BBC News – iPhone App of the Week

August 10, 2010

BBC News – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is BBC News

Get the latest, breaking news from the BBC and our global network of journalists.

By downloading the BBC News app you can view:

  • News stories by geographical region
  • News by category including business, technology, entertainment and sport
  • News in other languages including Spanish, Russian and Arabic
  • Video including one minute news summaries to keep you informed on the go
  • You can also personalise the app to suit your interests and download content for offline browsing

Free

The BBC News website is a wonderful resource and place for news on the web. The mobile version is okay too. Both versions do work on the iPhone and the iPad.

However the BBC News website does rely on Flash for video. The obvious solution would be, as other news providers have, build an App.

So the BBC did build a BBC News App for the iPhone and the iPad…

However…

UK media companies complained, so the BBC Trust said that the BBC News App would not be available in the UK, but they could make it available overseas!

Eventually after much deliberation and consultation the BBC Trust said that yes the App could be made available in the UK. Yay!

So what about the App itself?

Basically it is similar to the website, the news is divided into sections.

The advantage over the website is that any video is in h.264 format so it plays! Not all the news and video though on the main BBC website is easy to find on the App though.

The user interface is much more iPhone like than the website so making it much quicker and easier to use.

This is a really good App, just a pity that it wasn’t available in the UK for so long…

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Dragon Dictation – iPhone App of the Week

July 27, 2010

Dragon Dictation – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. In fact, it’s up to five (5) times faster than typing on the keyboard.

With Dragon Dictation you can also update your Facebook status, send notes and reminders to yourself, or Tweet to the world….all using your voice. So when you’re on-the-go, stop typing and start speaking – from short text messages to longer email messages, and anything in between.

Dragon Dictation currently supports both U.S. and U.K. English. Dragon Dictation will start supporting German language later this month, and will add support for French, Italian and Spanish languages later this year.

Free

I’ve had this App for a while now, but it has only been recently made available in the UK iTunes Store.

The version I was using only (really) responded to US English, this recently released version now supports UK English, so I no longer need to use a “fake” American accent!

What I like about this App is that is very quickly and easily transcribes what you are saying. It does require an internet connection as the transcription happens in the “cloud”.

This is very much how many people see the future of computing and the internet.

Your own device is quite simple, but is always connected. All the hard work and computing is down in the cloud, on other more powerful computers elsewhere.

This has advantages in terms of speed, but of course the main disadvantage is you will need to be connected to use this. Fine if you have free wifi or a decent 3G connection, obviously less so if you live in rural areas or all the wifi you can find costs money! In those kind of user scenarios you will need to probably buy a package for a laptop that does the transcription on the laptop.

So what of the actual transcription, well lets transcribe that previous paragraph. All you do is click the red button and say what you want transcribed.

This has advantages in terms of speed and of course the main disadvantage is you will need to be connected to use this fine if you have free Wi-Fi or do some freaky connection obviously less so if you remember when areas or all the Wi-Fi you can find cost money in this kind of user scenarios literally buy a package from laptop does this transcription on the laptop

If you speak slower, you do actually get a better result.

This has advantages in terms of speed, but of course the main disadvantage is that you will need to be connected to use this. Fine if you have free Wi-Fi or a decent 3G connection, obviously less so if you live in rural areas or all the Wi-Fi you can find costs money! In those kind of user scenarios you will need to probably buy a package for a laptop that does the transcription on that the laptop.

I also “spoke” the punctuation. As you can see there are only one or two errors. I also did in this quite a quiet room, so less background noise, try doing this in a noisy classroom and I suspect the results would not be as good.

At this stage you can go in and edit any errors or add text you forgot to say!

There is also an iPad version, and as this is an Universal App you only need to download one App to have both versions, one for the iPad and one for the iPhone.

If you want to use this on an iPod touch, you will need an external microphone.

Getting the text off is quite easy, either send as an SMS, e-mail it or copy it so you can then paste into another application or website. You can also link the App to social networks so you can use it to post Twitter and Facebook updates if you wish to.

This is a very good App and works really well.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #055: Gordon’s alive…

July 25, 2010

We’re talking about Flash this week and the impact that devices like the iPad will have on existing educational resources, development of new resources, tools and importantly the impact on learners and learning.

With James Clay, Dave Foord, Rob Englebright and Ron Mitchell.

This is the fifty fifth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Gordon’s alive…

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Gordon’s alive…

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Shownotes

Photo source.


e-Learning Tech Stuff #003 – BBC News App

July 23, 2010

This week’s e-Learning Tech Stuff is looking at the BBC News App.

Download the iPhone version in M4V format.

Get the latest, breaking news from the BBC and our global network of journalists.

By downloading the BBC News app you can view:

News stories by geographical region

News by category including business, technology, entertainment and sport

News in other languages including Spanish, Russian and Arabic

Video including one minute news summaries to keep you informed on the go

You can also personalise the app to suit your interests and download content for offline browsing

The BBC News website is a wonderful resource and place for news on the web. The mobile version is okay too. Both versions do work on the iPhone and the iPad.

However the BBC News website does rely on Flash for video. The obvious solution would be, as other news providers have, build an App.

So the BBC did build a BBC News App…

UK media companies complained, so the BBC Trust said that the BBC News App would not be available in the UK, but they could make it available overseas!

However today the BBC Trust having delayed the UK launch has now said that the App would be available in the UK.

The UK launch was delayed while the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, assessed the proposals and their impact on the rest of the industry.

The apps do not “represent a significant change to the BBC’s existing public services,” ruled the BBC Trust, meaning that further scrutiny was not required.

So what about the App itself?

Basically it is similar to the website, the news is divided into sections.

The advantage over the website is that any video is in h.264 format so it plays!

