Category Archives: ipod touch

Dragon Dictation – iPhone App of the Week

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.

Get Dragon Dictation in the iTunes Store.

e-Learning Tech Stuff #003 – BBC News App

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

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.

Kindle gets sounds and vision…

Amazon have announced that certain Kindle titles will now have embedded video and audio.

However to enjoy these new “multimedia ebooks” you will need to view them on the iPhone, iPod touch or the iPad using the Kindle iOS4 App.

Amazon.com today announced a new update to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch, which allows readers to enjoy the benefits of embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books. The first books to take advantage of this new technology, including Rick Steves’ London by Rick Steves and Together We Cannot Fail by Terry Golway, are available in the Kindle Store at http://www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.

Though Together We Cannot Fail is not actually available to buy for customers from the UK!

Probably not obvious to most, these titles with embedded audio and video, though can be read on the Kindle device, will not play the audio and video.

This does beg the question, does Amazon believe that the future of Kindle titles is on the iOS4 platform, on the iPad and the iPhone? Or will we see a more enhanced Kindle in the future that can play the embedded audio and video in these new titles?

Amazon have recently reduced the price of the Kindle, this may be an indication of either of those two points of view.

We will have to wait and see.

National Trust – iPhone App of the Week

There is much debate at the moment about the growth of Apps versus the web. Especially paid apps versus free web content.

But, after 15 years as the net’s publishing platform of choice, a movement is growing that wants to put the web back in its box.

Blame the ‘app’. With little prior culture of mobile web consumption, publishers have barely given their HTML efforts five minutes in the sun before preferring to code snazzy, custom, closed interfaces instead in the likes of Xcode and Objective-C, in iPhone’s case.

This isn’t really the article for this debate (maybe later) however the reason I bring this up, is this week’s App of the Week, which is about an App that replaces a web site. I don’t think this is an issue, but does cloud the debate over Apps in that some Apps are there to complement web content and others replace it with an App that costs. Anyway onto the App…

National Trust – 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 National Trust

Fancy a day out and wondering where to go? Want to visit glorious coastline, wander through wild countryside, relax in exquisite gardens or explore historic houses? Find a National Trust place near you, wherever you are in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. See it on the map, find out opening times, prices and facilities and access information. Find nearby places, or choose from an A-Z list.

Free

All the information in the App is available online through the National Trust website.

So why on earth would you use the App?

Well though the website is fine, it’s a complicated site and hasn’t really been designed for a small mobile screen, despite the superior browsing capability of the iPhone.

Using the App means not having to worry about the busy web site and can focus on the content.

Well if you have an iPod touch and no connectivity, then this App does work offline in a manner, though you can access all the information (so it’s like a virtual National Trust handbook), but the maps don’t work!

The main reason for using the App is that it is a better experience than using the web site.

The App will find National Trust properties close to your location, using the location based capability of the iPhone (and iPod touch), though as mentioned you will need an internet connection to “see” the map.

It will give you information about the property and details on the facilities on offer.

You can browse an alphabetical list too.

Of course this is one useful App if you are a member of the National Trust, it’s also useful for when you are on holiday.

However I also think it has the potential for travel and tourism courses on looking at particular properties for the basis of activies for that subject.

  • Create a marketing plan for a National Trust property.
  • Devise a tour of National Trust properties in a particular region.
  • Undertake a SWOT analysis for the National Trust on a property close to the college.

If you have other ideas please let us know in the comments.

Though if you live in Scotland (or are going on holiday there) do take note…

Please note, this app does not include information from the National Trust for Scotland (NTS). The National Trust and NTS are two separate charities, run independently of each other. Our app is built using the data from our handbook, and as this does not include any NTS properties, we are unable to include this information.

Ah well.

Overall a nice App that does what it does well.