I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to new features when an OS updates nowadays. But the other day I discovered the “photo shuffle” Lock Screen feature on my phone. Now every time I unlock my phone I see another random image. I picked nature as the subject. I am not sure what algorithm is picking the photos but the results are delightful.
A bunch of parakeets were settling down for the night in Victoria Park this evening. A quick recording with a bit is speach at the end. 🎙
Recently I was being Pedantic about Podcasts. Trying to point out that the important thing about podcasts is the way they are distributed making it is be easy to listen as we wash the dishes or drive to work.
I posted about this before: EDUtalk: How to Listen.
Once you get this set up to be automatic it makes listen to podcasts as easy as listening to the radio.
I started way back, syncing podcasts to an iPod. One I got my first iPhone I used that, trying a few different apps before settling on Overcast.
A few weeks ago I deleted Overcast as I was running out of space to record a movie, planning to reinstall ASAP.
Last week as I went to do this, on a whim, I spent £3.99 on Castro 2 instead. It turns out that this app matches my listening habits better than overcast. I’d guess, from memory, it has less settings and options but that is not a bad thing.
I listen to podcasts mostly on my 45 minute commute home. I am interested in more podcasts than would fill that amount of time. Castro lets me subscribe to a bunch of podcasts and queue up (and download) only the episodes I want to hear. It does this in a very simple way.
- New episodes from the feeds I am subscribed to get listed in my inbox.
- From there you can quickly add then to your queue, at the end or at the top. At this point they get downloaded.
- You can set any feed to have its episodes automatically added to the queue.
- You can archive episodes, you don’t loose them but they get out of the inbox.
- You can queue episodes from your archive or the discovery tab. That means you can search or paste the url to a podcast into the discovery tab and see the episodes, you can add one to the queue without subscribing.
Once in the queue you can rearrange the episodes and they play in order. Each moves to the archive after it is played. Importantly for me, the next queued episode plays automatically.
Bonus, as you add an episode to the queue there is a nice wee animation as seen in the featured image of this post (my image is a gif, speed and quality are not reflections of the app.)
Periscope is a new video streaming service that hooks up through your Twitter account. It seems to have stolen a march over its rival Meerkat: Periscope v. Meerkat: Our Initial Re/action | Re/code
I gave periscope a quick test yesterday afternoon. In a break in the rain I headed to The Whangie for a quick walk. When I got to the Whangie itself I had I blob of 3G on my phone so without much hope I fired up periscope.
I was quite surprised that I seemed to connect and started walking and talking. I could not really see the screen due to lack of reading glasses and s rain speckled screen but I think a few people connected.
After nearly four minutes I finished. He app seemed to be trying to upload the video? Given the poor connectivity I was not surprised that it failed. The video was saved to my camera roll though.
Later reviewing the video I see that I made the mistake of assuming periscope would do landscape videos. The video look like a misty day in minecraft, I guess quality is decided by connection?
I’ve watched a few other streams and the quality has been a lot better than mine. It is quite strange watching random streams as folk try to figure out what is going on. I did see a broadcast of a ‘sporting’ event from quite nearby as swimmers in wetsuits tackled the Maryhill canal locks.
Educationally, what is this good for? Perhaps live links beamed back into classrooms from field trips or broadcasting egg incubators out to pupils at home after school.
The app is optimised for iOS 7.1 or later and iPhone 5 and up which I guess rules out my old iPhone 4 for experimenting with.
Why use it rather than other streaming apps, ease of use first and perhaps the low bandwidth requirements.
I quite enjoy scripts and things that make my computing life a we bit easier. I’ve blogged a few times about AppleScript which I find very handy on my mac. On my iPhone I’ve never really found a way of automating things that stuck with me. I’ve downloaded and played with a few apps, but mostly they have felt a bit too convoluted for me.
I do regularly combine application to get a result, the so called app smashing, although I prefer the less destructive sounding playflow (I think I am the only person who does).
I’ve now found an application which looks like making this sort of thing on iOS a bit simpler: Workflow.
Workflow is more like Automator than AppleScript as it uses the same sort of block steps. You can combine any of the actions to create workflows. These steps or rather actions can deal with images, text, maps in all sorts of ways.
