Release of Socrative iTunes U course.

Many of us use Socrative in our classrooms. I have been encouraging colleagues to try and use it too but they are often reluctant figuring it is complicated. I was recently encourages to create this course and iBook by teachers who did take my word for it being easy and ended up trying it and loving it.

It just goes through the very basics but it’s enough to get teachers interested enough to try more!



App Review – Sphero Apps

Today’s I am going to review something a little different I am going to review Sphero iOS accessory and the associated Apps. Searching the App store for Apps to review I stumbled across Sphero Apps and at the time was disappointed that they required you to purchase a $100 accessory in order to use them.

I was lucky enough to get a present of a Sphero recently and was very excited to download the Apps. Sphero is a round ball which vibrates, changes color, floats in water and rolls around the floor when instructed by an App. It is very interactive and a user has full control over it. There are over 20 different Apps available and they vary from game Apps, music Apps, augmented reality Apps and an App for pets. The augmented reality and pets Apps appealed to me right away and were among the initial Apps I downloaded. The App for animals makes the ball vibrate and roll across the floor. My cat found it a lot of fun especially the boosts which make it move crazily across the floor and the function to change colors. The App did have her amused but this didn’t capture her attention as long as an 80cent feather toy from the pet store.

Sharky the Beaver is an augmented reality App and it was also a lot of fun and once you had your little character placed where you wanted you could throw donuts and cakes around the room. This worked very like string augmented reality Apps and was a lot of fun.

My favorite of the Apps is Sphero Exile which works pretty much like space invaders and you use the Sphero as a control for it.

You can also use your inbuilt device camera to record Sphero which is especially handy if your pet is playing with Sphero. For android users you can download Sphero cam App for iOS users the function is built into the Sphero App and can be activated in the bottom right corner options of the App

All in all Sphero is a lot of fun and I am glad I have given it a try. I do think it is overpriced and that $50 would have been more than enough to pay for it.

There are a few things that I do not like and this is mainly to do with the Apps. The website is very deceiving and says that there are over 20 free Apps. This does not mean there are 20 free Apps for iOS devices in fact there are actually  7 paid iOS Apps costing from 89cent there are also there are many Apps that are only available on the Google Play store and in reverse many not available for Google Play users. For iOS users there is a total of 18 available Apps 7 of which are free so the claim of over 20 free Apps should really be rephrased.

Another thing is the search function in the iTunes store. If you type in Sphero you will not get the full selection of Apps for example Sharky the Beaver is not shown. To get these Apps you then need to search further or look up their names.

All that being said if you have the spare cash I would recommend getting one. They are tons of fun for people (and animals!) of all ages.

To buy a Sphero check it out HERE

You can find available Apps HERE

What is Sphero? from Sphero on Vimeo.

App Review – The File Converter.

Today’s App Review is The File Converter by Ghost Mobile. There have been many times where I have landed myself in a situation where I have landed something in my Dropbox and left my Macbook at home without realising later that I will have to use a PC which many not be able to open a specific file created on my Mac. The most common issue I have is forgetting to export Pages documents to Word or PDF. My usual solution to this would be to open on my iOS device in Pages and export again. While this is a great and tried and tested solution I do need the Pages App. Another mistake would be forgetting to export something like a Photoshop .psd file which cannot be opened without the software itself.

The File Converter is great in situations like this and will takes files from your email or iOS device. Below are the options available.

  • Video Converter: Convert to 3GP, 3G2, AVI, FLV, MKV, MP4, MPEG-2, OGG, WEBM, and WMV
  • Document Converter: Convert to PDF, DOC, DOCX, TXT, ODT, FLASH and HTML
  • Audio Converter: Convert to MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA, AAC, FLAC, M4A, and MMF
  • E-book Converter: Convert to EPUB, MOBI, PDF, LRF, FB2, LIT, PDB, TCR
  • Archive Converter: Convert any file to ZIP, BZ2, 7Z, GZ

The App may not be one I would use all the time but definitely one that I can see saving me in emergency situations like the one described above. I can definitely see the e-book and documente conversion options being very useful.

