iOS Tip: Alternatives to iOS Stock Apps for iPhone & iPad

hero_frontApple’s core iOS apps are good enough for what they are intended for but there are much better apps out there that can improve your iPhone or iPad experience. A lot of them are free and the others are worth the price tag. Here I will offer a list and short review of each. Continue reading

iOS Tip: How to Search for Text in Safari

Ever have the need to find a certain keyword on a website? A very useful but little-known tool the Safari browser has is the ability to search for text. This can be helpful when rereading an article and trying to find a particular section. On computers and laptops searching for text is easily activated by pressing control+F or command+F. The reason why this feature is often overlooked in Safari for iOS is because it is hidden in plain sight…

To search for text on a webpage just type in the search field located on the top right of Safari.

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Yes, the same search field used to search the web. This is why this feature is hidden in plain site. Most people only see the search field as a means to search the web. If you are looking for certain text on the site you are on just type in the search field. All these “search suggestions” start appearing as you type. These suggestions further hides the fact that you can search text but if you notice under all the “search suggestions” and right above your keyboard it says, “On This Page (# matches).” In the example below there are 5 matches.

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The “On This Page…” bar is often overlooked but it is telling you how often your text appears on the current site you are on. Now just press and hold in the “search suggestions” area and drag up. This will drop the keyboard and reveal the option to find your keyword.

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Press “Find ‘keyword’” and you will see all of them highlighted on the site. Just press the arrow keys until you find the section of the site you are looking for!

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And that’s pretty much the gist of it. Hope this was helpful!

 -Mr Mendo

iOS Tip: Using Reader

Safari, the iPad’s web browser, offers a feature that is often overlooked and hardly ever used – Reader. You probably see it all the time but may not have ever even bothered to consider what it is. When loading a site with an article, a ‘Reader’ button appears in the address bar.

What that button does is reloads your page in a much cleaner format by removing ads, marginal text, non-essential pictures, or anything else that clutters the page leaving only the article you are reading allowing you to stay focused on what you actually care about. It also resizes the text in an easier to read font size rather than you zooming in to a size you are comfortable reading in. In fact, if it’s still too small you can select a bigger size. I know my parents would appreciate the bigger size since they’re always reaching for their glasses. Anyway that is pretty much it. Press the ‘Reader’ button again to go back to browsing. This tip actually works on iPhones also.

Here’s an example using an article from the NY Times:

Much easier to read and no distractions! =)

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Coming Soon: Guided Access

Apple had their annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC 2012) announcing things like their new Macbook Pro and new updates for the operating system for iPads and iPhones called iOS 6. Among other things, one key feature that stood out to me as a teacher is called, ‘Guided Access.’ Here is the official description from Apple’s website:

“iOS 6 comes with even more features to make it easier for people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities to get the most from their iOS devices. Guided Access helps students with disabilities such as autism remain on task and focused on content. It allows a parent, teacher, or administrator to limit an iOS device to one app by disabling the Home button, as well as restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen. VoiceOver, the revolutionary screen reader for blind and low-vision users, is now integrated with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom. And Apple is working with top manufacturers to introduce Made for iPhone hearing aids that will deliver a power-efficient, high-quality digital audio experience.”

This being a blog for teachers what caught my attention was, “It allows a parent, teacher, or administrator to limit an iOS device to one app by disabling the Home button…” This new feature allows a teacher to chose an app and then disable the home button basically restricting the students from exiting the app and then trying to open other things such as youtube, facebook, or whatever else. So if students are given iPads during their Algebra I class to use the Quick Graph app to graph a system of linear inequalities, they will not have the temptation to open the Messages app  and start texting all their friends about how bored they are in math class.

And that is the key factor. Once students become accustomed to fact that the iPad can be restricted then they will lose the distraction of trying to do other things once they get their hands on the iPad. All it takes is one student to open a funny video and the whole class becomes distracted. A teacher’s worst nightmare would be a classroom full of students with iPads who are not on task because they’re too busy on twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, pandora, draw something, and anything else other than what the teacher needs them to be on.

I look forward to this update which is not due until the fall of 2012. Unfortunately, however, the iOS 6 update is only available for the iPad 2 and the New iPad (3rd Generation) and will not be available for the Original iPad which is upsetting. Regardless, Guided Access will be a welcomed feature for teachers.

Click to see the full iOS 6 Preview from the official Apple site.

-Mr. Mendo

iOS Tip: How to Take Screenshots

Taking screenshots can be an effective tool for teachers for a number of reasons. Basically, whatever is on your screen can be captured and saved as a picture. For example, a social studies teacher can pull up google maps on the iPad and take a screenshot of a state or country to share with the class as a visual aid. Apple has made it very simple to take a screenshot on the iPad (as well as the iPhone for that matter).

All you have to do is press the home button and the power button at the same time. Done. The screen will flash white (to mimic the idea of a flash) and you can access your screenshot from the Photos app.

Here are some examples:

So there ya go! There are ways to crop, rotate, and edit images which I will cover soon.

-Mr. Mendo

iPad Tip: Typing with a Stylus

As mentioned in my previous post about the split keyboard, my preferred method of typing on the iPad is to use a stylus. I find that no matter what position I’m in or how long I have to write for, I am most comfortable typing with a stylus. It doesn’t just stop there though as the stylus replaces your finger’s interaction with the iPad such as clicking on icons, browsing the internet, and are especially helpful with drawing apps such as Paper by FiftyThree. I find using the iPad with a stylus is a lot more comfortable but my point is that typing with a stylus is the most efficient and timely method in my opinion.

I’ve seen a number of different kinds at Best Buy and they range from $10 – $40. I haven’t tried all the different kinds but there really isn’t much to them as long as they are sensitive enough for the iPad anyone will do the trick.

-Mr. Mendo

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iPad Tip: Split Keyboard

First point I’d like to bring up is typing on the iPad. Typing on the iPad is a lot more cumbersome than it is typing on a regular keyboard or on a smartphone. The keyboard is big and typing on a big touch screen keyboard is awkward so if students are expected to write paragraphs, short stories, or multiple-page papers it may take them much longer than just using a computer with a regular keyboard. Some people hold their iPad portrait style and use the pointer finger to type. Others lay their iPad flat on a table and put it in landscape to try to type like on a regular keyboard. Every person has their own preferences which also depends on what mood they’re in or what it is they’re actually typing. Of course in a classroom setting time is always a factor and typing in either way students may get easily frustrated. The experience of typing shouldn’t be the reason why a student cannot get their work done so for the students’ sake it is worth exploring other methods.

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