The think that makes this application stand out is that it has arrived hot on the heels of the iOS 8 improvements to inter application communication. You can set the application to the a Action Extension, this means it can be run from the share sheet in other applications. As you can set the input for a workflow to accept different things you can control the sheets where it will show.
In the screenshot below I’ve selected 2 photos and then hit the share button. When I click the Run Workflow button I can choose a workflow from the next screen(shown on the right) . In this case one choice is a simple workflow I made to downsize image an save it to the camera roll.
These workflows are made by dragging and dropping action blocks onto a workflow. Workflows can be set to be run from a icon added to your home screen, the Launch Center app or from share sheets in other apps. The latter can be set to accept different types of data and will then show up in the appropriate apps.
So far I’ve only made a few very simple workflows with two or three block, but there is potential to loop and have if-then type decision making.
There are over 150 actions you can use to build a workflow:
I’ve only scratched the surface of workflow over the last week or so, but it looks like it could make iOS more fun and effective.
A few links:
I am not sure where I saw this technique mentioned first, it might have been: Build cheap panning camera mounts for time lapse photography, but there are plenty of other links: stop motion pano ikea timer – Google Search
Pretty simple idea, you use a cheap ikea kitchen timer with some stop motion app, I used iMotion HD.
The above is not a very long one, the midges made it pretty short. Here is the setup:
Doug Belshaw shows his iPhone apps and asks: Which apps do you recommend? Why? I started a comment but it got a wee bit long.
Instacast a podcatcher, I’ve not revisited apple’s podcast app, but instacast downloads on wifi, streams near the end of my data month, auto deleted old episodes with different settings per podcast.
FeeddlerPro, RSS reader, uses google reader at the moment. pretty good rss reader with customisable sharing menu. I mostly read RSS on my iPad but use the iphone one in odd moments.
FStream for listening to internet radio, mostly for checking Radio #EDUtalk and the odd listen to ds106rad.io
Drafts, is a great note taking app, lots of saving and exporting possibilities, twitter, dropbox and the like. Drafts can also use url actions to do lots of geeky stuff I’ve not really checked out so far.
Droptext, a dead simple text editor for dropbox, I use this and drafts to save various text files to dropbox that trigger folder action AppleScripts on my mac. The most useful takes a url, finds any audio files linked on the webpage and adds them to a rss feed in dropbox. Instacast is subscribed to this feed. this allows me to listen to single episodes of podcasts without subscribing to the podcasts own feed. I use drafts for this too.
Scratch another text editor, a wee bit like drafts, but the notes persist, so I use it for shopping lists, and taking notes at meetings if I only have my phone.
Wifi-photo transfer. there are a few of these apps tht let your phone act as a webserver for you photo library. Very handy for getting an image from the phone to one or more desktops.
Trails, produces lovely gps trails, shows you where you are. I love trails
Apple maps I’ve been finding is not as bad as it is painted. I usually use the free UK and ROI satnave app but maps is handy as it connect to your Contacts app. Unlike Doug I use the contacts: having the 120 or so schools I deal with in there, including details like addresses, head teacher’s names, IP addresses and clues to wifi passwords.
Other apps in daily or regular use include: clock (for cooking), FirstClass (work email), weather, mail, safari, google maps, dropbox, 1 password, twitter, tumblr, instagram and cinemagram.
Apps I use less regularly, iMovie, sonicpics, audioboo, flixel, skitch, icab mobile, wordpress, a bunch of todo apps(I’ve never managed to get this organised but am always trying), chrome, thetrainline, lots of photo apps and recording apps.
I note that I use a quite different set of apps on the ipad, a lot more typing and creating there.
The icons in this post were grabbed via appleScript from my mac’s mobile apps folder, and quickly resized, I blogged about this: iOS Icon Extraction
And I took a quick trip through my screens and posted on flickr: iPhone Apps – a set on Flickr
I am pretty keen on posting photos to the Internet, not because I have great interest (or any skill) in photography but as an alternative, to blogging, way of recording events. I’ve been using flickr since 2004 and am currently enjoying instagram (mine via api) and posterous
Mostly I take photos with my phone (the best camera). Recently I’ve been testing the ways apple gives you to post photos from an iOS device.
