We had our family summer holiday in France this year and although I have plenty of French words stored in my head (thanks to my grammar drilling French teacher Miss Chettle), my pronunciation is terrible. In fact, it’s a bit like watching one of those comedy movies where someone totally out of their depth tries to speak a foreign language and ends up shouting and pointing everywhere. Thankfully for me, Triomphe, a new iPad app aimed at teaching French to school children has been recently released.
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Here’s the dream I’ve had for the iPad for a few years now: I head to a café and pull the tablet with its Smart Cover out of my bag and start to write. I don’t just mean write emails, but write little stories and blog posts over a period of an hour or two. I want to be able to forget I’m using a tablet touchscreen to write. I want to be productive and comfortable while I type.
Out of the keyboards available at the launch of iOS 8, I think Fleksy is the closest to realizing this dream, and $0.99 is a laughable cost to pay for the efficiency this keyboard brings to the iPad.
Incredible Typing Experience
Fleksy doesn’t have any sort of swipe integration, but it does have gestures embedded into the keyboard. You swipe left to erase the word you just wrote, swipe right to add a space, and swipe down to select from auto correction suggestions. Fleksy definitely has a learning curve because you can still correct the previous word while you’re typing a new one out, but it really flies as a touch typing keyboard after a bit of practice. For once, I feel like auto correction is working for me, instead of against me.
I also think this is the best fit for typing because it’s the closest keyboard for mimicking the speed of typing on a physical keyboard. Swiping with Swype is great on my iPhone but it’s just a bit too much screen space to cover on my iPad’s 10″ screen. Touch typing with six fingers just feels more comfortable than any other software keyboard I have ever tried, and it’s proving to be more comfortable as well, since my hands never have to wander very far from the keys to make corrections.
The only major improvement I want at this point is easier access to numbers. I want to be able to tap and hold keys to enter numbers and symbols. At the moment these are all hidden in a different view of the keyboard, whereas other third party keyboards make these keys available via gestures. There’s also no gesture or button to hide the keyboard, which is a strange oversight.
Keyboard are definitely still a little unstable on iOS. Sometimes they’ll crash between apps or stop working altogether, but I think that will be fixed by an iOS update sooner rather than later. Even if Fleksy was the only one available at launch, I’d already be very happy. It’s leaps and bounds better than QuickType, and I love the simplicity of being able to pull the iPad out and write without any additional accessories.
Presentation software. You either love it, or live with it. There isn’t too much in between. For years PowerPoint was the market leader, but the goliath of the PC presentation world hasn’t really kept up with presenting in the mobile world. It has left a niche in the market for other developers to leap in to banish WordArt, Clip Art and crazed animations to the same place that Clippy the paperclip now resides. There are lots of decent iPad presentation apps available. Keynote is probably the best known, but others like Haiku Deck, SlideShare and now FlowBoard EDU are adding some well thought out features to presenting on the iPad. [click to continue reading…]
One of my friends has just become a head teacher for the first time and she asked me if there were any decent handwriting recognition apps on the iPad which would enable her to turn her handwriting into text to save typing up notes after her meetings. I thought carefully about this and nothing sprung to mind, certainly nothing which would beat the performance of her Galaxy Note and S-pen. Handwritten note taking is really the one weak link that the iPad has and although styluses have come a long way recently, I wasn’t so sure about handwriting recognition. After a search online, I found three contenders for the iPad crown; Notes Plus, WritePad Pro and MetaMojiNote. Here they are, in order of greatness. [click to continue reading…]
Back to School. The phrase that strikes horror into students (and teachers) of all ages up and down the land. Back in the day, there was the excitement of writing neatly on the first page of your new exercise book, and then slightly less so on the second page which was not quite so nicely padded on all those leaves of fresh paper. Now, many students are just as likely to walk into the classroom with a piece of tech as they are with a pencil case. Here are the top 5 cost effective, paper busting productivity apps for a student going back to school in 2014 armed with an iPad, in no particular order. [click to continue reading…]