Category Archives: ipod touch


iOS devices

One question I get asked again and again by colleagues in the sector is how should institutions purchase apps for their iOS devices.

The easiest solution before, was to move the entire institution to the USA, buy the apps using the volume purchasing programme and then move back…

What most people did was either:

a) rely on free apps only, which was a pain if there were apps you wanted to buy or relied on in-app purchases.

b) spend their own money on apps, easy to do, but not everyone wanted or could afford to do this, and certainly wasn’t a practical solution on shared devices.

c) give users iTunes gift cards which were then used to buy apps. This did rely on trusting the users to buy the apps and not go out and buy music and films.

d) breach their iTunes agreement, buy an app once and then load it onto multiple devices. You can do this with your own devices, but according to the iTunes agreement wasn’t a viable option for educational devices.

So I am finally pleased to see that Apple have launched their Volume Purchase Programme in the UK.

The Volume Purchase Programme allows educational institutions to purchase iOS apps in volume and distribute them to students, teachers, administrators and employees.

Apple Volume Purchase Programme

It is worthwhile reading the FAQ to see how this works.

The process looks quite simple, a nominated individual in the institution (and there can be more than one) buys apps in volume using a corporate credit card.

The institution then  gets a series of codes which can be redeemed in the iTunes store for the app purchased by either staff or learners. Mobile device management (MDM) software can also facilitate this distribution.

This ensures that the institution is staying within the terms of the iTunes agreement, that staff and learners don’t need to spend their own money on the app and that the users also have direct access to the app.

What is useful to know is that for app purchases, education institutions have the option of redeeming one app code per iTunes authorised computer, or “sync station,” and retaining the rest of the codes as proof of purchase. So they can then do the d) option, buy the app once and load onto a series of devices.

One limitation is that the programme does not cover in-app purchases, this was often a way of upgrading free lite versions to the full version, but now you can buy the full version.

I am pleased to see this programme finally in the UK and it should support those people and institutions rolling out iOS devices in their colleges and universities.

ToonPAINT – Free this weekend

I have reviewed ToonPAINT – Toon-FX before here.

ToonPAINT allows you to easily create awesome looking cartoon-paintings with your own photos.

Simply import a photo, create an “automagic” sketch of the photo, color-in at your leisure, and you’re done!

This weekend the app is free, so you might want to go and get it!

I have said a few times in the past that I sometimes think the best Apps for the iPhone are the simple ones, the ones that do one thing well.

ToonPAINT does exactly what you think it does, convert photographs (from the camera or the library) and convert it into a comic format. The key is that it does it very well and the end results do look like hand drawn comics.

The process in ToonPAINT is very simple, take a photograph, either with the camera or from your image library, the app converts it into a comic format, you then save it!

You can also colourise the resulting comic using a built in palette to create coloured comics. There are two extra in-app purchase tools, ToonColor and Photo Brush both are 59p each. I think ToonColor is worth buying, didn’t find Photo Brush as useful.

Overall I like ToonPAINT, it does what it does well and as a one trick pony, it does what I want it to do and it’s free this weekend.

ComicBook! – iPhone App of the Week

ComicBook! – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at various 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.

This week’s App is ComicBook!

ComicBook! is the FULL featured comic book creation app!

In only seconds, turn yourself and your friends into comic heroes or villains. Be the star in your own comic book adventures.

Realistic comic styling with a wide selection of: image filters, comic fonts, customizable captions, a library of classic comic graphics and dozens of multi-panel page layouts.


If you downloaded Halftone recently following my review of it a few weeks ago and are now looking to do something more than just the single image in Halftone then you might want to have a look at one of the more dedicated comic creation app.

If you have an iPhone or iPod touch then I would suggest you have a look at ComicBook!

It allows you to quickly create a comic strip using existing photographs or you can take some with your built in camera. You can, after choosing a layout add those images, either from the library or take them with the camera.

Continue reading ComicBook! – iPhone App of the Week

Merck PSE HD – iPhone App of the Week

Merck PSE HD – 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 Merck PSE HD

The “Merck PSE HD” iPad/iPhone application provides detailed information, state-of-the-art functions and an appealing presentation. It offers high-school and university students as well as teachers or professors the opportunity to learn more about the chemical elements – from classification to element features to their history of discovery. The powerful multi-lingual app renders complex contents intuitively comprehensible: the well-structured and concise arrangement of groups and periods, details for every element, intelligent controls, and numerous selection options provide quick access to needed information.

The periodic table of the elements is one of the most important references in chemistry. Here you will find data such as relative atomic mass, melting point and boiling point, density, appearance and additional properties for each individual element.


If you have the money and the bandwidth then The Elements App is certainly a wonderful example of the potential of the iPad. However it is for the iPad, it costs £9.99 and weighs in at a hefty 1.71GB.

If you are studying chemistry and want quick and easy access to the perodic table then there are other apps in the iTunes Store that fit the bill.

Merck PSE HD is one such App that is only 6.4MB in size, is free and is universal so will work on the iPhone, the iPod touch and the iPad.

It is what you would expect from such an app. It has the full perodic table, information on each of the elements and images of the elements.

These kinds of simple apps in my opinion is what makes the iPod touch work with learners, quickly and easily access information without needing to boot up the computer, open the laptop or find that specific site using a browser.

New iPod touch

Apple have announced their Fall (or Autumn) line up of iPods for the holiday season. In what is becoming a traditional annual announcement, Apple showed is their new iPod shuffle that looks like a second gen model (it has buttons), a new square iPod nano that has got smaller, lost the camera and video playback of the previous version and a new iPod touch that now has many of the features of the iPhone 4G.

The new iPod touch probably has the biggest interest for education users and as it now comes with a camera as well as a much nicer display will be much more useful for various educational activities. Moving from the iPod touch to an iPhone eighteen months ago I was totally impressed with the impact having a camera had, though the iPhone 3G camera was pretty weak as cameras go, it allowed me to do so much more than just having the older iPod touch. The cameras on the 3GS and 4G iPhones are even better and are great for shooting video or taking images. I am looking forward to using the new HDR feature on the iOs 4.1 upgrade available next week. However the new camera on the new iPod touch is not in the same league as the iPhone 4G camera or even the original iPhone 3G camera! It will be okay for shooting video and taking low quality stills. However this is probably going to be okay for most education users. You can always use a proper digital camera for taking photographs, the iPod touch is so much more than just a camera.

iOS 4.1 does make the iPod touch more than just a camera or a media player, with all the apps available, wifi and the web at a touch of the button, there is so much about the iPod touch that makes it idea for enhancing and enriching the learning experience. For some learners this will be their “main” computer.

The new model has increased in price with the base 8GB model now at £189, though it should be remembered that the previous 8GB model was the previous generation (i.e second generation) and was re-introduced alongside the third generation iPod touch in September 2009. This new 8GB model is the fourth generation iPod touch; maybe that accounts for the extra £30! Over that 8GB model it has a lot more memory, 512MB compared to 128MB, a faster processor and a better battery life.

The key really is will learners be buying this device? Probably.