Yesterday at the Apple’s invitation-only education event, Apple announced the next version of iBooks for iPad – iBooks 2, which now features interactive textbooks. They also unveiled iBooks Author – a Mac OS X application that should greatly facilitate the creation of those textbooks (or other interactive books) and iTunes U iOS app, which lets you access complete courses from leading universities and plenty of free educational content.

“Education is deep in Apple’s DNA and iPad may be our most exciting education product yet. With 1.5 million iPads already in use in education institutions, including over 1,000 one-to-one deployments, iPad is rapidly being adopted by schools across the US and around the world,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Now with iBooks 2 for iPad, students have a more dynamic, engaging and truly interactive way to read and learn, using the device they already love.”

iBooks 2, the sequel to the Apple’s popular app will bring movies, multitouch gestures, links, lightning-fast searches, photo galleries, visual Q&A sections, 3D models, and other interactive elements to textbooks. As Apple loves to say, “we want to reinvent textbooks”. The iBooks 2 app is free and available today in the App Store for the iPad and iPhone. The Cupertino company is teaming up with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which will offer textbooks via iBooks for $14.99 or less. Inside the App Store’s new textbook category, McGraw-Hill and Pearson are now offering algebra, biology, chemistry, geometry, and physics books for U.S. customers; Houghton Mifflin e-textbooks are coming soon. Selections from DK Publishing and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation will also be on offer.

And if you thought from where will the interactive textbooks come, then Apple has already thought of it, and iBooks Author for Mac OS X does exactly that. iBooks Author offers templates, drag-and-drop controls, auto-formatting, and allows for custom elements.

Apple also introduced the new iTunes U app, which was previously a collection of free videos and podcasts. The new app will offer customizable topics, have room for things such as office hours, allow teachers to post messages or list assignments, and make lectures streamable or downloadable. The app will be free and is no longer limited to universities — K-12 schools will be able to use it as well.

We really appreciate the way Apple has been trying to push forward education with its products.