to making the best products on earth
When it comes to marketing, Apple has a growing imbalance: the company, under Tim Cook, strangely fixates on flavors of the month like Liam (the recycling robot, if you already forgot), trying to drive Spotify into the ground with Apple Music, or at this WWDC, it was 20 solid minutes of...iMessage updates. Emoji are three times bigger!
Meanwhile, the company ignores decidedly less sexy products, but ones that could make an actual difference, like, you guessed it, iBooks Author.
iBooks Author is uniquely able to allow educators to create digital content, from accessible syllabi to lesson plans to full-blown textbooks. Kids can even use it for everything from team assignments to capstone projects. (It's being used by many outside of education as well.)
If they manage to rediscover the importance of iBooks Author, and promote it with the zeal of Apple Music, and with the resources they put behind all these iMessage updates, they might just leave the world better than they found it.