The user interface is much more iPhone like than the website so making it much quicker and easier to use.


The age of mobile is now

July 21, 2010

I have been talking about using mobile devices for a long time now, well before I started working at Gloucestershire College (and all that MoLeNET stuff), well before my time at the Western Colleges Consortium (and that Mobile on a VLE presentation).

Despite protestations about screen sizes, lack of power, inferior operating systems, we are now seeing the rise of the mobile device as the next big step in computing.

The first computers were BIG and clunky and you didn’t just use them, you booked time slots to use them.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers!”
Attributed to Thomas Watson of IBM, but in fact no evidence to say he ever said it.

Computers then became the mainstay of business, something to do business on.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, president/founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

With the rise of the personal computer and importantly the explosion of the internet in the late 1990s, not only did we see computers in the home, we also saw a lot more personal computers in education.

Laptops at this time were expensive, but small portable ones were available, I really liked the Toshiba Libretto that I bought at that time.

In 2000 I was working at @Bristol in the centre of the Bristol Harbourside, one project we worked on was using the HP Jornada  and using JetSend technology to “squirt” URLs to the device that would then access the webpage over (what was then) a spiffy wireless network.

It was at this point that I could really see some real benefits of using mobile devices for learning, and using devices that weren’t laptops.

Over that decade we did see the emergence of the laptop over the desktop, more and more people would buy a laptop rather than a desktop for their main computer.

During that time I did a lot more work on using mobile devices for learning, focusing on multimedia content on devices such as PDAs, Media Players and mobile phones.

I remember in about 2001 driving up the M5 and getting stuck in one of those traffic jams in the early evening. My wife was watching the Matrix on my iPAQ PDA. I had converted a ripped DVD (uh oh I know) that I had converted into a MPEG1 video file, placed on an IBM Compact Flash Microdrive and played it back on the iPAQ using PocketTV. As she watched the film people in the cars looked into ours in awe and curiosity about what was that glowing light in our car. Of course today everyone can do this, but at the time it was both clever and geeky!

“I’m not convinced people want to watch movies on a tiny little screen.”
Steve Jobs of Apple in 2003.

The seminal presentation of mine, Mobile Learning on a VLE, at the JISC 2006 Online Conference really got a lot of people thinking about using mobile devices and put my name out there as a leader in mobile learning.

There were many others at that time who were also following the same journey as myself, people like Mick Mullane, Lilian Soon, David Sugden and others. We were all very passionate about using mobile devices for learning.

Despite our passion, we still heard the resistance from practitioners (and sometimes from learners, but usually practitioners) that the screens were too small, they weren’t powerful enough, battery life was too short.

We, with others, were very much involved in the MoLeNET programme and that has had a huge impact in FE in kick starting the use of mobile devices for learning.

Mobile devices in the last few years have also dramatically changed too. Mobile phones have moved on from phones that just made calls and SMS, to mobile computers. Apple have also changed the landscape, first with the iPhone, then the iPod touch and now the iPad.

“There are no plans to make a tablet, it turns out people want keyboards…. We look at the tablet, and we think it is going to fail.”
Steve Jobs of Apple in 2003.

Innovation now is in the mobile sector of the market, these are the devices that our learners are buying and using.

The age of mobile is now.


FlickStackr – iPhone App of the Week

July 20, 2010

FlickStackr – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is FlickStackr

FlickStackr brings Flickr photo sharing to the iPad. Designed from the ground up for the larger screen, it allows you to BROWSE photos in the Flickr universe. UPLOAD photos and EDIT your photos’ metadata.

£1.19

There is a free Flickr App for the iPhone (which I do have) however when I came to look for a Flickr App for the iPad, I wanted something that used all that lovely screen rather than the x2 of the Flickr iPhone App. I came across FlickrStackr and decided to try it out.

Now before you start shouting at me that the “iPad doesn’t have a camera” let me just remind you that there are quite a few photo editing Apps available for the iPad and you can also get a camera connector kit for the iPad that allows you to upload onto the iPad, photographs from a “proper” camera!

FlickrStackr is an universal App and therefore if you get it for the iPad it will also be available on the iPhone in an iPhone version. This is (as you might expect) similar to the Flickr App for the iPhone. It allows you to go through Flickr as you would on the website through a standard browser, but is a much better experience than using mobile Flickr through the mobile Safari browser and that is the main reason to use the App over just using the web interface.

I can browse my photostream and find images. These I can then download onto the iPhone if needed.

I might be doing this if wanting to send images to another service, or attach to a blog posting using the WordPress App.

I can also go through my sets, this is useful If I was wanting to show some of my photographs to someone, I have sets of my Library and of the facilities in my college for example.

I can also use the App to upload photographs, and with the much better camera in the iPhone 4 I suspect I will be taking more photographs with it than I did with the 3GS.

The original reason I bought the App was that it was a dedicated iPad App and it does work very well on the iPad. I can view my photostream.

I can view individual images.

Browsing images is easy and quick.

Overall if you take photographs with the iPhone, or you have the camera connector on the iPad, and you have a Flickr account, it makes sense to have some kind of Flickr App on your iPhone or iPad.

The free Flickr App is going to be fine for what most people need, however if you want something a little better and £1.19 is not exactly going to break the bank, then I would recommend FlickrStackr.


Playing the iPad

July 15, 2010

I am sure most people are aware of the many music “instrument” apps for the iPhone and the iPad.

I was talking to one of our music technology lecturers the other day and she was asking if we could get some iPads so that her learners could play a set with them.

This is not something that hasn’t been done before as can be seen from these two videos of iPads and iPhones been used with real instruments.

Certainly shows how gadgets like the iPad can be used for things that you wouldn’t think were even possible.