New word–Skeuomorphic (and iOS7)

I came across this word when reading about Apples new design for iOS (7).

Apparently skeuomorphic relates to making one thing look as if it mad from a different material – in software terms this might be a notepad screen being made to look like a piece of paper.

ANYWAY – iOS7 is on it’s way and looks set to be quite radical whilst being superficially similar – a clever feat and I’m sure that if anyone could pull this off then it’ll be Apple.

Read more about iOS7 here


Release date for iPhone 5

It seems that October 4th is the most likely guess at the moment (although there is still noting official).  There is an Apple Media event scheduled for this time so many folk are hopeful.

I wonder if there will be anything about iPad3?  I have noticed events in November and December offering iPad2s included as part of the ticket price, these are going to look very out of date if the 3 is released.


A few Apps I’ve yet to try out


An iPhone app that lets you make free phone calls to other iPhone users who have Viber installed. "A good alternative to Skype that seems to integrate better with the way people use their phones. It utilises your contacts list to tell you who else is using it and also receives calls when the app isn’t active." AF


Turns your iPhone into a wireless, external hard drive that you can connect to your email, website or home computer. If you’re greedy for even more space, you can pay $8.99 for the Pro version.


A document scanner that is far superior to taking a photo. It allows you to process images in batches to create a black-and-white PDF and send back-up scans to your computer from iTunes. It can be used for anything from keeping a copy of a magazine recipe to making a note of homework


Identify songs in as little as four seconds or simply say or type in the name of an artist to get instant access to their catalogue. Compared to Shazam, SoundHound really goes that extra mile in finding lyrics and YouTube videos of songs. Users can pay $6.99 for the advertisement-free version.


Left your phone at the pub? Write it a "please return to owner" message remotely and it will pop up on the display screen. Know it’s in the house somewhere but just can’t find it? Access the online map from your home computer to see exactly where it is, then command it to play a sound. Know it’s been stolen? Set PINs and wipe the phone remotely. Dropped it in the toilet? Sorry, can’t help you there.


A walkie talkie for adults. Just press the "speak" button and send an instant voice message to any contacts who also have the app. For $2.49, you can buy a voice changer that makes you sound like a creepy robot, or a pitch-perfect singer.


"Allows you to time-shift your reading by letting you clip and store articles you find on the web. You can share this list with others, sub-categorise and pick your favourites. Now all it needs to do is find you the time to read them all."

National Geographic – and great lessons

I’ve recently downloaded the National Geographic App for the iPad.  Reading the magazine is a really easy experience on this size device and re-enforces the comments made on the radio earlier this week by the Washington Post – we are definitely now in a totally new ‘ball game’.

Seeing the magazine again reminded me of a really great series of lessons that I saw a few years ago whereby pupils were taught how to create a new cover for National Geographic – relatively easy but difficult to do well.  The lessons were used as an introduction to the use of ‘success criteria’ and ‘evaluation’ which then happened in ALL other units of work.

The pupils then went on to create ‘Time Magazine’ themselves giving the teacher a chance to see what they could do unaided.

The result was excellent ‘deep’ learning and an output that most pupils were genuinely proud of. 

– Mind you not everyone did it the same way so a useful opportunity to demonstrate the creation of properly formatted page borders was missed 😉

iPad Charging

Before I start reviewing apps for the ipad I need to clarify the situation about recharging the battery (as I understand it – no guarantees).

The battery for the iPad is fairly hefty (actually it’s two fairly hefty batteries) so it needs a fair bit of power to charge it (them) up effectively.  Apple recommend the special 10W charger –(this has double the power output from the iPhone charger).

Using anything less than the 10W charger is likely to trigger a ‘not charging’ message from the iPad – HOWEVER – it usually does charge anyway, just very slowly.

A normal USB port will only provide around 0.5W so is nowhere near enough to charge the iPAD – it might be possible to get up to 2.5W from a USB port but still this is WAY under the 10W needed. This would seem to suggest that you cannot sync your iPad and charge it at the same time but THIS IS WRONG.  The iPad does receive a small charge from a standard USB port – in sleep mode it might typically get about 5% charge an hour.  With the screen switched on I suspect that the charge will just about keep pace with the drain so there will be no charging but also no drain – effectively.

My understanding is that USB3 will provide 5W at least to each port (which is why it needs a connection to your computer PSU) and will probably provide an effective charge AND allow syncing.

As a final note – there is a ‘dongle thing’ you can buy that hides the ‘Not Charging’ message (I don’t know how) – I seriously doubt that it’ll make it charge any faster though because it doesn’t have any power source.  Save your money.


The iPad

I’ve had an iPad for a couple of months now and thought it was about time to make a few observations.

Every now and again some new technology appears that creates a new ‘genre’.  Interactive Whiteboards did this, and iPods did it, I think that the iPad has done it again.

The iPhone was a really good phone and the ‘apps’ idea was inspired.  The interface was excellent but I never felt that I was missing out by not having one – I could do most of what the iphone did on my smartphone, in some cases I could do it better.  I have tried different mp3 players however and have to say that the ipod range is best (shame about iTunes though).

The iPad is different.  The size makes it much more suitable for me to use it as a ‘multimedia reader’.  I can read blogs, music, video, books, website, maps, games etc with total ease.  The speed of ‘instant on’ make this quick and easy and you can do almost everything in seconds (no training, configuration etc).

I find myself using the iPad for all my day to day ‘stuff’ – checking my diary, email etc (from Exchange), for reading blogs (presented in a beautiful ‘magazine’ format).  I can type on it fairly well but I’m not a huge fan of the keyboard.  It’s great, really great.  Would I pay £400 for one?  possibly not (thought I’d like one for Christmas).

How about use in school?  Well ….

I’m not convinced that this is THE tool for schools yet.  Sure Apple have some excellent devices for schools to keep them all charged and synchronised and there are masses of powerful apps and excellent ways of using the iPad – really good but probably in moderation at the moment.  For a teacher however I can see this as being a really powerful tool and I could quite see teachers using iPads all the time.

This is a move towards the school providing the infrastructure for personal devices though and this box of tricks definitely furthers the argument.  Schools are going to have to be right up to date with their policy on personal devices and have their wifi networks up to scratch.

I will post a few of my favourite apps over the next few weeks to give you an idea of what I’m using at the moment.  I’ve added a new ‘category’ to help you filter these in or out …..  As usual please let me know what you think.

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