Mobiles and mobile apps are becoming more powerful every day. Back in August last year I downloaded and installed Universe. Clearly marked as a beta it allowed you to make verses, these were a grid of media that could be mixed: photos, video, text, maps and sounds. There was different types of interactivity and you could even put html and javascript in a verse.

I played around with this occasionally, mashing up the contents of my camera roll. The app crashed occasionally and the creations were only really visible inside the app. Still it was fun, and interesting to see what others made with it.

Yesterday I got a email, the betas was over and new version was out and it had changed tack. Universe was now a tool to build websites. I downloaded it and made a page within about 3 minutes: ‎john.onuniverse.com.

Hosting on an onuniverse.com subdomain is free, but you can pay for a domain.

When I tried the original betas version it felt as if the lack of publishing to the web was the main problem. This is now fixed. The new version lacks many of the interactive features of the beta, but it share the same easy to use interface. On creating or editing a page you have a 3 by 5 grid. Clicking on a square on the grid or dragging over several (so you can have a larger block) allows you to edit that square. You choose the type of content and then edit. Once you are finished a click or two and the site is published.

Publishing to the web from your phone is nothing new, I blogs from my iPhone, have edited sites with text editors and there are lots of ways to publish. Universe stands out as one of the easiest ways to put up a neat page quickly while on the go.

Adding further pages to your site is at the moment not as elegant as it could be, they don’t share the same sub-domain. There is no support for animated gifs (converted to jpgs), videos can only be 3 seconds long and loop in a gif like manner. I’d love to see support from some of the ways that the ‘old’ universe animated sections of the grid and sound could be played. I guess that might come. But overall this is a really nice way to make a website very quickly.

If you want a quick individual about me page for an event or to knock up a page for your days photos on the bus home, this is the app for you. I wonder too if it could be used in education. From a data protection pov I am not sure where it would stand, but it could be fun for pupils to build wee sites.

Featured image: combine screenshots of the app.

Some links:

The audio on this post was recorded and uploaded with the Workflow.app on my phone. The images were too. The posts was written in drafts and posted from there with a Workflow action.

Yesterday’s post was just about using workflow.app to post to a blog in a way that other tools can do. The method might suit some people’s needs better than using the WordPress app or the browser. It could be altered and improved too. But essentially it is just another way of doing something. I think this next step is a much bigger deal.

Workflow has actions that allow you to record audio or take video. It also has an encode media action.

record-encode-screenshot

This looked promising. I have now got a workflow that will record audio, encode to MP3 and upload to my blog.

I will end up with the link to the MP3 on the clipboard ready to paste into a post.

Getting the url to the MP3 took me a while to figure out. The action returns the url to the attachment page. I had to uses a few more actions to get the content of that page and then get the url to the MP3 with a regular expression. I don’t know much about regEx and less about the flavour used by Worpflow.app. I got there in the end.

workflow-regEx

A couple of OSs ago this seemed impossible on iOS. Now you can save an MP3 created with one of the myriad of audio apps to Dropbox, iCloud, one drive ect and upload through mobile safari.

I like to think this is a bit better. It is certainly a wee bit quicker if you do not need to edit the audio.

There were always apps that would record and publish audio to the Internet. What I like about this method is it goes along with the idea of owning your own data, posting to your own domain and having a little more control.

I am now wondering if it would be worthwhile seeing if you can trigger workflows from a draft.app custom script. This post on the drafts blog: Drafts 4.1.2 – Workflow Integration | Agile Tortoise makes it look as if that would be possible. This would turn the drafts app into a WordPress editor. One could upload images and audio directly from drafts, perhaps inserting the image or audio code at the insertion point.

Posting to WordPresss is pretty simple on the go. Recent versions of WordPress have a fairly good performance on Mobile Safari. the WordPress app performs a little better the body field is less ‘jumpy’ and uploading photos a little simpler.

There are a few other blogging apps but I’ve not stuck with any.

I tend to write posts in drafts as there is even less chrome and more space to type. It also has some clever shortcuts, helps with markdown and can do cleaver stuff with text and scripts.

A while back I noticed that the new version of Workflow had actions for posting to WordPress. I made some quick tests sand it seemed to do the trick.