Public Photo Stream
I’ve become a fan of photo stream,
When you take photos on an iOS device or import photos from your digital camera to your computer, Photo Stream will automatically upload it so it is available on all your devices.
You can also publish photos to a public photo stream.
Here is a guide to making a public photo stream. Click to see a bigger version:
And here is the photo stream:
Ben Challum – Photo Stream. These are simple and quick to create and easy to share.
For these you ned to buy iPhoto. There are a wee bit more complex and interesting as you can include a variety of different elements, including, map, weather, notes and the like.
Again they are pretty straightforward to create and upload. Here are much the same photos as a journal: Ben Challum.
Here is the gallery, created on an iPad viewed in iPhoto on a iPhone
Photo Stream vs Journal
On thing I noticed with photo stream was that you could post a link, before the photos are uploaded. With iPhoto journals you have uploaded the whole journal before you can share the link. You can share a photo stream privately, although I don’t think I would. Both produce online sites with pretty horrible urls (eg: https://www.icloud.com/journal/#2;CAEQARoQpdbIWlofBmKRAh_cPbtctA;09537452-2A80-49C7-A86F-71E8734846CF!).
Photo stream is quicker, with less choice, with a journal you can edit the layout of photos easily (especially easy on an iPad). Journals have more features for telling a story by adding non photographic information. The photo stream seem to be designed to share photos as you go.
I could see the photo stream being used by a class or group to share photos and images with each other as they go allowing them to work on or use images created on classmates devices as they are created. It is simple to add images to a shared photo stream over a period.
Shared Photo Streams don’t count against your iCloud storage, and they work over Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
Apple – iCloud – photo stream. Realistically I doubt there are many cellular devices in our classrooms.
Journals are more suit to creating artefacts, perhaps using photos gather via photo stream. Journals allow the addition of text, editing of layout and look like an interesting way to tell a story, record some learning and share it, a fairly easy way to create a image heavy, attractive mini Web site.
Thus far and no further
Apart from the lengthy and un-rememberable urls the other thing I don’t like is the locked in aspect of the sharing. There is on api or RSS feed that could be used take the images and reposition them, but I suppose that is what flickr is for.
Flickr Export from iPhoto
This is pretty good, it is easy from iPhoto on iOS to send images to flickr, create sets and tagging photos as they go, here are the same pictures on Flickr: Ben Challum – a set on Flickr and flickr makes it easy to repurpose the images:
above updated 18 Oct 2022, the object/flash embed code replaced by the url to the set!
Although both photo stream and journals provide slideshow views there is no way, as far as I can see, to show these elsewhere.
I still like to play with putting photos on a map: A Mapped Walk and a have a reasonable workflow that let me put that together in about 20 minutes. I also like messing with panos so here is one from the same walk:
Ben Challum Pano.
I’ve been aware of Radiowaves for a long time, it was one of the inspirations for Radio Sandaig and started me podcasting. I have not followed the development of the site with a great deal of attention but have been aware that it has been evolving in interesting ways. This is what they say about themselves:
Radiowaves is the social learning environment that provides social media for education. It enables schools to create and safely share videos, podcasts and blogs. With a free Radiowaves website you can easily start school blogging, join national campaigns and develop digital literacy skills.
Over 50,000 pupils use Radiowaves regularly to broadcast their school podcasts and videos to friends and family via the safe social network.
I’ve also met Mark Riches CEO at Radiowaves (and founding director of NUMU which looks interesting too) a few times over the years and he talked about RadioWaves on EDUtalk at BETT. At that point he told me that they were working on an iOS app and I asked him to let me know when it came out. On Friday he did. I am really impressed with this free app.
I’ve not really got my head round the Radiowaves site, its features and how teacher and pupils sites work together, but I love the app and though it worth posting some information about it.
You can get a free account at Radiowaves, this allows unlimited blogging for a school but you are limited to 30 minutes of audio and video. I created a free account to test this app. I didn’t read any of the help or explanations either in the app or online, just clicked around.
The app is called Makewaves (iTunes link) and is free. It runs on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. On the ipad it runs as an iphone sized app but can be used at 2x size to fill the screen.
