iPhone

Story app

blogEntryThumbnailYesterday, Disney announced a new iPhone app called Story. Story is a free storytelling app that allows you to add text and a theme to a collection of your photos and/or videos. After you’re done with your story, you can share it via email or Facebook. The recipient of your story is then able to view it on the app’s website.

I like the Story app because it has a clean design and is easy to use. However, I do have a few requests to make the app even better for everyone (including individuals with special needs):
  • iPad version
  • Record audio
  • Select text to speak with highlighting
  • VoiceOver accessibility for the in-app help and images in stories



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5 ways to use Apple voice dictation

blogEntryThumbnailAs I've had access to voice dictation on my Apple MacBook Pro and iPhone for the last year or so, I have been using it more and more to increase productivity (as long as it’s working properly). I use voice dictation several times each day for leisure and professional purposes. Here are 5 ways that I use voice dictation on the MacBook Pro and iPhone:

1. Composing multi-paragraph documents

Since it can be difficult for me at times to begin writing a multi-paragraph document, voice dictation gets me started and keeps me going when writing blog posts, reports and proposals. I just have to remember to dictate formatting (e.g., “new line,” “new paragraph”) and punctuation statements (e.g., “comma,” “period,” “question mark”), then proofread the document carefully for dictation errors. Otherwise, the document appears as a poorly formatted written composition with typos.

It’s also important to note that voice dictation can only convert a limited amount of speech (approximately 30s) to text. It takes some time to feel comfortable with continually activating voice dictation after each chunk of text is converted. Just remain patient and you will soon see how composing sentences and paragraphs via voice is significantly faster than typing.

2. Brainstorming and reminding

When I have a thought that I don’t want to forget, I use voice dictation to brainstorm ideas and set reminders. Whether I have a good idea for an app feature, or I need to remember to take out the trash, voice dictation enables me to do either quickly. The efficiency is great because I’m typically in the middle of doing something else.

3. Calendaring events

Using Siri (the intelligent iOS assistant), I can quickly and easily schedule an event such as a staff meeting. For example, I can activate Siri and say, “Schedule a staff meeting for Tuesday, April 9th at 2 PM.” Then, all I need to do is confirm the event and configure additional options such as an alert.

4. Finding contact information for businesses

If I’m somewhere unfamiliar, I can use Siri to help me find a business. For example, if I’m on a work trip and I want to go out for food, I use Siri to ask, “Where are nearby restaurants?” The results provide nearby restaurant information with hours, a map, and reviews from Yelp to help me find quality food.

5. Texting and emailing

Texting is very easy with voice dictation, especially since abbreviations are acceptable input and punctuation is rarely necessary. Emailing with voice dictation has a slightly higher learning curve, but it’s not impossible. Similar to writing multi-paragraph documents, it’s important to use dictation commands for formatting and punctuation. Additionally, it may seem a little strange at first to dictate emails when others are around, but it soon feels similar to talking on the phone in public.
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Apple iOS 6 update - considerations and issues for apps

blogEntryThumbnailOn September 19, 2012, Apple will have their iOS 6 update available via the desktop iTunes app, or over-the-air on iOS devices. The update is compatible with the iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2, iPad 3, and the fourth generation iPod touch. If you plan to update to iOS 6, be cautious about doing it immediately because your 3rd party apps could have issues. In many cases, developers need to update their apps to be compatible with iOS 6. If their apps are not updated for iOS 6 support, bugs and crashes can occur. The problem for developers, including myself, is that the iOS 6 gold master (final beta for testing) was released one week ago. This means that developers only had a week with the gold master and their apps to test, fix, submit, and receive Apple approval. Well, that can be quite difficult when the average app review time is currently 9 days!

For users, choosing to update to iOS 6 is appealing, but it’s important to think carefully about when to update. Like other people, I’m eager to get the great new features from Apple including Maps, Passbook, Guided Access, and more. But, if I wasn’t a developer and I had to do a presentation in the next week or therapy that required extensive iOS device use, I likely would wait at least a couple weeks to update to iOS 6. That way developers have a sufficient amount of time for Apple to approve app updates supporting iOS 6.