Today I started thinking about it again. Workflow allows you to make posts, pages and media. When I tried uploading media I was disappointed that uploading an image returns the url to the attachment webpage rather than the attachment itself.

I’ve tried to extract the url form the page but the best I have is to extract all of the urls on the page and present this as a list to choose from. This is copied to the clipboard.

image upload

So I have an workflow that is an action extension. This allow me to pick a photo then run the workflow. It is presented as a document picker in other apps, for example pixelmator. When this workflow runs it resizes the image and uploads it to my blog. It then grabs the attachment page and pulls a list of links out of that. I can pick a link to copy to the clipboard.

Making a post

The next workflow I have is one for making a post. This runs from drafts.
It first set a variable to the draft. Then it shows the photo library. When a phot is picked it uploads the photo to the blog. As in the first script it downloads the attachment page, extracts the urls and let’s me pick one. This time the one picked is put in another variable.

The workflow then get the first variable, and posts it to the blog as a draft. It asks for a title and used the url to the uploaded image as the posts featured image.

It also asks for tags when it runs.

The featured image for this post is a couple of screenshots taken on my phone. They were stitched together with workflow and the result edited a bit in snapseed.

 

I was alerted to Anchor by Joe Dale.

I don’t think audio needs reanimated but…

Looks like an interesting app for mobile audio. Ease of use and the ability to reply seem to be the features they are going for. Setup was largely audio, for instance you don’t type your name, you speak it.

Pasting the link to a piece of audio into WordPress here embeds it, via oEmbed I guess. I can’t see any sign of RSS yet. I’ve not found the documentation yet either. Seems to be iOS/iPhone only so far.

They do say:

Once published, conversations can be shared as podcasts, and heard all over the web.

from: Anchor – True public radio – About Anchor

So I’d expect RSS to be involved somewhere. I am hoping for RSS for tags so that we could pull  them into Edutalk.

Recording is so easy that I made the above without much though, I’ll try again soon with more of a plan.

 

I’ve posted a few things here in reaction to the idea about banning mobiles in school: tagged: yesmobile.

Here is another reason for using mobile in learning:

I grabbed this video in the park this morning with my phone in the slowmo mode.

I would have though that the ability to do this outweighs the need to address problems of distraction?

A minute from: Raising the Digital Generation in Scotland – Chris van der Kuyl, Entrepreneur and Chairman of 4J Studios at the Scottish Learning Festival

…that is mental, that is absolutely mental that is like saying you cant carry a note book in school they are banned because you could write really seditious and crazy remarks in that notebook…  … to ban it is close to Luddism…

I’m catching up with this keynote from the Scottish Learning festival, here: SLF highlights – SLF 2015 1.

The whole talk is interesting and I’d recommend a watch/listen, but this jumped out.

The Audience seemed to suggest that a quarter to a half for schools banned mobile phones. I’d be interested in that statistic. Also what does ban mean? Does this suggest that half to three quarters allow mobiles for use in learning? That seems unlikely? Is it worse than Chris thinks?

The audio was ripped from Educations Scotland’s video, I am presuming that is ok as Fair UseInclusion for the purpose of news reporting“.

  1. I can’t see an easy way to link directly to the video

Still thinking about mobile technology.

When I was in my teens one of the things I was interested in was natural history. I was a keen contributor to the mammal society records.

To do this when ever I saw a mammal or a sign of one I would take a note. Later on I would complete a record sheet using an ordnance survey map to add the location. Every so often I would post these off by snail mail to the mammal society.
My technology was a pencil and notebook OS maps and a few books on identifying mammals by their bones, tracks and sign. I’ve still got the OS map with faint pencil scratching but the notebooks are long gone.

Now on my phone I have the Mammal Tracker App. Whenever I see an animal or sign of one I record that immediately. I can add a picture and the app will record the location. I send it to the mammal society with the click of a button.

This really lowers the bar for citizen science. I would imagine that this would be a great type of project to run in school.

Finally ios allows upload of files from more than the photo library. This is just the first mp3 I found in my Dropbox. It is a recording n Buchanian st. In Glasgow.

The more includes OneDrive for glow folk.

image

This opens up lost of possibilities for blogging and podcasting on the move.