I really like the look and feel of this application. Simple and straightforward.A lot of recent apps that I’ve downloaded seem to be simpler and cleaner looking, less 3d drop shadows and gradients, more space and less colour.
The app is split into 5 main sections accessed through the toolbar along the bottom:MakeWaves, Buzz, Post, My Stuff and Settings.
The MakeWaves screens shows three streams of posts from the site, primary, secondary and Things to Do. Clicking on thumbnails lets you access the content on the app.
The section I was really interested in was the Post one, but before I went there I need to visit the Settings and add my account details, this was straightforward although I didn’t notice the setting for default item which was story rather than blog. I am still not too sure of the difference between the two.
As soon as I saw the Post screen I liked it. 4 simple buttons at the top to upload media, Pictures from the camera roll, video, audio and the camera. The video button lets you choose from the camera roll or take a new video.
In seconds I had taken screenshot, used the Photo button to choose it, written a line of text and posted it.
I followed by testing the audio button, the app lets you record a sound and upload it, again a very straightforward process.
I then tested Video, and used an iPad and iPod Touch as well. All preformed beautifully.
Later on I used 3g to post a short audio file from outside. It worked a treat, uploading quickly.
An interesting feature of the app and radiowaves generally is the teacher approval. I was acting, I think, as both teacher and pupil so had to approve my own posts. The process is pretty simple on the radiowaves site and there is a in app purchase (£1.49) that lets you approve your pupils on the Buzz screen.
The My Stuff screen gives you a view of your stories and blogs, lets yuo know the ones that are still awaiting approval and the work of others in your station. You can also see if anyone liked your work.
The setting screen is straightforward, the place you can log in, easy too to log out and allow the same device to be used by more than one pupil.
I am extremely impressed with this app. It is the first one I have seen that allows posting of images, video and sound. (When I saw the posterous app I immediately put in a feature request for audio recording).
The application, when used on an iphone or ipod touch, is not built for long form blogging, but it is ideal for the much more interesting, in my opinion, mobile and group publishing of rich media. This is done in a way that minimises the technical barriers allowing users to concentrate on digital storytelling.
This could be an amazing tool for trip blogging. It should even be possible to have, say, several ipod touch out on a trip using one iphone’s tethering to allow mobile blogging by a group.
Finally having struggled and mostly failed to find a simple mobile blogging method for glow blogs it would be great to have a similar app in he new glow.
I’ve been interested in combining maps and media for a while now. Here is a recap of some of the methods I’ve been using. I’ve not often had the chance to do this sort of thing in a teaching situation but continue to believe that mapping media would be a valuable way to record experiences for pupils and a nice slant on digital storytelling.
Last Sunday I had a walk to Benvane & Ben Ledi recorded the gpx with the iPhone Trails app (one of my top 10 apps) took photos, video and some panoramas. Here are the three ways I’ve been developing of displaying them on the web. None of these are good as examples of story telling as I am still thinking about the workflow and tech.
Photos on the map
I’ve built up a fair collection of these over the last few years. this one only uses iPhone photos which means I can skip the stage of matching photos to the gpx file. When I started doing these google maps API was at version 1, I move to 2 and now am behind version 3.
This is the most conventional story combining an image with text in a liner fashion along the track.
I just blogged about this in the previous post
I am hoping that this can produce a more contemplative result.
Although I’ve only just worked out how to do this the workflow is a lot simpler than the photo maps. I’ve developed a mac application (using SuperCard) to make these. All I need to do is to drag some iphone videos out of iPhoto onto the application and it creates the smaller versions of the video and the HTML to display them along side the maps
I you have a mac and would be interested in trying the app, let me know.
Panoramas in Place
This is the most recent development, after tweeting about the Video Maps @drewburrett suggested using photosynth for the iPhone to take pano photos and do something similar. I’ve not got a workflow for creating these and don’t think I’ve got the display method right yet but I am quite excited about working out different ways to present pano photos.
As I said I’ve been messing with maps and media for a long time (2006 example) I’ve blogged about it a fair bit, pretty much in a vacuum. I’d be really interested in finding some folk to play along with or a school interested in trying out some of this stuff.