The App costs €2.69 and can be downloaded  from HERE.

App Review – Posing App

Today’s App Review is Posing App by Sia Mendo. I have trained and had experience as a photographer so understand how important it is to having poses in mind when going on a photoshoot. Several situations arise when your mind would go blank and you cannot figure out what to do next. The most common issue I had was that a model was in a mood where she just did not want to be there so it was a major struggle getting good photos. Now as a photography teacher I see my students facing the same problems and this App is fantastic to have for those awkward moments or even just to look at beforehand for ideas.

The App contains sets of black and white line photos showing different suggestions for poses for all groups of people including children, women, men, couples, groups, wedding and glamour. Each set contains at least 20 different examples so there are plenty to choose from. You can add any ones you like to a favorites folder to access easily later.

As an added bonus the App also includes tips and tricks where it advises on different aspects of a shoot from the basics of using lighting to making your model feel a ease. There is also advice on photographing eyes, legs, body, head and hands as well as suggestions on composition and what equipment to use and avoid in certain situations. For examples it tells you the right aperture range to use for portrait shots.

The App is definitely an asset to any photographer whether you have been at it for years or just starting out.

The App can be downloaded from HERE.

App Review – Haiku Deck

Today’s App Review is Haiku Deck by Giant Thinkwell. When it comes to making presentations I have only ever used Microsoft Powerpoint or Apple’s Keynote with Keynote being my preference. I figure Keynote works so why change something that isn’t broken. I important animations and videos and may use Apps like Animoto or Video Scribe to liven them up but Keynote is always my template so when discovering Haiku Deck I wasn’t sure if it was something I would try and have or try and use after.
I have to say for a free App I am very impressed there are so many visual and text options available and I kept expecting a ‘to use this function you can purchase an in-app….” pop-up to appear but it didn’t. There were some themes that can be bought in bundle for €1.79 which I got to add some different options for myself. What I like is the simplicity of it. A picture says a thousand words and with Haiku Deck you can add backdrops from the in-app selection or choose from photos on your iPad or from your Social Media sites.

There are occasions where Haiku Deck is lacking the functionality when it comes to graphs that I get from Keynote but I am definitely going to use it for presentations and it will be a nice switch between for both me and my students who I am sure get tired after seeing hundreds of keynotes.

Once completed you can export the Haiku Deck to PDF, Powerpoint or Keynote as well as sharing via Social Media or Email and you can also embed it in a website. This accessibility to share is fantastic and leaps above what other presentation Apps offer.

Keynote will still be my default presentation creator but this App is definitely one to consider if you do a lot of presentations and are looking for something a little bit different. I will definitely be using it. It can be downloaded from HERE.

Meet Haiku Deck from adam tratt on Vimeo.

App Review – WhatsApp Messenger.

Today’s App Review is WhatsApp Messenger by WhatsApp. When I got my first iOS device I was so excited with Apps like Ping where I could message other iOS users for free and cut my texting costs after years of paid texts and watching my character numbers so I wouldn’t get charged tons I was excited to finally have them free. This was made even better when iMessage came out and I was able to message so many more people for free without a 3rd party App. WhatsApp is a 3rd party App but perfect as it is compatible with all smart phones so you can message friends with iOS or other branded smart phones if you get them to download the free App.

The App allows you to send pictures, videos, text and more just like any normal message would and also allows group messages. The App is free and has no hidden charges. The only requirement is that you have an internet connection. However, if you do loose connection don’t worry because the App will save the messages until you get your connection back. This is one failure I found with many similar Apps.

The App is free and can be downloaded from HERE then all you have to do is get your friends to do the same and there will be no stopping you.

App Review – Build-a-Card

Today’s App Review is Build-A-Card – Mother’s Edition by ISBX. So if like me you were too late to create and order a personlised card like those in Cards App which I reviewed yesterday I would definitely recommend trying out Build-a-Card Mother’s Day Edition. For 89cent the App allows you to insert a picture of your choice from your cameral roll or Facebook and also allows you to take a new one.