As an app developer, I have four apps that needed to be updated for iOS 6 support. StoryPals, ArtikPix, and ArtikPix - Full updates have been submitted to Apple and are currently waiting for review. And an update for PhonoPix - Full will be submitted in the coming days. The updates will resolve the following known issues in the existing versions of my apps running iOS 6:

StoryPals (On 9/20/12, Apple approved the update for iOS 6 support)
- Text-to-Speech does not play continuously in stories
- Taking/using photos cause a crash

ArtikPix/ArtikPix - Full/PhonoPix - Full (On 9/22/12, Apple approved the ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full updates for iOS 6 support. On 10/5/12, The PhonoPix - Full update for iOS 6 support was approved by Apple.)
- Voice recording causes the apps to freeze
- Unnecessary comma in timestamps for scores
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ArtikPix - Full Giveaway

blogEntryThumbnailTo coincide with my upcoming CSUN presentation, I’m doing an ArtikPix - Full giveaway for 3 promo codes, valued at $30 per code. ArtikPix - Full is a fun speech articulation app for iPhone and iPad.

Please complete the following two steps now to become eligible for the giveaway:
Winners will be selected on Wednesday, February 29 at 5 PM PST. Three names will be randomly chosen using the Names in a Hat app, then announced on my Facebook page.

CSUN Conference details:
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM PST
ArtikPix & PhonoPix on iPad for speech groups
Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, CA, Rm. Emma AB
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BubCap home button covers


I want to share the BubCap home button covers for iOS devices. A BubCap is like a rigid sticker that is placed over the home button so children (especially children with sensory needs) cannot accidentally exit an app. Although the BubCap protects the home button from children, adults are still able to press it for navigational purposes–though, my wife seemed to have a hard time with this.

The BubCap cover comes in a pack with three different rigidities based on the child’s age and the type of iOS device used. The company suggests that the regular BubCap is for toddlers with iPhone and iPod touch; the BubCap Ultra is for toddlers with iPad or older children with iPhone and iPod touch; finally, the BubCap Max is for older children with iPad. However, my preference is to use the BubCap Ultra on any iOS device. The BubCap Max feels too rigid even for an adult to press.

The BubCap works by peeling off the backing and then placing it on top of your iOS device home button. Once the BubCap has been adhered, let it sit for about 15 minutes before use. Then, you’re ready to go. When you no longer need the BubCap, you can peel it off with you fingernail (applying slow steady pressure) and dispose of it or save it for future use.

As the company website says, BubCaps make a great stocking stuffer and they start at $5 for a 4-pack. BubCaps are well made and a good solution to help children stay within an app.

Disclosure: The author was provided with a complimentary 6-pack of BubCaps for demonstration purposes.
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Homework sheets for ArtikPix

blogEntryThumbnailAmanda Backof, Speech-Language Pathologist who runs speechlanguageneighborhood.com, has created homework sheets for ArtikPix. The sheets can be downloaded on her website at http://www.speechlanguageneighborhood.com/articulation/. I also thought I would provide the download links here to the homework sheets:

Initial/Medial/Final P
Initial/Medial/Final B
Initial/Medial/Final F
Initial/Medial/Final K
Initial/Medial/Final G
Initial/Medial/Final S
Initial/Medial/Final Z

The downloadable documents are available as of 11.17.11. Check Amanda’s website in the future for updates. She is planning to add more homework sheets.

Terms of use stated by Amanda: Thanks to Symbolstix for allowing us to make these available for personal use [not for re-sale] under the terms of our subscription.
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App Gap

blogEntryThumbnailI was asked to share a link to an article titled 15 Telling Facts About the App Gap: http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2011/11/14/15-telling-facts-about-the-app-gap/. The "App Gap" refers to children of low socioeconomic status who do not have access to mobile devices and apps. Affluent children who have more access to apps might be receiving a more enriching learning environment. I believe that there's likely truth to this notion, however the article proceeds to explain that more time with apps can be harmful to child development and learning. Harmful, huh? That's pretty strong language which I question.

In the article, apps are consequently compared to TV and DVDs, a comparison which I disagree with. I feel that apps provide active learning environments vs. passive environments provided by TV shows and DVD movies. Due to the various interactions in apps (e.g., tapping, dragging, shaking, tilting, etc.), children immerse themselves in very enriching learning environments. This rings especially true for many disabled children who prefer to read and write with technology including mobile devices due to the motivating platform, not to mention built-in supports.

Although I don't agree with everything in this article, I still wanted to share a link to it because it does pose food for thought. It provides some interesting ideas to consider when determining the use of mobile devices and apps with children.
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