There are 20 different card templates to choose from and each one is different and original so if sending multiple they can be guaranteed to be different. After choosing your photo and template you can then add different clip-art with choices given from adding flowers to chocolates or even teddy bears. After all this is done you can also add your own text. What is handy is that the App gives you default text and all you have to do is rewrite or just edit the names. This is perfect for anyone who is stuck for words.

After your card is complete you can choose to share it via Facebook or Twitter, save it to your camera roll or email it.

Given all the different features I think this is a great deal for 89cent and hadn’t expected so many different options. Build-a-Card also have Apps for different occasions such as Christmas, Birthdays and Easter and having tried this one I will definitely consider those in the future.

To get the App you can download it from HERE and I hope everyone has a Great Mother’s Day.


App Review – Cards.

Today’s App Review is Cards by Apple. With Mother’s Day tomorrow I decided to try out a cards App and after trying quite a few terrible ones (which shall remain unnamed) I stumbled across Cards by Apple. First thing before I go further is how did I never know that Apple have a Cards App? The App is pretty cool and the Cards created will be send in traditional printed form rather than email or social media. The templates are nothing too flashy but you can add in your own images from your camera roll or take some new ones and add text. When it comes to adding text the one difficult I had was that the keyboard was over the area with the text so I couldn’t see the letters I was typing and ended up having to retype due to errors.

Unlike other free Apps the selection of template isn’t limited to a small set with others being available through in-app purchases. Instead there is a large selection. Each card can be customised both inside and outside and a customised envelop. Each card costs €4.49 for Apple print off and  to send out once completed which is a bit pricey given all the euro shops we have around these days hat you can get cards from but those cards aren’t customised and having seen the quality of Apples customised calendars I would imagine these cards to be of the same high quality.

So if you have a big birthday or occasion coming up or maybe you just want to say thank you then  why not consider Apples Cards App which can be downloaded for free from HERE.


App Review – Grid Diary

Today’s App Review is Grid Diary by Xiamen Sumi Network. Many of us have great intentions to keep a diary but few of us succeed or at least succeed in keeping the process up. Grid Diary makes this process so much easier. The App asks you questions each day which guide you along instead of your repeating yourself daily just for the sake of saying something. The questions vary from – “Did I spend enough time with my family today?” to ‘What were the three most successful things I ddi today?”  and you can pick and choose which ones to answer. There are also categories such as health and news which contain questions relevant to that category.

Once you type in your questions they then display on a grid so all you have to do is flick the screen to switch from day to day and find your past entries. You can also search a calendar for a specific date. You can also add the weather forecast for the day as well as rating how you felt that day which can be anything from awesome to bad.

There is no social media integration but you can email your entries and you can also send them to iCloud.

So if you have always wanted to keep a diary but never succeeded in the past you could give this a try it is certainly a lot more fun than the average blank piece of paper or word processing document.

The App costs €2.69 and can be downloaded from HERE




App Review – Instant Poetry HD

Today’s App Review is Instant Poetry by Razeware. With Instant Poetry everyone can be a poet. Whether you want to write a love poem, birthday wishes or just express your thoughts this App is the perfect way to create beautiful poetic creations. To begin you choose one of four different themes it offers these include – love, sadness, passionate or default. Once selected the App will choose a group of words associated with the theme and you can drag them wherever you are across the screen. The font can them be changed and you can add a background image of your choice.

Like I mentioned this is definitely a fast way to be creative. The downside I would find however is the fact that you have to rely on the words the App chooses according to the chosen theme and cannot just type in your own words which is a bit of a drawback as some other Apps do allow this.

The concept of the App is great but would be made better if the App did allow you to add in your own words as you could then add specific details like names which would make the poems more personal. Perhaps this may be considered for a future update.

This disadvantage does have one upside though in that if you are stuck for words at least the App is there to help it would just be great if both options were available.

The App costs €1.79 and can be downloaded from HERE